Controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships became a new offence

As Devon and Cornwall Police launch their domestic abuse awareness campaign across both counties, it is worth noting that victims of domestic violence can also seek help, remedies and protection through the family courts.

The family court can make “non molestation” orders for the personal protection of victims, and additionally make “occupation” orders to regulate the occupancy of the family home on separation.

There are a number of advantages in pursuing remedies through the family court, either with or without further police involvement.

The family court operates on a “balance of probability” proof, which is lower than the criminal standard of “beyond reasonable doubt”. This means it may be possible to secure protective injunctions, even if the evidence would not support a criminal prosecution.

The family court can also take into account extended sources of information which might not be permitted in criminal proceedings, to determine whether an injunction should be granted or not.

In urgent circumstances, the family court can grant “without notice” emergency injunctions which (where appropriate) will secure protection within a 24 hour period.

For those that might be concerned with pursuing such remedies through the family court, legal aid remains available to fund domestic violence-related work.

In addition, family solicitors can also provide support, advice and action to take into account any children or financial issues that might arise from the separation and protection work which is undertaken to provide a full wrap around service.

If you are affected by these issues and are seeking legal advice, please visit the Resolution website to find specialist solicitors accredited by Resolution, the association of family lawyers.

Peter Marshall is a partner in our family law team in St Austell. He has extensive experience of domestic violence cases and is accredited by Resolution. He also sits on Resolution’s national committee on domestic violence. To contact Peter please call  01726 74433 or email