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26 Domestic Violence, Abuse and Harassment

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1 Introduction

2. What can I do if someone in my family is abusing me?

3. Practical things to do if you are being abused

4. Taking legal steps

5. What the police can do for you

6. What a solicitor can do for you

7. Court orders you can get to protect you

8. How a court order protects you

9. What if the person abusing me is not my partner?

10. How can I help someone who is being abused?

11. Terms used in matters to do with domestic abuse

Civil Courts
Courts that do not deal with crime. For family law injunctions, you generally use the county court, although you can sometimes use the Family Proceedings Court, which is part of the magistrates' court. 

Criminal Courts
Courts that deal with crime. Cases start in the magistrates' court and may go from there to the Crown Court. If a defendant is found guilty, then the court can impose a punishment such as a fine or a prison sentence.

Family Proceedings Court
The section of the magistrates' court that deals with family cases. It can sometimes be used instead of the county court.

An order made by a civil court telling someone they must not do something. If they breach (disobey)it, the person who took out the injunction can ask the court to punish them.

Parental responsibility
All the rights and duties that go with parenthood, such as the duty to care for and protect the child, the right to consent to medical treatment, and the right to choose a child's name, religion and schooling.

In this leaflet, partner means someone you are living with, either a husband, wife, civil partner or cohabitant. You may be part of a heterosexual (male-female)or a same-sex couple. Sometimes the law for cohabitants is different from that for people who are married or civil partners.

Return date
A date on which a case has to come back to court for another hearing.

Delivery of court papers to someone who is involved in the case. For an injunction, the service must be personal -the papers must be handed to the person who is being served, by someone who can then prove to the court that they have been delivered. A solicitor or a court bailiff can arrange to personally serve papers.

A solemn promise to a court. The promise is recorded in the court order and if it is broken, the person making the promise may be punished. However, making such a promise does not mean you are saying you are guilty of having done something in the past.

12. Further help

13. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Imogen Clout, a solicitor specialising in family law.

Leaflet version: July 2019

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