The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 has been pivotal in reshaping how this behaviour is addressed
In recent years, the issue of controlling and coercive behaviour within intimate relationships has gained significant attention. Recognising the serious impact such behaviour can have on individuals and families, the UK Family Law Courts have taken steps to address these issues and provide a safe legal framework for those affected. This article will provide an overview of how the Family Law courts handle cases involving controlling and coercive behaviour.
Understanding Controlling and Coercive Behaviour
Controlling and coercive behaviour involves a pattern of actions that seeks to dominate, manipulate, or intimidate a partner, causing them to feel isolated, fearful, and undermined. This type of behaviour can extend beyond physical abuse and includes psychological, emotional, and financial elements.
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 has played a pivotal role in reshaping how the UK Family Law Courts address cases involving controlling and coercive behaviour. This comprehensive legislation widened the legal definition of domestic abuse, explicitly recognising coercive and controlling behaviour as criminal offences. It provides a framework for obtaining domestic abuse protection notices to safeguard victims and survivors.
Legal Remedies Available for Controlling & Coercive Behaviour
- Non-Molestation Orders: A non-molestation order is a court order that prohibits one party from using or threatening violence, or intimidating, harassing, or pestering the other party. It serves to protect the victim from any form of abuse or threats, including controlling and coercive behaviour.
- Occupation Orders: An occupation order regulates who can live in the family home and can also prohibit the abusive party from entering certain areas surrounding the home. This order is crucial in situations where victims and their children need a safe space away from the abuser.
- Protection from Harassment Act 1997: This act allows victims to seek protection from harassment, which can include controlling and coercive behaviour. It can involve restraining orders that restrict the abuser’s actions and communication with the victim.
- Child Arrangement Orders: When children are involved, the court will prioritise the child’s best interests. If a parent’s controlling or coercive behaviour impacts the children’s well-being, the court may adjust the child arrangements accordingly, and make a prohibited steps order, restricting the abusive parents behaviour.
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