RCJ Advice: Family Law Case Study
(Author: Rebecca Scott, RCJ Advice)
A referral was made by an independent domestic violence advisor (IDVA) from Refuge, on behalf of a young woman who had been the victim of severe domestic violence. The young woman was only 16 years old at the time as well as eight months pregnant. The Respondent, who was both the father of the child and the client’s ex-partner, was 25 years old. At the time of our intervention, the Respondent was being detained at Gatwick due to his pending immigration status.
The IDVA sought our urgent help as the client had recently received death threats from the Respondent via text message. Although the Respondent was being detained at the time, the client had heard reports that he was due to be released in the immediate future. The client was clearly highly concerned for both the welfare of herself and her unborn child. The Respondent was a violent man, there had been previous incidents of domestic violence. The Respondent had previously viciously strangled the client in the street, he only stopped when a member of the public intervened. The Respondent also subjected the client to emotional and psychological abuse.
The client had been assessed by Refuge as “high risk” and she was also heard at a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC), where it was recommended that the client make an urgent application for a non-molestation order. The client was unable to obtain legal aid as the Legal Aid Agency took her parents means into account and therefore she fell out of the scope. Unfortunately, the client’s parents were unwilling to support her financially with obtaining a solicitor and due to this, RCJ Advice was the client’s last hope at receiving legal advice and representation.
Shortly after receiving the referral from Refuge, RCJ Advice were able to meet with the client at her local Refuge Centre and discuss her options. After taking a detailed statement from the client, it was decided that an emergency protective injunction was necessary to protect her as well as her unborn child.
At the meeting with the client, RCJ Advice were able to draft an application for a Non-Molestation Order as well as the supporting statement. As the client was vulnerable and under the age of 18, RCJ Advice also drafted an application for a litigation friend which was her IDVA from Refuge. RCJ Advice contacted the local county court and was able to book in for a without notice emergency hearing the following morning.
RCJ Advice represented the client at the hearing of the application and we successfully obtained an interim Non-Molestation Order with a return hearing set for the following week. In the interim, the order was served on the other party, and RCJ Advice put a court bundle together in readiness for the return hearing. RCJ Advice represented the client once again at the return hearing. At this hearing, it was ordered that the Non-Molestation Order was to remain in place for one year. Both the client and her IDVA were overjoyed at the outcome of the return hearing. The client was clearly more relaxed and felt content that she had obtained protection from the Court.