Victims of domestic violence will get more support in taking abusive former partners to court.
Changes to evidence requirements in private family law disputes have come into effect. There will no longer be a time limit on abuse evidence for victims, which previously stood at five years.
Additionally, the range of documents accepted as evidence of abuse has been widened to include statements from domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers.
Justice Minister Dominic Raab said:
“We have listened to victims’ groups and carefully reviewed the criteria for legal aid for victims of domestic abuse in family cases.
Today’s changes will ensure that vulnerable women and children get legal support, so their voice is properly heard in court.”
Legal aid is available to people involved in private family disputes if they are victims, or are at risk of becoming victims, of domestic violence or child abuse. To qualify, applicants must provide objective evidence of the abuse while their case is also subject to means and merits tests.
Victims can ask for evidence from:
- the courts
- the police
- a multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC)
- social services
- a health professional, eg a doctor, nurse, midwife, psychologist or health visitor
- a refuge manager
- a domestic violence support service
- a bank, eg credit card accounts, loan documents and statements
- an employer, or education or training provider
- the provider of any benefits received
Victims can download and print a sample letter to send to the police, courts, or medical and social services.
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