National Legal Service recently helped gain protection for an abused mother and her children, while simultaneously ensuring that the children maintain contact with their father.
Hannah* had suffered significant abuse and harassment throughout her six-year relationship due to her partner’s highly controlling and coercive behaviour. Having experienced continuous emotional abuse, Hannah was becoming increasingly worried about the risk of further harm. This worry was starting to have a major impact on Hannah’s mental health and well-being, as well as affecting her private life.
Hannah not only wanted to protect herself, but also her children. Her ex-partner, the children’s father, had begun to use his contact with the children as a way of controlling Hannah, and often used meetings to discuss the children as further opportunities to exhibit abusive behaviour. Hannah’s mental health had become further affected following a threat from the father to take full responsibility of the children.
Hannah was keen not to prevent the children from having a relationship with their father. However, she did wish to take measures to put an end to the abuse she was receiving and ensure that her ex-partner could not take her children away from her.
To protect Hannah, we assisted with securing the funding and preparing a statement and application for an ex-parte hearing, which meant that Hannah was able to apply for a non-molestation order without informing her ex-partner.
A non-molestation order, or NMO, prohibits the respondent from exhibiting abusive behaviours – both physical and emotional – towards the applicant. We requested that the order include a provision that any contact in respect of the children was limited to text messages only, and that handovers be conducted through a third party. Breaching the NMO can have serious consequences, up to a five-year prison sentence, giving Hannah peace of mind that she was safe and well protected.
We also worked with Hannah to assist in her application for a child arrangement order, clearly setting out the arrangements for where the children would live so that the children’s father was not able to use the children to manipulate and control her. Our team prepared the application for court, enabling Cafcass to carry out safeguarding before any order was made. The final order confirmed that the children would live with Hannah, outlining contact arrangements with the father.
Hannah is now able to live happily, knowing she has the protection she needs. And, as a result of the NMO, the respondent’s abusive behaviour has significantly eased. Hannah also feels more relaxed knowing that there is a legal schedule in place for when the respondent should spend time with the children. This has resulted in more certainty and stability for the family, which has improved Hannah’s mental health.