To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what protections are in place for spouses who are victims of domestic abuse seeking a divorce.
22 September 2022
Tackling domestic abuse is a key priority for this Government and we are committed to protecting all victims of domestic abuse. To gain protection during divorce proceedings, victims can apply for a protection order. A Non-Molestation Order protects the victim and relevant child from abuse or harassment and an Occupation Order can prevent the person subject to the order from coming near to the family home. In addition, following an incident of violence, or the threat of violence, the police can apply for a Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN) to provide immediate protection to the victim, which can then be followed by a Domestic Violence Protection Order in a magistrate's court.
The landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021 introduces a wide-ranging definition of domestic abuse, and further protection to the millions of people who experience domestic abuse and strengthens measures to bring perpetrators to justice. The Act introduced the new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice (DAPN) and Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO), which will provide flexible, longer-term protection for victims from all forms of domestic abuse. The Government is currently undergoing extensive work to prepare the new order for piloting from next year.
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 also extends the controlling and coercive behaviour offence to apply to ex-partners or family members who do not live together to ensure the protection of individuals from harm after separation or divorce.
Accompanying this legislation, in July 2022, the Government published detailed statutory guidance to ensure that domestic abuse is properly understood by public agencies seeking to tackle this abhorrent crime and provide appropriate support to victims.
The guidance outlines the many forms domestic abuse can take, including in a marital setting and the barriers preventing victims from seeking a divorce. It also recognises specific forms of faith related abuse including coercion to enter into a marriage and the withholding of a religious divorce, as a threat to control and intimidate victims which can be present in different forms under different faiths. The guidance makes clear that safeguarding remains the utmost priority and all victims should be encouraged by the agencies and organisations they encounter to take appropriate steps to protect themselves from harm.
The Home Office is also planning to double funding for survivors of sexual violence and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline by 2024-25, and further increase funding for all the national helplines it supports. Our Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan invests £140 million to support victims, including over £47 million in ringfenced funding for victims’ services and £27 million is currently ringfenced funding for 700 ISVAs and IDVAs.