Last night saw the latest thrilling instalment of the hit series The Split. The program itself may be fiction, but the plot lines are very real and reflect situations that sadly happen more often than people realise.
In episode 3 the story surrounding the breakdown of Fi and Richie Hansen’s marriage evolves as legal steps start to proceed and Richie is served with a divorce petition. Early on in the episode we see Fi asking Richie to move out of the family home, which he refuses to do. Fi is notably scared about how Richie is reacting to news that she wishes to divorce. Nathan Stern (Fi’s barrister) raises the possibility of making an application for a Non-Molestation Order. The basis for this application is because Fi is being subjected to domestic abuse in the form of controlling or coercive behaviour which is causing her to feel genuinely scared of her husband. This coercive behaviour is not the only form of abuse that Fi is being subjected to. Richie is also:
- Belittling Fi, putting her down, commenting on her appearance and making her question her self-worth;
- Speaking to Fi in a derogatory way;
- Stopping Fi from going to work or engaging in social situations;
- Telling Fi what to wear, who she may see and where she may go.
- Controlling Fi’s work life;
Under such circumstances, where there is an atmosphere of fear and a real concern for her safety, and their children’s safety, she can seek the following injunctions:
- A Non-Molestation Order
- This would prevent Richie from being violent or threatening violence towards Fi or any of their children. It would also prevent Richie from intimidating, harassing and pestering, whether in person or by phone, text, email and social media.
- An Occupation Order
- This would regulate who may live in the Hansen’s family home, in this case by not allowing Richie to live there but allowing Fi and the children to continue living there. It could also prevent Richie from being in the surrounding area.
If Richie were to breach a Non-Molestation Order it would be a criminal offence, which can be dealt with in the Family Court. A power of arrest can also be attached to an Occupation Order, which would come into effect if Richie breached the Order.
In order to apply for an injunction, Fi must be an ‘associated person’ to Richie. In Fi’s case, she is married to Richie. Other forms of an ‘associated person’ are:
- You are or have been civil partners;
- You are or have been cohabitants;
- You live or have lived in the same household (except in circumstances where you are employees, tenants, lodgers or borders);
- You are relatives;
- You have agreed to marry or form a civil partnership, even if that agreement has now ended;
- You have a child together or you share parental responsibility for a child together;
- You are parties to the same Family Court proceedings;
- You have had an intimate relationship with each other for a significant duration.
If there is a risk that notifying Richie of an injunction may place Fi or their children at risk of further harm or threats of harm, it is possible for Fi to apply to the Court for an ‘ex-parte’ Order (i.e. without notice to Richie). In such circumstances, the Court will likely make a temporary Order, which will need to be served on Richie (most likely by a process server). This is the first time Richie would be aware of the application and therefore notice could be provided to the police in advance if Fi was worried about Richie’s reaction.
If you would like to speak to a family law specialist about the issue of domestic abuse raised in this blog or featured in The Split, please get in touch.
The Split is broadcast on BBC1 at 9pm on Tuesdays and is available on BBC iPlayer.