The Domestic Abuse Bill received Royal Assent on 29th April and has been signed into law, becoming the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
So how should the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 help victims of domestic abuse?
- There are a number of key introductions within the act that should promote protection and safety of survivors of abuse.
- For the first time we have a legal definition of domestic abuse that highlights not just physical abuse but clarifies that abuse can also be emotional, coercive/controlling and economic abuse. As part of this, children will be regarded as victims of domestic violence if they see, hear or otherwise suffer the impact of abuse.
- Importantly the definition of controlling/coercive behaviour is extended to include post-separation abuse. Women’s McKenzie Friend supports this critical definition extension as we understand abuse does not necessarily end when a relationship ends – in fact, risks often increase post separation. Women’s McKenzie Friend have supported many survivors during the family court process where there has been an increase in coercive control and harassment.
Other key introductions in relation to family law………..
- The Act forms a statutory presumption that domestic violence victims are eligible for special measures in the Criminal, Civil and Family Courts (e.g. they can provide evidence via video link).
- Prevents vexatious and traumatising Family Court proceedings from taking place by clarifying the conditions in which a Court can make a barring order under section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989.
- The Act puts in place restrictions that restrict GPs and other medical professionals from charging victims for a letter to support an application for legal aid.
For a full outline of the new act please see the link below: