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The Law and you

How the law works

Remember, domestic abuse is illegal and there are laws to protect you from it. If you choose to take legal action, you’ll be asked to gather as much evidence as you can about what your partner is doing. To get legal protection, you’ll also need to apply to the court.

We’ll help you find a solicitor and tell you what to expect. As the law is quite complicated, we can also come with you to any legal appointments to make sure you’re getting the right advice.

There are three main types of legal action:

Exclusion order

This allows you to remove an abusive partner from your home. An exclusion order applies if you have occupancy rights (that is, if you are married or the house is jointly in your name). Under an exclusion order the police can arrest your partner if he tries to enter your home.

Good to Know: If you own or rent your home in your name only, and are not married your partner has no legal rights and you have the power to exclude them (for instance by changing the locks).

Interdict

An interdict is a court order that bans your partner or ex-partner from assaulting or abusing you. A solicitor will apply for an interdict on your behalf. You can also get an interdict to keep your partner away from you and your children.

Good to know: in an emergency you can apply for an ‘interim interdict’, which your solicitor should be able to get for you within 24 to 48 hours. Within seven days there will be a court hearing to establish what happens next.

Non-harassment order

If your partner is following you, phoning you, or behaving in a frightening or threatening way, you can apply to the court for a non-harassment order. You need to give at least two examples of this behaviour and apply to the court through a solicitor.

Good to Know: If your partner breaks the conditions of the non-harassment order, the police can arrest him. He may face court proceedings, a fine, or imprisonment.