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COVID-19 and support

Exclusion orders: what are they and how can they help if I’m experiencing abuse at home?

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Home is not always a safe place for women experiencing abuse. However, there are legal options that can be requested from the court to protect women and children from the abuse. One option is an exclusion order.

We have published a guide with information on what an exclusion order is, who can apply for one and what the court process is, which you can read here. Below we give a brief introduction to this legal protection.

What is an exclusion order?

There is much to say about exclusion orders; however, in short, they are what in the law is known as a protective order and essentially they suspend your partner or ex-partner’s right to live in your home when you can prove that he has harmed or could harm you and/or your children.

There are several things to consider before applying for an exclusion order: for instance, whether your partner/ex-partner has the right to occupy the family home and if it is no longer safe for you to continue living together. Our guide explains this in detail.

Before considering an exclusion order…

If you are experiencing abuse and are concerned for your safety, you can consider reporting the abuse to the Police. You can do this in several ways:

  • Call 999 if you are in immediate danger
  • Call 101 if it you want to report but you are not immediately in danger
  • If you prefer not to call, fill out Police Scotland’s online form.

If there is sufficient evidence, then the police have powers to put bail conditions in place for your protection, which can include stopping the abuser from returning to the family home or from contacting you.

If the police don’t put protective measures in place, or they are about to end, and you still need protection, you can ask the court for protective orders.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the court is focusing on responding to ‘urgent’ requests, and exclusion orders fall in this category. This means that solicitors can still assist you in seeking exclusion orders and other protective orders.

How can I apply for an exclusion order?

The first step is to read our legal guide to get a sense of what an exclusion order is and whether this is something you could consider applying to.

Next, we would always recommend you to get legal advice from a solicitor as the process can be a complex one.

If you don't have a solicitor already, you can contact us to explain your situation. Speaking to a solicitor is the best way to get your questions answered and to make sure this is the right option for you.

You can also find a solicitor by visiting the Law Society of Scotland website, many law firms are still working throughout the pandemic.

How likely is it that the Court will grant me this order?

The court will only grant an exclusion order if they consider that the order is necessary to protect you or your children from your partner/ex-partner’s behaviour and actions, because he could cause you and/or your children physical or psychological harm.

Are there other options for me if I’m experiencing abuse at home?

We understand that at the moment it may be more difficult to safely stay with family and friends because of COVID-19 and the government guidelines on social distancing and self-isolation. It is important to know that the lockdown restrictions do not prevent you from leaving your home to flee abuse if you need to.

Scottish Women’s Aid has a guide on housing options available during this time, and our blog on domestic abuse during the pandemic includes other practical information.

If you are experiencing abuse from a partner/ex-partner or any member of your household, you can contact the 24-hour Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage helpline by phone on 0800 027 1234; they are also available by email and online chat. Support workers will answer your call, email or message and they can help you to make safety plans, including leaving the relationship.

To explore exclusion orders or other legal options available to you, call our legal helpline or fill out our online contact form if it isn’t safe for you to call us. You can also make an appointment at one of our monthly legal surgeries where you can discuss your circumstances in more detail.

To continue reading about exclusion orders, download our legal guide here.

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