Some emergency remedies can be obtained without divorce proceedings. These include orders for personal protection of a spouse and children and orders in relation to property.
As a result of the abandonment by the government of the Family Homes and Domestic Violence Bill 1995 in November 1995 the law in respect of personal protection and occupation of the family home is still governed by the Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1976 in relation to married couples and unmarried couples who cohabit or have cohabited in the six months prior to an application to the court. In relation to other family members personal protection is obtained by applying for the common remedies of assault and trespass in the county courts. The Family Homes and Domestic Violence Bill was drafted by the Law Commission and its proposals had been considered by a Home Office select committee in 1993. It had the support of all parties and was introduced in the 1994-95 session of Parliament in the House of Lords under the public law procedure. It would have simplified and streamlined the present position by providing a single set of remedies to a wider category of what are called ‘associated persons’—parents and children as well as spouses and cohabitants—and would have lengthened the periods during which victims of violence could occupy the homes in which they had lived. It would also have provided for the removal of an abuser of a child from the home, a more appropriate remedy than that which now obtains, namely the removal of the child by the local authority from the home occupied by the abuser. The principal provisions of the abandoned bill have been reinstated in the new Family Law Bill. What follows is a description of the current hotchpotch.