SPOTLIGHT ON DOMESTIC ABUSE
Globally, domestic abuse is on the rise and the Cayman Islands is no exception. The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre is seeing yearly increases in those seeking relief. The Centre, established in 2003, primarily for woman, is also noting a rise in males seeking assistance.
For people in abusive relationships, it is important to know that not only does the criminal court have robust measures in place to protect survivors, but there is developed civil legislation (the Protection from Domestic Violence Act (2021)) which is designed to provide remedies and relief for those who are suffering abuse.
What is domestic violence?
Under the Act, domestic violence includes not only physical harm, but emotional and psychological, financial abuse and sexual abuse. Examples include intimidation, stalking, interfering/damaging property, coercive behaviour and confinement.
Who can apply?
Spouses, civil partners (including same sex couples) children of the household, a parent and those in a close personal relationship, although not sharing a common household.
In some instances, an application can be made on behalf of the applicant by a third third parties e.g. a police officer.
What Relief is available?
The Court, upon being satisfied that an order is necessary, can make the following orders
• Protection Order (forbidding contact with the applicant, visiting a place of work etc.)
• Occupation Order (Preventing the respondent from residing where the applicant resides)
• Tenancy Order (where necessary, vesting a tenancy in favour of the applicant)
• Maintenance order – the Court has ancillary powers to make a maintenance order to avoid financial hardship to the applicant where they are entitled to be maintained.
• Compensation for loss of earnings and medical expenses as a result of domestic violence can also be made.
The Court also has a discretion to impose a treatment program designed to counsel the parties or provide rehabilitation for behavioral issues.
How can you apply for an Order?
Urgent interim applications can be dealt with without the knowledge of the person from whom you are seeking protection (he or she will be described as the ‘Respondent’. These applications are known as ‘ex parte’ or ‘without notice’ applications.
Once an order is made, the Respondent will be served in person with the Order, which will include a date to return to court when the application will be considered in full, with both parties present.
The Court will consider, the nature, history and pattern of violence and the need to protect the applicant from further domestic violence and the welfare of any children.
The Court will examine the accommodation needs of the applicant and the income and financial obligation of the respondent.
Hearings are conducted in private with reporting conditions in place.
A protection order may be made for up to 3 years duration.
What happens if the Order is breached?
While the order is in force, a police officer may arrest a respondent where there is reasonable cause to believe that the order has been breached or in the circumstance is likely to be breached.
A respondent who breaches an order is liable to a fine of $10,000 or to a term of imprisonment of 2 years or both.
When can an order be discharged?
A respondent may apply to the court to discharge a protection order on the basis it is no longer necessary.
Can you obtain legal aid to fund the process?
You may be eligible for legal aid to pay for your legal fees in connection with the order. The Court can also order the other side to pay your legal fees. We can advise you on the same and help you complete any application forms.
McGrath Tonner has extensive experience in applying for and defending protection orders. We can help you through this difficult process. Should you require any additional information or wish to speak with one of the attorneys in our Family Law team, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Greg Burke, Attorney – email@example.com
Tel:(345) 949 2740 or (345) 623-2740