As part of Forsters’ continued effort to give something back during the pandemic, the family team and some of the trainees continue to help support victims of domestic violence through various local and national charities including Solace.
This help has included preparing a pack to help those in urgent need to make applications to the court with pro-forma statements, example applications and draft orders. Jo Edwards and Rosie Schumm, partners in the family team, have also provided assistance to local victims in east London and Brighton, including helping them with their applications for urgent court orders, putting them in touch with local support services and joining up with respected barristers committed to the same cause to represent victims at hearings.
One of the pro bono cases Rosie has taken on over the pandemic began as an urgent ex-parte application for a non-molestation order at the Central Family Court. This also involved drafting a witness statement for the client. After hearing the application on paper, the judge granted the emergency non-molestation order and a prohibited steps order. She also listed an urgent hearing to consider the issues of the case more fully. Rosie then engaged with counsel to represent the client at the hearing.
The client has now had a further hearing and is waiting for a pre-trial review to be listed. Rosie and her team have supported the client through each of the hearings, and whilst the factual issues are complicated and contested the non-molestation order remains in place. As a result, the client has the court protection she needs to safeguard her and her children from the intimidating behaviour of her abusive former husband. This has provided significant reassurance to the client, who has had a very difficult time coping with this situation.
This case illustrates the essential protection the family court is able to offer sufferers of domestic violence, and how firms and counsel can collaborate to assist those who need it the most. This is particularly important during the pandemic, when instances of domestic violence have been on the rise.