If I have a Non-Molestation Order, can I provide a copy of my statement to the police or third parties?
- AuthorJennifer Allen
Often an overlap between family and criminal law can occur for victims or those accused of domestic abuse, harassment or threats. It is not unusual for victims of domestic abuse to require the advice of family law solicitors as well as criminal solicitors, if there have been proceedings in both the Family Courts (under the Family Law Act 1996), as well as criminal proceedings relating to, in some cases, the same incidents.
Criminal and Family Courts are subject to different jurisdictions and legislation. Therefore, different rules govern different courts and this applies to the evidence/ information obtained in separate proceedings. The question we are regularly asked as family lawyers is; ‘can the evidence prepared for Non-Molestation proceedings be used by the police in investigating a criminal offence?’ It is important, before disclosing information prepared for the purpose of an application before the Family Court to consider whether or not this is allowable.
The Family Procedure Rules provide that where hearings are held in private (which is usually the case in family proceedings), only very limited categories of people are entitled to be present at those hearings. The purpose of this is to ensure privacy and protection of the parties involved in family proceedings. This is a matter of public policy and subject to confidentiality provisions. Likewise, this means that all documents filed or shared during the course of proceedings must not be shown or shared with anyone who is not specifically named or involved in the case, without the express permission of the Court. In the event this rule is breached you could find yourself in contempt of court, which has serious sanctions.
The prudent course of action will always be to seek permission to disclose any documents from the Family Court first.
If you have a question relating to your ability to share information prepared or obtained in the course of family proceedings, whether or not under the Family Law Act 1996 or maybe perhaps in divorce or financial proceedings, please contact Jennifer Allen or a member of the family team at Hughes Paddison for further advice.