We moved to the UK together in 2016 and soon I was pregnant with my twin girls. My husband has always been quite controlling of the children and I. He has been physically abusive. In recent times, after losing his job after the national lockdown, his abusive behaviour has become just too much to bear. A few nights ago, he physically assaulted me and the police were involved. They removed the children and I from the house and took us to a secure refuge. Since then I have heard from friends within the Nigerian community in the UK that he is desperately trying to locate us. He has also been calling my phone consistently and leaving angry voice messages demanding that we return to him.
I don’t know what to do. I am scared because he has always told me that he would take the girls from me and abandon them in Nigeria. He has their passports and knows where they go to school.
I am sorry to have read about your situation. If you are concerned about your children’s safety, then you will need to act as a matter of urgency to protect them as well as yourself. You should seek legal advice immediately. There are a number of steps you can take to protect both of you.
1. Prohibited steps order - this acts as a way of stopping your husband from taking your children out of school and out of the jurisdiction. You will need to contact the school and social services to let them know that this has been obtained and that should he show up at the school he should not be allowed to
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2. Child arrangements order - as it stands, your husband has every right as the father of your children to have contact with them. This order provides who your children will live with; how, and when, she will spend time with the other parent.
3. Non-molestation order - this order would act to prevent him from harming you and aims to stop him from harassing you. It also aims to prevent him from being violent to you. If your husband were to breach this order, then he could be arrested and face criminal charges punishable by up to 5 years in prison. You could also complain to the police who could take action to protect you and your children from him.
All of these orders can be obtained initially without him being notified.
Usually you would need to take part in mediation but you have mentioned some behaviours that I find to be concerning. You have disclosed that your husband has subjected you to domestic abuse. It is therefore likely that you would be exempt from attending mediation before commencing the proceedings at court.
You may also be eligible for legal aid if you have been the victim of domestic abuse. To speak to a specialist family law solicitor please contact Ben Hoare Bell LLP on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected] Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.