It is important to note, with a Forced Marriage, the marriage takes place without the full and free consent of both parties. This is not the same as an arranged marriage, as with this form of marriage families take the lead in selecting a marriage partner, consent is provided by both parties to the marriage and they can accept or decline the marriage.
Forced marriage is breaching one’s human rights, without the valid consent of either party. In forced marriages an element of duress is always a factor. “Duress” can include physical force, as well as being pressurised emotionally, being threatened or being a victim of psychological abuse.
A Forced Marriage Protection Order can help someone being forced into a marriage or someone who has already been forced into a marriage. Each order will contain binding conditions and directions tailored to your individual needs and what is required to protect you in your individual circumstances. The court can make an order in an emergency so that this protection is in place straightaway. An application for a Forced Marriage Protection Order can be made at the same time as a police investigation or other criminal proceedings taking place.
Directions that can be ordered can include, but are not limited to the following:
An application for a Forced Marriage Protection Order can be made within the Family Court in England and Wales. The Order can be applied for by:
A Forced Marriage Protection Order can relate to the conduct of a person, who is in or outside of England and Wales; who is outside England and Wales as well as (or instead of) conduct of the person within England and Wales.
The court can offer separate waiting rooms, separate court entrances and exits, parking on court premises and some courts may offer witness protection facilities. The court can also offer screens to ensure you cannot see the respondents in court. You may be able to give your evidence by video, through a live TV or video link outside the courtroom. The court can also provide interpreters.
A Form FL401A has to be completed and filed with the Court. If you need the courts permission to apply on behalf of someone else a form FL430 must also be completed. If you want to keep your address confidential then they must complete a C8 Application.
A sworn statement in support of the application must also be filed. This statement needs to outline the reasons for the application and what orders are being asked for. There is no Court application fee for a Forced Marriage Protection Order.
The application can be heard on notice or without notice to the respondents and can be heard urgently. If a without notice order is made by the judge, the matter will be listed for a further hearing where the respondents will be able to attend to provide their positon in relation to the application.
Once the court have processed the forms they will then provide a notice of hearing, namely a notice of proceedings form FL402A. If the Hearing is on notice then the application forms, sworn statement and notice of hearing must be served on the respondents and other persons. The court can also serve the documents if a form D89 – request for personal service by court bailiff – is submitted. After the documents have been filed a form FL415 will need to be completed and filed.
The application for a forced marriage protection order will be heard in private. The court may make interim orders whilst further information is awaited if this is required and then a further hearing will be listed. The Court will make an order for a specified period and they may list the matter for a further hearing once the period of time has lapsed or if and when a further application is made. Depending on this case, the Court may make no order and instead deal with the matter by way of undertakings. An undertaking is a promise to the court to do, or not to do certain things. Breaching an undertaking is contempt of court and is punishable with up to two years in prison.
The Family or the Criminal Courts can deal with breach of the order. Under section 63CA of the Family Law Act 1996, the breach of an order is a criminal offence for which has a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment. If the police decide not to prosecute, an application can be made to the family court for an arrest warrant. The application form FL407A must be completed. A fee maybe charged. Where a person is in breach and contempt of court via the family courts, they can send them to prison for 2 years.
Legal aid is available for applications for a Forced Marriage Protection Order and committal proceedings for Breach of a Forced Marriage Protection order, however it is means and merits tested .Legal Aid is available for both as a Respondent and an Applicant.
Duncan Lewis Solicitors can advise and assist you in relation to all areas relating to Forced Marriage and Forced Marriage Protection Orders. Duncan Lewis Solicitors have specialist solicitors who represent parents, family members and children within this area of law. Our solicitors, trainees and caseworkers also speak a range of languages to assist clients where required with any language barriers.
Duncan Lewis is recommended by The Legal 500 legal directory for its specialism in all aspects of family and children law nationwide and cross-border. The Legal 500 applauds our family and child care solicitors to be a team of lawyers that are ‘friendly professionals who take their time to understand your case’. Duncan Lewis team includes Advanced Members of the Law Society’s Family Panel, and members of the Law Society Children.
For expert legal advice on all family and childcare matters, contact Duncan Lewis Solicitors on 033 3772 0409.