‘I’m so scared…I’ve had enough and just want to leave him. What can I do? I’ve been living in London for the past 19 months on a spouse visa (UK) and have no income of my own.”
Words like these are not unusual for immigration lawyers. They regularly come across cases where a spouse, living in the UK on a spouse visa (UK), meaning their residence status in the UK is entirely dependent upon their husband/wife’s right to remain in the UK or citizenship.
What can an immigration lawyer do to assist in situations such as these?
The dependent spouse should be advised to obtain urgent immigration advice. This is a must if the parties are not living together as partners due to the domestic abuse.
If the spouse has suffered physical or mental abuse, they can obtain urgent protection orders in the form of an injunction and even restraining/ protection orders for any children of the family.
There are 2 types of injunction orders: 1) non-molestation order and 2) occupation order. Should the circumstances be justified in the relevant criteria, an application must be made on an urgent basis.
An application can be made without notice to the other spouse. This is done when there is a real risk of further harm to the abused.
However, if an application is made without notice to the other spouse, the order will last for a relatively small period of time. The court tends to give a return date hearing with a request to the accused spouse to attend court. The judge will then consider whether the order should be discharged, extended ( for how long) and if there should be a further hearing in case the accused spouse denies the allegations made. Any supporting evidence of the abuse should be submitted at this point. This could include a crime reference number or photographs of the injuries sustained.
If you do obtain an order without notice to your spouse, he/she will not be bound by the terms of the order until they have been personally served with the order. Once they are served with the court order, a copy should also be lodged at your local police station.
The abused spouse can petition for judicial separation or divorce. This process would require the original marriage certificate. If it is not possible to locate the original marriage certificate, permission can be requested from the court to grant an exemption for the same.
Once the petition is issued, the wife can make an urgent application for interim maintenance to ensure that she receives sufficient funds on a monthly basis to meet her monthly expenses (including that of any dependents). The interim maintenance will generally be paid until the conclusion of either the divorce or separation processes.
Legal services fees order
If the abused spouse does not have the finances to obtain legal advice, they can apply for a legal services funding order (LSFO). This order is made against the accused spouse to fund their legal fees should certain factors be met. Although legal aid is available in domestic violence cases, eligibility for the same will depend on the financial status of the one applying.
Clearly, an immigration lawyer is a person who would support you in your difficult times and give you the most suitable and best advice at the earliest. Do not hesitate to contact The SmartMove2UK for all your Spouse Visa UK concerns (spouse visa requirements, spouse visa application, etc).
Do not leave things to fate. Take charge and do the right thing. You deserve better. Empower yourself with knowledge with the help of The SmartMove2UK who has expertise in UK Immigration.
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