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The Government uses the following non-legislative definition of domestic violence as part of its strategy for raising awareness of and tackling domestic violence against women and girls, which was revised on
“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.”
The courts in England and Wales are responsible for operating civil, family and criminal proceedings during which issues of domestic violence may arise. In such situations the independent judiciary will interpret and apply the relevant law to the individual circumstances of the case. A Home Office circular issued in February 2013, however, drew attention to the cross-government definition and recipients included the judiciary and lay magistracy.
In relation to domestic violence and the definition of family relationships, the courts will apply the definitions contained in Part 4 of the Family Law Act 1996 when considering an application for a protective measure such as a non-molestation or occupation order. Section 62 of the Act defines relationships by reference to “cohabitants”, “relevant child” and “associated persons” and in section 63 defines “relative” as mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister and grandparents whether directly related, in-laws or step-family.