Help women escaping domestic abuse secure the right to their home

by Rights of Women

Help women escaping domestic abuse secure the right to their home

by Rights of Women
Rights of Women
Case Owner
Rights of Women's vision is to achieve equality, justice and safety in the law for all women. We campaign for, and provide legal services and advice to women survivors of abuse.
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Rights of Women
Case Owner
Rights of Women's vision is to achieve equality, justice and safety in the law for all women. We campaign for, and provide legal services and advice to women survivors of abuse.
Pledge now

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The issue

The Government has ignored the legal needs of unmarried women experiencing domestic abuse for too long. We are seeking justice.

Women experiencing domestic abuse should be able to access safety and justice through the law regardless of their marital status.

However, women who are not married or in a civil partnership often have no legal right to their home if it is in their abusive partner’s name, leaving them trapped with their abuser.

Background

1 in 4 couples living together are not married or in a civil partnership. In the event of a separation, they have extremely limited rights, yet almost half mistakenly believe they are protected under the law.

1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. If they are not married or in a civil partnership, even if they have contributed financially, they have extremely limited legal rights to property, belongings, or finances held in their abuser’s name.

When married couples separate, they can ask the courts to divide their home, belongings, and finances fairly, to meet the needs of them and their children. These rights do not exist for unmarried couples.  

By denying unmarried women these rights, the Government is ignoring their vulnerability to domestic abuse and blocking their access to justice.

Our Story

Founded in 1975, Rights of Women has spent decades campaigning for changes to the laws which protect women from violence and discrimination.

Over the years, we have successfully campaigned for the legal rights of women experiencing domestic abuse, including the criminalisation of rape within marriage and the introduction of no-fault divorce.

We also are the only charity dedicated to providing frontline legal advice to women experiencing domestic abuse and sexual violence across England and Wales. We ensure that, at some of the most difficult times in their lives, women don’t have to face the complex legal system alone.

Alice's Story

Alice* called Rights of Women after experiencing verbal and physical abuse by her long-term partner Tom*. Alice wanted to end the relationship but was scared she would lose her home. Alice had contributed towards household bills and had paid Tom half of the mortgage for years, but because the house and mortgage were solely in Tom’s name, she had no legal rights to her home. Alice was faced with the unfair and devastating option to have to give up her home to escape her abuser.

If Alice and Tom had been married, divorce proceedings would consider Alice’s needs and contributions (both financial and non-financial) when deciding how to divide up the couple’s assets (such as their home).

We’re seeking justice

We want the Government to change the law, so women’s rights to justice and safety aren’t dependent on their marital status.

The Law Commission and Women's and Equalities Committee have recommended introducing legal protections for separating cohabitational partners with children, and that cohabitational partners should have the right to inherit from each other.

Despite these recommendations, the Government is refusing to listen.

We need your help to raise our voices for justice and equality in the law for women.

We need your help

We need your support to use our unique legal expertise and frontline experience to make sure women’s voices are heard by Government and deliver justice for women experiencing domestic abuse.

Please make a donation (any amount helps!) and share this page with friends and family via social media, WhatsApp and email.

With your donations we can campaign for stronger legal protections for women and increase their access to justice and safety from domestic abuse and sexual violence.

 


*Story based on the experiences we hear. Names and elements have been changed for anonymity.

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