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Economic abuse is violence.

The concept “domestic violence” conjures images of battered women and abused children. However, there are many other more subtle and insidious forms of domestic violence. One such form is the refusal to provide financial maintenance to a victim and her children. Economic abuse can seriously impede upon the economic, physical and psychological health of the victim. One direct consequence of economic abuse is that the survivor becomes economically dependent on the abuser.


The Domestic Violence Act 116 Of 1998 recognises “Economical Abuse” as “the unreasonable deprivation of economic or financial resources to which a complainant is entitled under law or which the complainant requires out of necessity, including household necessities, for the complainant and or mortgage bond repayments or payment of rent in respect of the shared residence or, the unreasonable disposal of household effects or other property in which the complainant has interest.”


The Domestic Violence Court has the authority to grant, upon application “emergency monetary relief”, which includes “compensation for monetary losses suffered by the complainant at the time of the issuance of a protection order as a result of domestic violence including: loss of earnings, medical and dental expenses relocation and accommodation expenses and household necessities.”


This form of relief can provide victims of economic abuse with an emergency lifeline when other available remedies such as a Rule 43 or Maintenance Court order could take weeks or even months to finalise.


Who qualifies for an order for emergency monetary relief?


  • Any person who has been in a domestic relationship with a person; and

  • who has been subjected or allegedly subjected to an act of domestic violence at the hands of the “Respondent”;

  • including any child in the care of such a person.



How is an order for emergency monetary relief obtained?


  • Approach your nearest police station or Magistrate’s Court;

  • Fill in the prescribed form indicating the type of abuse and relief sought;

  • Depose to an affidavit setting out the details of the case; and

  • Attach documentary proof in the form of bank statements, photo’s, screenshots of threats or e-mails.


When can an application be brought?

  • The Court must hear the matter as soon as reasonably possible.


GRANTING OF THE INTERIM ORDER

The Domestic Violence Court will grant an immediate, interim order in the absence of the Respondent if:

  • It is satisfied that there is prima facie evidence that the Respondent is committing or has committed an act of domestic violence and

  • undue hardship may be suffered by the complainant if the order is not issued immediately.


RETURN DATE AND SERVICE OF INTERIM ORDER:

  • The interim order must be served upon the Respondent as soon as possible;

  • The order will provide a “return date” upon which the Respondent is called upon to show reason why the interim order should not be made final.


GRANTING OF A FINAL ORDER

A final order will be granted if:

  • the Respondent does not appear at Court on the return date; or

  • if the Respondent fails to produce evidence that on a balance of probabilities he has not committed or is committing economical abuse.


FURTHER EVIDENCE

The Court is entitled to:

  • request and hear any form of evidence, whether oral or documentary;

  • put any questions to any of the parties and/or witnesses; and

  • allow for cross examination of parties or witnesses cross examination of witnesses under certain circumstances.


SERVICE OF FINAL ORDER AND WARRANT OF ARREST

Once the final order is granted it must be served on the Respondent, together with a warrant of arrest which can be executed should the Respondent fail to comply with the order.


EFFECT OF THE FINAL ORDER

The final order has the effect of civil judgment of the Magistrate’s Court. It can therefore only be set aside by way of Appeal or Review in terms of the Magistrate’s Court Rules.


LEGAL REPRESENTAgggny party to an application of this nature is entitled to legal representation.



Financial abuse is an aspect of coercive control- a pattern of controlling, threatening and degrading behaviour that restricts a victim’s freedom. It has for long remained the “unseen side” of domestic violence.


Victims of any form of abuse often feel hopeless and overwhelmed. This is why it’s always best to attain the services of attorneys who understand the law and who are able to assist the victim without her having to be subjected to any further harm or intimidation by her abuser.


We have the family law experience and understanding of the difficulties clients face in these situations. Contact us for assistance with domestic violence, divorce and other family matters.







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