Victims of violence must not have to share assets

Gloria De Piero MP
Gloria De Piero MP

The publication of the Domestic Violence Bill represents a historic opportunity to challenge the many glaring injustices that still exist in this country’s treatment of survivors of domestic abuse, writes Gloria De Piero MP.

But there is one element often overlooked which I have highlighted before and will continue to do so until it is addressed in the new legislation.

That is the automatic entitlement of joint assets for those who have attempted to murder their partner.

I have written before about the local woman who contacted me after watching a speech I had made about how the criminal justice system retraumatises victims of domestic violence.

She told me her husband had recently been convicted of her attempted murder in a brutal knife attack that left her minutes from death.

She was saved only by her son and neighbours who valiantly tried to stop her husband’s rage.

She is now trying to rebuild her life and unsurprisingly wants nothing more to do with her husband so is divorcing him.

Incredibly, it seems that her partner is entitled to a share of some of her assets – including her pension and her home.

I had wrongly assumed that anyone serving time for attempting to murder their partner would automatically forfeit all such rights.

This woman is now left in a state of financial panic, trying to provide for her family as a single parent, whilst also having to pay enormous legal fees to divorce him.

She is left footing all the bills, while he will walk away in a few years’ time with up to £100,000, just for having been married to someone he mistreated.

I promised this brave woman that I would fight for change.

For me, it’s a no brainer that we change the law from presumed financial entitlement to presumed loss of entitlement in cases like this.

However, I have been astonished to find that this is apparently not an issue of cross-party consensus in Parliament.

For the sake of the families who are suffering in cases similar to this, I urge our new Prime Minister to change this ludicrous situation and remove the entitlement to joint assets for perpetrators of attempted spousal murder.