Has the Family Court presumption of contact at all costs put children’s lives at risk?

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Women’s Aid state that twenty children have been killed by a parent who was also a known perpetrator of domestic abuse.  The vast majority of these cases had been to court and Orders were made stating that the children were to have contact with or even reside with the perpetrator of domestic abuse.

Claire Throssell’s sons; Jack and Paul were killed by her former abusive partner in a house fire in October 2014 on a weekend contact visit.  Claire’s ‘Child First’ campaign prompted a review of the current law by Mr Justice Cobb and today we see changes to the Practice Direction come into force.

In cases where there is an allegation, admission or finding of domestic abuse the reforms make it clear that the Court should not make a Child Arrangements Order unless it is satisfied that it is in the best interests of the child and that the order would not expose the child or the other parent to an unmanageable risk of harm.

The Practice Direction states that the Court should only make an Order for contact if it is satisfied that the physical and emotional safety of the child and the parent can, as far as possible, be secured before during and after contact.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said that these are “vital, lifesaving changes.” We will be eagerly waiting to see the impact of these reforms.

At Forbes we have specialist teams who are able to assist with any family law queries. For further information please contact our Family team via email or phone 0800 689 1058. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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