Domestic abuse victims to be offered more protection in the Family Courts

Together we are Forbes


03 February, 2017

The Family court will be making changes ending the presumption that there should be "contact in all cases" when involvement of a parent would put the child or other parent at risk of suffering harm from abuse.

Mr Justice Cobb has produced a report that sets out the amendments to the current practice direction with protecting victims of domestic abuse at its heart.  

A Women's Aid report which was considered by Mr Justice Cobb gives a startling statistic that 12 of the 19 children killed had had contact ordered with the perpetrator through the Family Court.  The perpetrator in all these cases being the child's father.

Other recommended reforms include:

  1. The Court are to ensure the process is not being used by an abusive parent to perpetuate coercion, control or harassment;
  2. The Court are to consider their waiting areas and also safety of victims entering and exiting the Court buildings;
  3. In cases where domestic abuse is proven a specialist domestic abuse practitioner is to conduct a safety and risk assessment for the Court;
  4. Harm is specifically defined to ensure greater consistency of language.

There will also be a move to prevent victims of domestic abuse having to be cross-examined by unrepresented abusers.  This has been banned from the criminal courts for quite some time now and it appears the Family Courts are following suit.

These reforms putting protection of victims of domestic abuse at the forefront will be a very welcome adjustment to the Family Court procedure.

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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