Call for evidence launched to strengthen protection for children in family courts

A public call for evidence, or consultation, has been launched on how the family courts protect children and parents in private law children cases concerning domestic abuse and other serious offences. The call for evidence is part of a three-month project overseen by a panel of experts, aimed at throwing a spotlight on how the family courts manage the safety and well-being of children when there is a risk of domestic abuse.

Specifically, the call for evidence will focus on private family law proceedings. Amongst the questions it will ask are:

• How Practice Direction 12J, which relates to child arrangement cases where domestic abuse is a factor, is being applied. This includes its interaction with the presumption that involvement of both parents in the life of the child concerned will usually further the child’s welfare.

• How ‘barring orders’ are being used. These prevent further applications being made without leave of the court. Such applications could be used to re-traumatise those who’ve faced abuse.

• What is the impact on the child and parent victim where child contact is sought by someone alleged to have, or who has, committed domestic abuse or other relevant offences.

Justice Minister Paul Maynard said:

“Domestic abuse destroys lives, which is why survivors and their children must have every confidence that they will be protected in the family courts.

“Just this week we introduced legislation that will ban abusers from cross-examining their victims in the family courts, and throughout our review we will be engaging with victims across the country to make sure we are doing all we can to protect them further.

“The review – ordered by ministers in May – will also consider the level of encouragement victims are given to raise concerns, the standard of domestic abuse information shared with courts, as well as looking to better understand the different types of coercive control.”

You can find the consultation here.

If you are involved in a children case in which domestic abuse is a factor, you should seek expert legal help. Family Law Cafe can provide this. To book a free initial consultation with us click the green button at the top of this page and fill in the form, or call us on 020 3904 0506.

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Image: parent/child shadow, by Anders Andersson, licensed under CC BY 2.0.