Currently steps are being discussed to end the presumption that a father must have contact with his child[ren] where there is evidence of domestic violence that would put the child[ren]/mother at risk. The reform comes about following campaign by Women's Aid charity. The same charity reports 19 children were killed in the last 10 years by violent father given contact by judges.
The reforms were announced by Mr Justice Cobb on Friday in practice direction 12J. The directive states "the court should only make an order for contact if it can be satisfied that the physical and emotional safety of the child and the parent with whom the child is living can, as far as possible, be secured before during and after contact, and that the parent with whom the child is living will not be subjected to further controlling or coercive behaviour by the other parent."
Mr Justice Cobb highlighted the need for Judges to be more alert to perpetrators of domestic violence using courts as a way to continue abuse. The issues regarding domestic violence have been a long standing problem, not just with regards to the presumption. The Ministry of Justice has also alluded to changing the law to enforce a ban on direct cross-examination in family courts. The same practice already being illegal in criminal courts. A senior member of the Ministry of Justice said: "this is a matter we are extremely concerned about and looking at as a matter of urgency."
For further information or assistance in this area please contact Fosters Solicitors on 01603 620508.