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Are some judges in the Family court out of tune with the lives of the people they serve to protect?

February 25, 2021 Speech Box

I’ve often been concerned that in cases of domestic abuse attendance at court can actually make the traumas suffered worse. It’s not the first time that view has been aired but it’s still the case that it’s a ongoing concern, and several women’s groups have elevated the debate.

In this story, reported last month, it was the outdated attitudes of some judges which were being questioned. Serious stuff.

The Court of Appeal has been asked to hear four cases highlighting issues how the court reacts to allegations of controlling and coercive behaviour.

Reported in the Independent, Lucy Hadley, of Women’s Aid, said: “Far too often they report that the courts still take a ‘contact at all costs’ approach to decisions on child contact with a parent where there are allegations of domestic abuse.

“This undermines the safety of survivors and their children, ignores the impact of domestic abuse on them and can expose them to further abuse and harm. This landmark case is an opportunity to shine a light on what survivors have been telling us for decades, and the urgent reforms that are required.”

The case in question will be an opportunity for the Court of Appeal to consider over twenty years’ of court practice regarding child contact in domestic abuse cases and the long term impact coercive control can have on victims.

The judges are considering their judgment.

The landmark case is reported in more detail in this excellent article in The Justice Gap.

The government launched a review last November looking at how the Family court’s approach to parental access effects the safety of children, with the findings set to be released this year.

Our Family lawyers have the knowledge and experience to guide you through these challenging times and have rankings in both Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 for their expertise.

If you are affected by similar issues or would like to have a related discussion in confidence, please call me, Louise Barretto, on 020 7091 2869 or email,

The above is accurate as at 25th February 2021. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.

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