Family Lawyers & Mediators in Brighton
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Domestic Abuse and the Family Court

The Court presumes that the involvement of a parent in a child’s life will further the child’s welfare so long as that involvement does not put the child or the other parent at risk of suffering harm – the child’s welfare is the paramount consideration of the Court when considering the arrangements for any children.

S1(3) of the Children Act sets out the matters which need to be taken into account when determining the arrangement for any children and are known collectively as the “welfare checklist”. They are as follows…

  1. The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his/her age and understanding.
  2. His/her physical, emotional and educational needs.
  3. The likely effect on him/her of any change in his/her circumstances.
  4. His/her age, sex, background and any characteristics of his/her which the Court considers relevant.
  5. Any harm which he/she has suffered or is at risk of suffering.
  6. How capable each of his/her parents and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant is of meeting his/her needs.

Domestic abuse can affect anybody; regardless of their gender, age, race, sexuality, religion or social background. Domestic abuse can encompass but is not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse. A useful took when considering if you are a victim of domestic abuse is the Power and Control Wheel.

There is evidence that domestic abuse is harmful to children and the Court have put in place Practice Direction 12J which sets out what steps should be taken in any case involving children in which it is alleged or admitted, or there is other reason to believe, that the child or a party has experienced domestic abuse perpetrated by another party or that there is a risk of some abuse.

If the Court make a determination of domestic abuse, they must then go on to consider if any type of assessment, including expert assessments would assist the Court at the welfare stage.

The Court should not make an Interim Child Arrangements Order or a Final Child Arrangements Order unless it is in the child’s interests and the order would not expose the child or other parent to an “unmanageable” risk of harm.

It is also possible to ask the Court for a participation direction using Practice Direction 3A to be made to prevent cross-examination by the perpetrator of the domestic abuse. This is a common issue when both parties are acting in person due to the restrictions in the availability of legal aid.

It is important that you make your family lawyer aware at the earliest opportunity if domestic abuse is a factor in your case so that steps can be taken to inform the Court and so that the Practice Direction can be implemented.

If domestic abuse is a factor in your matter, then you may be eligible for public funding. We are able to advise over the telephone if this is the case and guide you as to the evidence requirements for the Legal Aid Agency. If you are not eligible for public funding, then we offer an initial one hour consultation at £100.00 plus VAT.

 

Support for Domestic Abuse

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, there are a number of support agencies you can contact and further details can be found below:

  • Emergency services                                                                                                        999
  • Women’s Aid 24 hour National Domestic Helpline                                                0808 2000 247
    Refuge 24 hour National Helpline
  • Samaritans                                                                                                                       116 123
  • Inland Revenue                                                                                                               0845 302 0203
  • Rape Crisis
  • Shelter                                                                                                                               0808 800 4444
  • Victim Support                                                                                                                0808 1689 111
  • Crimestoppers                                                                                                                 0800 555 111

Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual period experiencing domestic violence

  • Galop                                                                                                                               0800 999 5428

Support for children and young people

  • Childline                                                                                                                         0800 1111
  • NSPCC                                                                                                                             0808 800 5000

Support for men

  • Men’s Advice Line                                                                                                        0808 801 0327
  • Respect
  • Mankind                                                                                                                         01823 334 244
  • Refuge                                                                                                                             0808 2000 247

 Support for women and children from minority ethnic communities

  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office Forced Marriage Unit                                   020 7008 0151
  • Refugee Council
  • Immigration Advice Service                                                                                        0333 305 3779
  • Southall Black Sisters                                                                                                    020 8571 0800
  • Muslim Community Helpline
  • Jewish Women’s Aid Helpline                                                                                     0808 801 0500
  • Somalian Women’s Centre                                                                                           020 8896 0783
  • Chinese Information & Advice Centre                                                                       0300 201 1868
  • BAWSO                                                                                                                             0207 6973 468
    24 hour helpline                                                                                                              0800 731 8147
  • JAN Trust                                                                                                                         0208 889 9433
  • Karma Nirvana                                                                                                                0808 5999 247

Local support

  • Women’s Aid Federation of England                                                                                    0117 944 4411
  • RISE                                                                                                                                            0300 323 9985
Legal Aid for Mediation
From 3rd November 2014 legal aid is available to fund both the MIAM and the first session of mediation where one of the people involved qualifies for legal aid.

 

For further information see Legal Aid Changes for Mediation , Family Mediation in Brighton and About Family Mediation.
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