A recent article published by The Guardian has raised awareness about behavioural issues within court proceedings and the effect individuals who fail to be respectful can have on the progression of a matter and the making of further applications in the future.
A landmark ruling shed light on a father’s conduct whereby Mr B had continually harassed court officials and other professionals involved in the proceedings with abusive messages. Mr B had been described as having “bombarded the mother’s solicitor and others at the same firm, His Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service staff, Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service), and the mother’s local authority with many, many abusive messages”.
The proceedings revolved around issues of domestic violence and a non-molestation order which was put in place against the father. Judge Roberts believed that the father’s behaviour was intended to cause further distress, harm, and upset towards the mother which would have a negative effect on the children. The father had also been known to post negative material over social media with abusive posts about the mother and her family.
The father ignored the judge’s warning about his behaviour and conduct with court officials in previous court hearings, whereby the judge considered dismissing his application due to the type and level of the father’s abuse which was only exacerbating issues further. Judge Roberts decided that she did not believe it was safe for the child to spend time with his father, “when he refers to P’s mother and her family in such appalling terms because it seems to me inevitable that Mr B would behave in such a way in P’s presence”. To further this, the mother has commenced civil proceedings against the father for his behaviour which left her feeling distressed.
Mr B’s abusive behaviour has resulted in him being prohibited by the judge to lodge a new application to the court and can now only make a new application to the court after 12 months, only if he obtains a judge’s consent to proceed the matter. This shows how his unacceptable behaviour has backfired and has also hindered his ability to rebuild a relationship and contact with his children.
The ruling was encouraged and supported by Lucy Hadley, head of policy at Women’s Aid who stated, “Far too often we see abusers present as charming, and able to manipulate professionals in child contact proceedings”. The ruling was reached in hope that it sends a clear message to all court users that such behaviour, which has previously been a reoccurring issue when court staff members are trying to carry out their professional duties under a busy and strict time constraint, will not be tolerated. There was no ambiguity regarding behaviour from an abuser and the effect it has – not only to the family involved but to the wider network of professionals and the staff that he had interacted with.
Here at Farleys, we have an experienced team of family law professionals on hand to advise you throughout the court process and help you to ensure your conduct in court is respectable. For legal advice on a family law matter, please call 0845 287 0939, get in touch my email, or use the online chat below.