The Family Court’s primary concern in any matter concerning a child is that their welfare is paramount and their interests must be put first.
The Family Courts have seen a significant amount of change over the last few years, not least the decimation of legal aid and the consequent increase in people representing themselves before the courts. The main area affected relates to Children Act proceedings where one parent seeks to have a child spend time or live with them (the old contact / residence issues). This has seen a significant increase in people representing themselves due to a lack of access to a legal representative following the changes to the legal aid regulations.
But this change has also impacted on victims of domestic abuse. These people have survived abuse and then later found themselves in the situation of being taken to court by the perpetrator of the domestic abuse; and more horrifyingly, then subjected to cross-examination directly from the perpetrator in the family court room. The reason for this is due to the lack of legal aid so people are representing them more and the family Court system allows for them to cross-examine the other parent. It is something that all solicitors and the judiciary have been concerned about for some time.
This week, the Justice Secretary Liz Truss MP has commissioned an emergency review to find the quickest way to ban perpetrators of domestic abuse from cross-examining their victims within the court system. This is something advocated by Women’s Aid who were pivotal in the campaigning for an emergency review. The review hopes to enable the family court process to be safer for victims of domestic abuse but more importantly, ensure that the child’s interests will still come first.
At Farleys, we have solicitors who specialise in domestic abuse work. We can offer advice on legal aid eligibility and offer fixed fee appointments and hearing fees. Please get in touch for confidential advice on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.