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Review of how the family court protects children and parents in cases of domestic abuse

Ministry of Justice review

28 May 2019
Review of how the family court protects children and parents in cases of domestic abuse

The Ministry of Justice has announced a review of how the family courts protect children and parents in cases of domestic abuse and other serious offences. Alongside a public call for evidence, the department will be convening a panel of experts to make recommendations and report back in three months.

The review is expected to focus on:

  • The courts' application of Practice Direction 12J
  • The courts' application of 'barring orders'
  • The impact on the child and victim where child contact is sought by someone alleged to have, or who has, committed domestic abuse or other relevant offences

The review comes in response to the government's recent domestic abuse consultation, in which concerns were raised around the family courts' response to potential harm to children and victims, and an inquiry by the BBC Victoria Derbyshire television show. It also seeks to build on relevant provisions set out in the draft Domestic Abuse Bill.

The press release states that 'Every day family court judges do outstanding work making difficult decisions in highly emotive cases where the paramount consideration is the welfare of the child. Ministers now want to take a closer look at how existing safeguards in the court process are working in practice and, if necessary, strengthen them.'

The MA will be producing a response to the consultation and will be contacting our network of family branch representatives for input.

However, to cover those branches who have yet to appoint a family branch representative, we will also issue a general call for views from members before submitting our response.

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