There can be a variety of reasons as to why someone may make an application to the Family Court in respect of their child, the most common is to regulate arrangements for contact. It could be that arrangements are agreed but a parent seeks the security of a Court Order to formalise that agreement, or it could be that arrangements have broken down altogether and a pattern of contact needs to be established.
When an application is made it can be a daunting experience for any parent who is responding to an application. For those who are a victim of domestic abuse perpetrated towards them by the other party it can be an even more daunting and overwhelming experience.
In these circumstances, there are measures that the Family Court can put in place for the victim to ensure that they can fully participate within the Court proceedings but are protected from the possibility of suffering any further harm. It is a mandatory obligation that the Court must consider a person’s vulnerability and if this will impact on their ability to take part in proceedings and if necessary, give evidence to the Court.
These measures can be, but are not limited to, the following:
- Separate Entrances and Waiting Areas
- Giving evidence via a video link
- Screens to prevent you from seeing the other party in Court
Recent case law has further established that the Family Court has a mandatory obligation to give consideration to how vulnerable parties participate in family proceedings. In addition, the Courts have been warned that failing to abide by the rules which govern how a vulnerable person participates in proceedings can be so serious at times it can affect the proceedings as a whole. In addition, the Courts were reminded that a person who is vulnerable may not always give evidence to the Court in the way a person who has not experienced abuse would. For example, a victim of domestic abuse could be less confident or may react differently to certain evidence.
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 has implemented safeguards for victims of domestic abuse, including ensuring that no victim of domestic abuse can be cross-examined by the perpetrator if that perpetrator is a litigant in person.
These safeguards are put in place to ensure that any victim of domestic abuse can fully participate in proceedings whilst feeling that they are protected from the possibility of any further harm.
If you have been a victim of domestic abuse and require advice in respect of Child Arrangements, or alternatively seek an order to protect you from further domestic abuse please contact a member of our Family Department on 01228 522215 or via email at email@example.com.