Lead shared parenting charity, Families Need Fathers, has criticised a recent study jointly published by CAFCASS and Women’s Aid, indicating that 62% of Children Act 1989 applications heard before the family courts involved a risk domestic abuse. Families Need Fathers has described the joint report as “…one-sided publication that is clearly intended to influence practice in the Family Courts” which “betrays the trust of fathers”. The charity cited the connection between the rise in allegations in domestic abuse and its link to securing public funding for legal matters.
In their report, CAFCASS noted the complexity of cases involving allegations of domestic abuse, including that 9 out of 10 cases with domestic abuse allegations also involved other safeguarding concerns, e.g. substance abuse or mental health problems. In cases with domestic abuse allegations, Family Court Advisers recommended either indirect or no contact in over a quarter of cases where domestic abuse is alleged. In the majority of cases featuring domestic abuse allegations, where unsupervised contact was ordered, such contact had been taking place prior to the application to court. Unsupervised contact was ordered at the first hearing in 23% of cases involving such allegations, 44% of cases at the same point had some sort of contact ordered. Where a domestic abuse allegation was made, supervised or supported contact was more likely to be ordered at the first and final hearing in cases, as was indirect or no contact. Where the order at the final hearing was known, it was less common for unsupervised contact to be ordered in cases featuring allegations of domestic abuse (39%) than cases without (48%).
Hunter & Uro partner, Philip Hunter said,”The joint CAFCASS and Women’s Aid report highlights the complexity of many family cases, often involving a entangled nexus of allegations from both sides, covering everything from domestic abuse, substance abuse and mental health concerns. These allegations have to be investigated as part of fundamental safeguarding checks at the outset of a case. These allegations of abuse must be examined robustly, to ensure that children are not placed at risk of harm first and foremost, but also to ensure that those who have suffered abuse are not placed at further risk themselves. It is essential that the court services have the resources available to allow them to examine these allegations fully.”
If you would like to discover more about how we can assist you through court proceedings relating to your children, you can contact the Hunter and Uro team here.