Q. My ex was violent towards me during our relationship and I am worried that his vile temper will have an impact upon the children. Should I stop him seeing them?
A. The Court takes allegations of domestic abuse very seriously when looking at an application for a child arrangements Order. “Domestic abuse” includes any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional abuse. Domestic abuse also includes culturally specific forms of abuse including, but not limited to, forced marriage, honour-based violence, dowry-related abuse and transnational marriage abandonment.
As domestic abuse of any kind is known to be detrimental to a child’s wellbeing and may put them at risk of harm, the Court will look carefully at such allegations and may conduct a specific hearing to decide whether those allegations are true. During this fact-finding hearing the court will determine the extent of domestic abuse and consider whether contact with the abusive parent should be limited, accompanied or in some instances even take place at all. It may also insist on treatment for the abusive family member before contact is considered. Ultimately the Court will want to ensure that any order for contact does not expose the child to an unmanageable risk of harm and will be in the best interests of the child.
This is however an extremely complex area of law and you should seek the advice of a family solicitor prior to taking any action. It may help you to know that legal aid is available for victims of domestic abuse in family cases.