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Court approach to child case if violence

Court approach to child case if violence has been alleged is the subject of recent joint research by Womens Aid and Cafcass and the statistics it creates are raise doubts about current  practice in child arrangements cases according to Cheshire solicitors Stonehewer Moss because there  is a question left unasked ; how many applications in percentage terms are disposed of at first hearing and, as a corollary, why? The stats produced include the percentage of orders that are made by consent, 86% but that is another question. The writer of this blog suspects the figure is very high. The research is available on request by e mail to the writer as detailed below but a meeting to discuss options if faced with this issue, violence in relationships and a request or application to see the children, is advisable. If on a low income, the availability of legal aid solicitors should be checked by you first.

The court rules and practice directions are meant to safeguard children but the failure to progress proposed changes is the cause of some criticism for delay. While the writer is sure the courts do not cut corners on the question of welfare of a child, there is unquestionably a trend (perhaps following budget restraints) to seek early disposal of children cases. With apologies that the stats set out below are difficult to get your head around, the writer sets them down anyway and the first percentage figure shown, 39% is the most significant stat; the highest percentage of outcomes in violence cases is the child has unsupervised contact. It is a fact supported by court commissioned expert psychological evidence that children witnessing violence in the home are caused emotional harm. Are the courts permitting children cases to be disposed of without due regard to this fact?

If you have a solicitor in court it may  help reduce the possibility of a sanctioned outcome without at least your fears of harm being expressed.  The report of Sturge & Glaser mentioned above pre dates the practice direction meant to be followed . There are proposals in place to change or improve the practice . The most common tool of the violent person post the fact is to deploy charm. Are the courts at risk of being charmed by litigants in person to permit unsupervised contact?  Here are the stats from the research:-

Contact ordered18 (216 cases) Domestic abuse alleged No domestic abuse alleged Total Unsupervised contact 52 (39%) 40 (48%) 92 (43%) Supervised contact 9 (7%) 5 (6%) 14 (6%) Supported contact 5 (4%) 0 5 (2%) Indirect contact 7 (5%) 1 (1%) 8 (4%) No contact 3 (2%) 1 (1%) 4 (2%) No order was made about contact19 16 (12%) 7 (9%) 23 (11%) Not known20 41 (31%) 29 (35%) 70 (32%) Total 133 83 216

Court approach to child case if violence is alleged is the subject of yet to be implemented recommendations to reform. Current cases are being dealt with by  a procedure the proposed reforms seek to improve so representation in court may help draw attention to the need for caution in your case.  

For advice and representation in child arrangements cases please call 01606 872200 e mail info@stonehewermoss or visit www.stonehewermoss.co.uk

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Stonehewer Moss Family Solicitors, Citadel House, Solvay Road, Northwich, Cheshire, CW8 4DP

Family and Corporate Solicitors Northwich covering Chester, Crewe, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Middlewich, Northwich, Runcorn, Sandbach, Warrington, Winsford, and across Cheshire.

Stonehewer Moss Solicitors is a trading style of the Stonehewer Moss Limited, Registered in England No. 542 6583
which is a firm of solicitors authorised and regulated by the the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 471159

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