Domestic Abuse in Child Cases

Revised Practice Direction to strengthen the Court’s focus

on domestic abuse in children cases

Katherine Wright, Solicitor

On 2nd October 2017 a revised Practice Direction came into force which applies to any family proceedings where the Court is asked to consider: (a) where a child should live; and/or (b) the contact arrangements between a child and their parent.

Where domestic abuse is alleged to be perpetrated by one party to another and a child has suffered harm or is at risk of harm as a result, the Court will now be required to take certain mandatory steps to assess the effect of this problem in any particular case and the available remedies to address it if it is found to exist.

There is also now going to be a wider definition of domestic abuse in all its forms, in contrast to the previous terminology.

This stems from a growing understanding in modern society of the effect of domestic abuse on parents, both men and women, where their parenting capacity can be compromised so as to lead their children to suffer harm indirectly. Children can also be victims of domestic abuse directly as well.

The Court has to establish quickly whether any domestic abuse is relevant to the issues in dispute, which means contested factual and welfare issues having to be determined as soon as possible fairly and proportionately.

Whether there are any admissions or evidence of domestic abuse, the Court must be satisfied that any contact or arrangements for the children are in their best interests by applying the welfare checklist and that therefore there is no risk of exposure to harm for them or their parent.

The Court will normally presume that the involvement of a parent in a child’s life will further the child’s welfare but, where domestic abuse is evident, this may overturn that statutory presumption.

These are very difficult issues but the revised Practice Direction will now ensure they are not overlooked or minimised, and the Courts can be held to account by the parties using them to ensure that this is always the case.

At Crosse + Crosse, we have solicitors specialising in children cases who are experienced at dealing with these types of issues.

Please feel free to contact us on 01392 258451 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to arrange an appointment or discuss matters further.