Family Law Hub

Harassment & Domestic Violence

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  • Knowles J had invited the father to provide written submissions as to whether the terms of an extended civil restraint order (ECRO) to control his litigation conduct, due to expire in November 2020, should be extended. The children in question were now aged 14 and 20. Since the making of the ECRO the father had made seven applications which had fallen within the remit of the ECRO, all of which had been refused, three of them having been totally without merit. Knowles J asked herself whether there was good reason to apprehend persistent vexatiousness by the father in the future, and decided that there was. The ECRO would be extended to November 2022. Judgment, 04/01/2021, free
  • The child arrangements order being appealed by the mother had been made by consent at the FHDRA, and had provided for the three children to live with her and spend time with the father. No reasons were given by the magistrates, and there were no references in the order to allegations of domestic abuse, safeguarding checks or to Practice Direction 12J – Child Arrangements and Contact Orders: Domestic Abuse and Harm, Family Procedure Rules 2010. The mother's grounds of appeal also asserted that a report supporting the terms of the order had been made without observing the father with the children and without the author having given proper consideration to the allegations of domestic violence. HHJ Cove found that the magistrates' decision was plainly wrong. No reasons had been given, the court had not had regard to PD 12J, the safeguarding checks were incomplete, and there had been no analysis of whether the consent order should be made nor of the risk of harm to the children. The order was set aside. Judgment, 18/12/2020, free
  • The parents had lived together for twelve years. During previous proceedings regarding contact with their two children, the mother had alleged domestic abuse on the father's part, both towards her and towards a subsequent partner. Following a conviction for assault on a third partner, he applied to enforce an order for contact, in response to which the mother raised the issue of his violent behaviour towards multiple partners. The district judge found that there had been domestic abuse, but later recused herself after realising that her son and the mother were members of the same sports club. The judge then agreed to re-open the district judge's earlier findings of fact on the basis of apparent bias. The mother appealed with regard to the recusal and the decision to re-open the findings. Peter Jackson LJ found that the judge's decision had been both wrong and unfair. The district judge had not discovered that her son and the mother knew each other until months after her findings of fact had been made. King and Phillips LJJ agreed. The father's application was dismissed, and the proceedings were remitted for the welfare decision to be taken on the basis of the district judge's findings of fact by another circuit judge. Judgment, 17/12/2020, free
  • The mother's appeal against a finding, made at a fact-finding hearing in the course of Children Act proceedings, that she had assaulted the father just before they separated. She appealed on the grounds that the judge had been in error regarding the photographs the father had taken of his injuries. Judd J DBE found that the date stamps showed that the photographs had been taken on a date inconsistent with the father's account of events, which would have undermined his reliability and credibility with regard to the entire incident. The finding of the Recorder was thus set aside. However, orders had subsequently been made in the Children Act proceedings, and Judd J DBE did not think it desirable or proportionate for the matter to be remitted for rehearing, so it would rest as it was. Judgment, 28/11/2020, free
  • The father appealed against an order that he should only have indirect contact with his children (aged 8 and 7), that they should live with their mother, and that he should excluded from making decisions with respect to their education and health. Judd J DBE concluded that this appeal should be allowed. The recommendation of the Cafcass officer, as accepted by the judge, had been based upon the officer's view that the father had engaged in coercively controlling and abusive behaviour, but these findings had not formally been sought and there had not been a fact-finding hearing. The Cafcass officer had not observed the children with their father. If the recorder had weighed in the balance the harm that could be caused to the children by the immediate loss of their relationship with the father, it was not apparent from the judgment. The case was remitted for rehearing, and would have to be listed for another FHDRA, where questions such as separate representation for the children, the ambit of any fact-finding hearing, and whether there should be a psychological assessment of the father would be considered. Judgment, 25/09/2020, free

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Latest training

  • Roshi Amiraftabi of 29 Bedford Row, reviews the key private children law cases, themes and practice developments from the past 12 months. Webcast, 31/05/2018, members only
  • In this webcast, which was first presented on 16 July 2015, Anton Eriera from 29 Bedford Row talks about domestic violence cases and the most recent developments in this area of law. Webcast, 31/07/2015, members only

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