15th April 2021 at 5:04 pm #124815ISOPeaceParticipant
Hi everyone. I don’t know if there have already been posts on this, but I heard about a Court of Appeal ruling on how coercive control should be treated in determining child access. I’m not a solicitor, so I can’t provide anything too insightful on it but I thought it might be helpful to some of you and at the very least seems to be a positive step.
My understanding is that previously coercive control was seen as irrelevant to child access after the parents have separated because the parents no longer live together. However, the new ruling says that a history of coercive control indicates that the abuser could continue to behave that way in the new environment. I don’t know how this will affect cases in real life but it seems to offer some hope that the nature of domestic abuse is being understood better by the courts. Sadly the ruling appears to have missed opportunities for improvements in other areas, such as rape, see the link at the bottom of this post.
If anyone who knows about the law has any comment, I’d be really interested to hear them and of course everyone else’s view too 😊
Here’s a link to an article that summarises what happened and below is an extract from a longer article: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/mar/31/coercive-behaviour-must-be-prioritised-in-uk-domestic-abuse-cases-court-says
Controlling and Coercive Behaviour (extract from article, with link at the end)
Perhaps the most important part of the judgment relates to the approach of the Courts to controlling and coercive behaviour allegations. The Court observed that the vast majority of domestic abuse cases were underpinned by coercive and controlling behaviour. It is likely, therefore, to be central to the Court’s exercise in most domestic abuse cases. Even where there was violence it was likely to be part of a pattern of intimidation and control.
Importantly, just as the antiquated approach from the 1970s and 1980s of looking at ‘violence’ as something between the adults had rightly been left behind, so too should the approach of viewing coercive and controlling behaviour as incidents that are between the adults and ‘in the past’ and therefore irrelevant.
That the parties are separated and therefore not in a position where physical or sexual violence can be perpetrated does not address the underlying patterns of behaviour that are the foundation of domestic abuse. The Court observed that the patterns and attitudes that lead to abusive behaviour are likely to find a different outlet if not addressed and therefore to pose a risk, even if the route to a repetition of the past behaviour is closed off by separation or injunctions. A judge who fails to consider the issue of coercive and controlling behaviour is therefore likely to fall into error and expose themselves to an appeal.
Link to Women’s Aid article, which gives more detail on where opportunities were missed: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/court-of-appeal-misses-opportunity-to-effect-culture-change-needed-in-family-courts/
15th April 2021 at 5:28 pm #124823LisaMain Moderator
Thank you for sharing this on the forum, I am sure this is really helpful information to others, and a useful discussion to have.
I just wanted to remind everyone not to post anything specific or about their own experiences in court, as anything identifying would have to be removed. It’s really important for survivors to remain anonymous and safe while using the forum.
15th April 2021 at 11:42 pm #124848EggshellsParticipant
Thank you for posting this ISOpeace. It seems we still have a mountain to climb when getting those in power to understand domestic abuse but this is one step forward that will give hope to many mothers whose children are being used, by abusive ex partners, to retain control over them.
21st April 2021 at 12:07 pm #125010Living WarriorParticipant
Thanks for posting this, I know a few women including myself who this will benefit, and its handy to have the sites to look back on. thanks again
29th April 2021 at 12:18 pm #125331zenmommaParticipant
I am so behind this.
In final hearing for child contact proceedings now. Still feeling abused
Can anyone help how I can articulate to a judge that i did what i did because i was scared!!!
I hate that I am giving my abuser power again but I have to as I cant let him drip his poison into our young daughter
29th April 2021 at 12:57 pm #125333OceanParticipant
Thank you for sharing this information x
29th April 2021 at 4:13 pm #125339LisaMain Moderator
I can see you are after some specific advice and guidance around your up-coming court case. Please be aware whilst the forum can allow people to discuss “treatment” in family courts we cannot allow discussions on actual details of a case as this could affect the case. Do not post any details regarding court proceedings (whether criminal or civil).
Do not post a comment which could damage the reputation of a named organisation or individual – this is called libel and is against the law.
That said, you can contact your local domestic abuse service for this kind of support. Often local services will have IDVAs (Independent Domestic Violence Advisers), who are more trained on court processes like this and can advise. They may be able to go to court with you. They cannot speak on your behalf, but they can explain what best to say to communicate your situation and put your best case forward. Search for your local service here.
Also, you could make your solicitor aware of the Practice Direction 12J if they aren’t already. This is guidance that the family courts should be following when it comes to domestic abuse cases. You can read more about the PD12J here: https://rightsofwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Children-and-the-law-domestic-violence-and-Practice-Direction-12J-DIGITAL.pdf
The Coram Children’s Legal Centre is a unique, independent national charity concerned with law and policy affecting children and young people. They offer legal advice and representation to children, their carers and professionals throughout the UK. They can be contacted on 0300 330 5480, 8am – 6pm, Mon – Fri. The Children’s Legal Centre has a website at http://childlawadvice.org.uk/ .
I hope this is helpful.
Take care and all the best,
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