Weekly Family Law Update November 29, 2022


Domestic abuse. We’ve all heard the phrase, but do you really know what it means?

It is defined officially as the incidence of controlling, coercive, threatening, violent or abusive behaviour by one person towards another. It can include, but is not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse carried out by a current or previous partner or family member, regardless of gender or sexuality.

Sadly, many people suffer domestic abuse in silence for significant periods of time, often because they can’t see a way out, or for the sake of maintaining some semblance of family life for their children.

Court confessions

We often find that what has been happening during a relationship or marriage spills out during court proceedings, most commonly when arrangements for children are being debated. No matter how the abused party may feel about the behaviour directed at them, they cannot bear the thought of their children suffering further.

Hopefully it will comfort you to know that the court’s main concern is to safeguard your children and ensure their best interests are represented.

Domestic abuse features in a significant proportion of legal proceedings relating to children. It is the court’s role to make decisions that are balanced carefully, so everyone is kept safe and children are able to maintain a relationship with both parents, as long as it is OK to do so.

It is accepted by the legal system that children are harmed by being exposed to or living with domestic abuse. The impact this can have includes physical symptoms, such as trauma and stress, plus emotional and mental health issues and behavioural difficulties.

Don’t suffer any longer

Domestic abuse is not acceptable in any situation.

If your children have been exposed to abusive behaviour, it is very important to disclose this at the beginning of legal proceedings. It is the role of the court to assess the impact it has had, together with the future risks.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse and feel fearful of, or controlled by, a partner, former partner or family member, please remember it is not your fault. There is no shame in seeking help and opening up about this behaviour. We can put emergency injunctions in place and ensure you receive the support you need from the police and other agencies.

We speak to many people who have sadly suffered at the hands of an abuser and don’t realise it may have caused harm to their children, because the ill-treatment was not directed at them. However, it is important to identify the issues early on if you are to limit the long-term impact observing such behaviour can have on their formative years.