Domestic Abuse Act
The Domestic Abuse Bill has now received Royal Assent and therefore the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 came into force on 29th April 2021.
The aim of the Domestic Abuse Act is twofold. First, to create and increase awareness and understanding of the concept of domestic abuse and second, to provide additional protection to victims of domestic abuse. Although the Act is now enshrined in law, most of the provisions will come into force later on this year.
The Act has a number of provisions which are relevant in family law cases, and particularly cases involving children. The Act strengthens protection for victims in the courts, including a statutory prohibition on perpetrators of abuse cross-examining their victims in person in the civil and family courts, and a statutory presumption that victims of domestic abuse are eligible for special measures in the criminal, civil an family courts.
This has coincided with the reporting of an important judgment from the Court of Appeal (Re H-N and Others ) which has offered guidance on how to approach allegations of domestic abuse within private children proceedings. Whilst few relationships lack instances of bad behaviour on the part of one or both parties at some time, particularly following a relationship breakdown where very often one or both parties make complaints about the behaviour of the other, not all such behaviour will amount to ‘domestic abuse’. It is important that the Court and professionals dealing with such cases properly understand domestic abuse, and are able to approach such allegations sensitively. In such cases it is necessary to be able to determine whether it is necessary for findings of fact to be made in relation to the allegations, upon which decisions about the care of children can be based.
These developments are really important and signal a significant shift in the way that victims of domestic abuse will be treated by the courts in future.
The team of family lawyers at Butcher Andrews are experts in dealing with cases involving domestic abuse and we would urge anyone who is experiencing domestic abuse to contact us, confidentially, for advice and support.
We offer a free 30 minute appointment, either at one of our offices or remotely.
Please contact us by telephone (01328 863131) or email ([email protected]) to arrange an appointment.