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Domestic Violence and Contact


Home > Child Support & Family > Domestic Violence and Contact

igail Taylor - Updated: 18 Apr 2019 | *Discuss Tweet

The Government defines Domestic Violence as "Any incident of

threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical,
sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been
intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or

Domestic abuse is rarely a 'one-off' incident. Abusers generally

demonstrate a pattern of abuse. In March 2013, the Government
extended their definition of Domestic Violence to include 16 and 17
year olds as 'adults' within the definition. This was in recognition of the
increasing number of teenage girls who suffer domestic abuse at the
hands of (an often older) sexual partner. This change has also been
ed by a TV campaign highlighting examples of emotional abuse, to raise awareness amongst
ger people.

es of economic recession, domestic abuse often increases, and this year is no exception. In 2013,
itizens Advice Bureau reported an 11% increase in the number of people seeking help from them for
stic violence related matters.

do you prove Domestic Violence in court?

am a single mother of 2 children who are both under the age of 5. They have been through too
emotional and physical damage during the past 2 years due to the separation of me and their
r. He has been physically violent towards me and verbally abusive towards me in front of the kids.
re very traumatised; also their behaviour has regressed since this situation has started. The paternal
y dispute all of this in front of a social worker who has now placed the children on the CPS register
re holding a conference this week Wednesday. How can I prove his abusive conduct in court?"

e are obvious problems in trying to prove domestic violence in court:

a) Domestic violence is often disputed by the perpetrator's family and friends. Sometimes this is a
malicious attempt to derail an ex-partner's case, but more commonly, it is because it is hard to
believe someone you know and love could be an abuser (particularly when the perpetrator will often
act differently around others).
b) Domestic violence usually happens behind closed doors, when there are no witnesses.
Perpetrators will act differently around others and will often only abuse their victims when there are
no witnesses. Perpetrators are often very clever to hide any evidence (for example ensuring that
any bruises are in areas not seen by others).

s will always prefer concrete evidence (written documents or photographs) for the simple reason that

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are hard to refute. In the case of domestic abuse, it is not always possible to get this kind of
nce, so how can you prove abuse in court?

1) Take photographs (preferably time-dated) of any injuries. If possible, also attend your local
doctor's surgery as they can formerly record any injuries, and may be able to suggest a possible
cause for these at a later date to the court.
2) Record any abuse in a diary with dates/times/location etc all detailed.
3) Where any incident is clearly against the law, report it to the police so that they can provide a
report to the court.
4) If any neighbours heard anything, ask to provide a witness statement. They will probably not be
allowed to give evidence of what you have told them (as this is hearsay), but can give evidence as
to what they saw/heard themselves.

mestic Violence a barrier to contact?

daughter has an 11month old boy and the father is on the birth certificate. However, he physically
ed her and smashed the house up, and only served a few months for this. He has history of
tening behaviour and also assaulting his own mother and brother. My daughter is worried that he
be allowed access to his son. Surely this cannot be right with his history."

r Section 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998, everyone has the right to private and family life.
erous researchers have also found that children are better to have contact with both their parents.
nts therefore both have a right to contact with their children, even if they have committed crimes in
ast. This right does not change, even if one parent has committed domestic abuse, or any other
, and whether they have been imprisoned or not.

ly in some cases (particularly those where one parent has a tendency towards violence), contact
children will cause concern. However just because a parent has a right to contact, does not mean
hey have a right to simply take their children anywhere they like for a period of time; restrictions can,
will, be placed on contact between an abusive parent and their children (provided that abuse such as
dency towards violence can be proven).

s of contact

e are several types of contact:

General contact (free and unrestricted). This may also include overnight stays.
Contact with the assistance of a Children and Family Support Centre (usually to "hand-over"
children so that parents do not have to meet)
Supervised contact (fully supervised contact at a Family Support Centre which neither the child nor
the parent is allowed to leave during the session)
Indirect contact (such a letters, telephone conversations, email, Skype)

ses of proven violence (such a physical domestic abuse to the other parent), the abusive parent is
to only be allowed supervised contact.

means that at a pre-arranged time (for example once a week on a Saturday morning from 10-12),
would take your child to a local Family Support Centre. You can then choose to stay in a different
or leave your child with the centre and return to pick them back up. The abusive parent would
d the centre at the pre-arranged time and be allowed contact with their child / children in a large
overseen by one of the Support Centre workers. Centres often have various toys etc, so contact

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ly takes the form of playing a game/colouring etc together.

abusive parent would not be allowed (in cases of fully-supervised contact) to leave the centre with the
children, and a centre worker will be present in the room with them at all times.

n extremely rare circumstances when contact would not be allowed.

ering contact, the court must consider the child's welfare. One factor considered will be the child's
tainable wishes and feelings. However these are unlikely to be given much weight until the child has
able level of understanding (usually at about 14 years old). The court will also be careful to ensure
ny wishes expressed by your child, are not your imposed views, but rather their own decision. Your
will usually be interviewed by a specially trained CAFCASS officer who will report back to the court in

refuse to allow contact?

y husband and I split up nearly 2 years ago and we have a five year old daughter. He's never paid
hild support for her but still had access to her whenever he wanted. Recently I refused him access
he accepts responsibilities as her father but he's threatening to take me to court. At the end of our
onship he was very abusive and violent and got arrested a couple of times for beating me up which
aughter witnessed so social services were involved. Every chance he gets he tries to poison my
hter against me and my partner. Where do I stand in refusing to allow him contact?"

court order has been made in relation to contact, and your child resides solely with you, you can
e to allow the other parent contact with their child. If they wish to challenge this however, they can
you to court and you would have to explain your reasons to a judge, with evidence. If they are not
ed by your reasons, they will order contact to take place. It is therefore always best to be
nable. For example, would indirect contact resolve your concerns, or could contact take place
rvised, at a relative's house?

ourt order is made, you can physically prevent contact, however, to do so would make you in
mpt of court. The punishments for contempt of court range in severity from a small fine to
sonment. However also bear in mind that the court does have the power if it considers it appropriate,
erse a residential order, giving your former partner custody of your child, and you contact/visitation
. Whilst this is unlikely in domestic abuse cases, it is worth bearing in mind that the courts do not
ailure to comply with orders lightly.

restrictions can be put on an abusive parent?

worry for many parents who have been abused by a former partner is that in allowing them contact
your child/children, you retain a link with them, that will lead to them constantly pestering/harassing
Even if you do not speak to your partner directly to arrange contact (using a Family Contact Centre
at you never see them face-to-face), young children can quite easily reveal where you live (often not
rstanding why you would not want their other parent to know). If you have problems as a result of
ng contact or contact being ordered, you can seek some protection from the courts:

molestation Order
order prevents your ex-partner from using or threatening violence against you (which of course is
st the law anyway), and also stops them harassing or pestering you. [Note that breach of a non-
station order is now a criminal offence, as well as an act that can be dealt with by the civil courts.]

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pation Order
can be used to regulate who lives in your family home (and remove an abusive partner). However it
lso be used to prevent the abuser entering the area surrounding your home, in order to keep them
from your home.

raining Order
order prevents someone from carrying out a particular, specified action. A non-molestation is a type
training order. However you may also be given other types of restraining orders if necessary (one
example I have seen is the use of a restraining order to prevent one party giving out the other
s new phone number to third parties, after he had given their previous number to over a dozen cold-
g companies and advertised it as a "sex-chat line" on the internet.

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