Changes to guidance used in family courts is introduced today, designed to protect children from violent parents during custody disputes. The new guidance asks judges to consider whether the presumption that both parents should be granted access applies.
This includes domestic violence cases, where involvement of a parent in a child’s life would place the child or other parent at risk of harm.
National Women’s Aid statistics show that 20 children have been killed by a parent who was also a known perpetrator of domestic abuse. The majority of these cases followed a court order allowing the abusive parent access to the children.
“We want to see children’s safety at the heart of all decisions made by the family courts and this cannot be done without a thorough understanding of domestic abuse, including coercive control, and the devastating impact it has on children.”
Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, Katie Ghose, described the amendments as “vital, lifesaving changes” and called for all judges and magistrates to be specially trained in such cases.
At Women’s Aid Leicestershire, we welcome these changes that will see more emphasis placed on the safety of children living in domestic abuse households.