RISE comments on the announced changes to Family Courts

Posted July, 2020

Last week the Government announced changes to family courts that have been hard-won by tireless campaigning from the women’s sector. Read RISE’s statement about this announcement.

RISE welcomes the reforms that have been announced - after many years of campaigning - which will improve protective measures for domestic abuse survivors in family court. This includes access to separate building entrances and waiting rooms as well as screens to shield them from their perpetrator in court.

Making it easier for judges to issue barring orders which prevent abusive ex-partners from repeatedly dragging their victims back to court – which can be used as a form of continuing domestic abuse – is another important change that was announced.

RISE urges Ministers to imminently launch a review into the presumption of ‘parental involvement’ that often encourages a child’s relationship with both parents, which is dangerous and causes women and children further harm.

RISE CEO Jo Gough commented:

“The report on family courts released acknowledged how a “pro contact culture” leads to the routine minimising and dismissal of serious concerns about domestic violence and child abuse. We welcome the acknowledgement by the panel, that perpetrators use family courts to further abuse survivors.

“These hard-won changes have come about through the tireless campaigning of women’s sector organisations such as Women’s Aid. We echo their call for fundamental reform of how child contact is arranged. Safety, trauma and children’s voices must be prioritised - and an investigative approach to understanding a child’s welfare must be undertaken.

“RISE acknowledges the work of Claire Throssell, whose children were killed by her perpetrator, to help raise awareness of this failing of the family courts to protect survivors. We sincerely hope that these changes come soon, so that no other mother has cope with the preventable death of their child.”

“We also hope that after that these changes that will protect the privacy and safety of families in Family court being announced, that the Government will take the next step and protect all domestic abuse survivors’ anonymity in the press – at any stage of the legal process.”