Reform for the better is always good news but until this is on the statute books the Family Court could help victims of abuse today just by ensuring that every Family Court and judge knows about Practice Direction 12J and uses it every time a vulnerable partner or parent risks being cross examined by an abuser.
A discussion in the House of Commons on Tuesday has revealed that the government will soon be announcing legislative proposals to prevent alleged and proven perpetrators of domestic violence from cross examining their partners in court.
Criminal courts currently have legislation to prevent this from happening, but no such legal protections are offered in family courts. A sharp rise in litigants in person thanks to aggressive austerity measures, is partly responsible for an alarming new trend which features alleged abusers and proven offenders questioning their victims in court. The experience often re-traumatises vulnerable victims and can lead to severe mental health problems, with some victims even taking their own lives.
To date the only way a victim of domestic violence in The Family Court can prevent an abuser from cross examining them is by asking the judge to put Practice Direction 12J into effect, which invites the judge to step…
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