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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

22 NOV 2005

CONTACT: Re H (Contact: Domestic Violence) [2005] EWCA Civ 1404

(Court of Appeal; Thorpe; Dyson and Wall LJJ; 22 November 2005) [2006] 1 FLR 943

The judge's failure to have any regard to Re L (Contact: Domestic Violence) [2002] FLR 334, or to the Guidelines prepared by the Children Act Sub-Committee of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Family Law in relation to contact cases where there had been domestic violence, was responsible for the judge's serious minimisation of a serious assault on the mother, and had led him inappropriately to ignore the father's violence when making his order for supervised contact. The Guidelines had been breached in a number of respects, but in particular the judge had failed to consider the capacity of the parent seeking contact to appreciate the effect of past and future violence on the other parent and the children concerned, or the attitude of the parent seeking contact to past violent contact by that parent; and whether that parent had the capacity to change and/or to behave appropriately. The chronology of the case had been wholly unacceptable: there had been enormous delay; hearings had been vacated and moved apparently without explanation and there had been a complete lack of structured planning and judicial case management. In every case in which domestic violence was put forward as a reason for refusing or limiting contact the court should at the earliest opportunity, that is the first appointment, consider the allegations made and decide whether the nature and effect of the alleged violence was such as to make it likely that the order of the court for contact would be affected if the allegations were proved.

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