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Family Courts: Domestic Abuse

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 6th June 2019.

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Photo of Chris Williamson Chris Williamson Independent, Derby North

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to his Department's press release of 21 May 2019, Spotlight on child protection in family courts: A panel of experts will review how the family courts protect children and parents in cases of domestic abuse and other serious offences, whether that panel of experts plan to include a review of the status of parental alienation as child abuse in that review.

Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The expert panel announced on 21 May has a specific remit, first, to gather evidence on how the family courts are responding to alleged or admitted domestic abuse, including the operation of Practice Direction 12J, and the operation of this Practice Direction with the risk of harm exception to the presumption of parental involvement. Second, the panel will consider the adequacy of protections in relation to a range of other serious offences. Third, the panel will consider the handling of repeat applications in the family courts, which may be used to re-victimise or control children and victim parents, including the operation of section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989.

The Government is committed to ensuring that the family justice system can robustly address instances of parental alienation. Where Cafcass practitioners prepare a report into the child’s welfare, they are aware of the potential for children to be influenced or alienated by parental views. The Child Impact Assessment Framework launched last year provides further support for Cafcass practitioners in relation to alienating behaviour by a parent.

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