Family Courts: Domestic Abuse

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 15 April 2024.

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Photo of Helen Morgan Helen Morgan Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Levelling up, Housing and Communities), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Local Government)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to reduce family court waiting times for domestic abuse victims seeking to divorce abusive partners.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

In April 2022, the Government implemented the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (“DDSA”) 2020. The DDSA provides a minimum period of 26 weeks to obtain a divorce, and benefits victims of domestic abuse by making it no longer possible for abusive respondents to exercise control by ‘defending’ a divorce and prolonging proceedings. The DDSA did not provide an exemption for domestic abuse victims from the 26-week minimum period because to do so would require a victim to set out allegations, risking further abuse by a perpetrator.

The Government is working with the Family Procedure Rule Committee to consider whether a pilot can be established to test a new, fast-track procedure for contested financial cases on divorce under a certain value threshold. The pilot will aim to provide swifter outcomes for litigants, including victims of domestic abuse.

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