Women’s Aid’s latest contribution to the debate about domestic violence

There is an ongoing debate about where, and how, complaints about domestic violence should be dealt with. At the moment victims can receive redress in both the civil and criminal courts.

Women’s Aid chief executive Polly Neate has been quoted in a recent article for The Law Society Gazette as suggesting that domestic violence victims are “routinely abused” in the family courts.

Whilst one should be cautious about generalising – most Litigants in Person (LiPs) are well behaved – the rise in the number of LiPs has undoubtedly led to an increase in aggressive behaviour at the door of and inside the courtroom. There is certainly more that the courts can and should do to protect victims of domestic violence from further abuse.

My colleague Jane Barclay and I have been practicing family law, including regular forays to protect victims of domestic violence and defend alleged perpetrators, for in excess of 20 years each. Our experience is that family judges do not tolerate bad behaviour either in or in the environs of their courts.

It must be remembered that there are sometimes good reasons why one might wish to use the family rather than criminal courts, including importantly:

  1. You may not want to criminalise your other half but just stop their behaviour;
  2. You control the decisions made in the proceedings, including whether, when and in what circumstances they are to be dealt with;
  3. Very often the same facts are also relevant in other family proceedings such as what the care arrangements of the children are going to be or the financial consequences of the breakup of the marriage, and the criminal courts cannot help you with those.

If you are facing an immediate threat to your person the police should always be your first port of call.

If, however, they are unable to help or you would rather not involve them then please do contact us and we shall endeavour to help you.

The Family Team at Coley and Tilley have a lot of experience dealing with cases involving allegations of domestic violence and the consequences of relationship breakdown. If you require additional advice on either, Chris Allen-Jones, Head of the Family Department at Coley & Tilley Solicitors, can be contacted through the switchboard on 0121 643 5531 or by email on [email protected]