The Ministry of Justice has published its final evidence and consultation assessing the risk of harm to children and parents in private law children cases. The report reflects the findings from the call for evidence, following over 1,200 responses from individuals and organisations across England and Wales, together with roundtables and focus groups held with professionals, parents and children with experience of the family courts. Most of the evidence received focused on domestic abuse.

This final report provides an understanding of how effectively the family courts identify and respond to allegations of domestic abuse and other serious offences, in cases involving disputes between parents about the arrangements for their children, known as ‘private law children proceedings’.

Literature review

To aid in the panel’s research, the MOJ commissioned a review of the literature on the risk to children and parents involved in private law children cases of domestic abuse and other serious offences. It also aimed to review the literature on how these risks are managed by the family courts in England and Wales. The topics this review sought to address were:

• Children’s and parents’ experiences of domestic abuse.

• parents’ and children’s experiences of contact with perpetrators of domestic abuse.

• The response of courts and professionals to allegations of domestic abuse and to children’s participation in court decision-making

• The experiences and views of victim/survivors of domestic abuse and of children of family court proceedings

• The operation of Practice Direction 12J (PD12J) by courts and professionals

• The enforcement of contact orders

Please do see link for further details including the government’s Implementation Plan on behalf of the family justice system, detailing an initial system-wide response to the issues raised in the report, and the recommendations of the panel.

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