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Ask The Legal Expert- Abusive Partners & Child Contact

View profile for Angela Killa
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This month Angela Killa, based in our Carmarthen office, shares her advice regarding access to a child after allegations of an abusive partnership.

"My ex-boyfriend has applied to the Court to see our daughter. He was abusive towards me, I’m scared of him and I don’t want him to see our child. What can I do?"

While your fears are understandable under the circumstances, the Court will always start with the view that it is in your daughter’s best interests to see her father unless there are very good reasons to go against this.

So, if you believe the abuse your ex-husband inflicted upon you had a negative impact upon your child, the Court is likely to want to hear evidence about what happened so they can decide what level of contact is in your daughter’s best interests.  This is called a Re L Hearing or a Finding of Fact Hearing.

You may be required to prepare documents detailing what has happened and your ex-boyfriend will then have an opportunity to respond to these documents. The Court may also want information from the police, hospitals, or GP’s, if they have been involved, or if you have received treatment because of any violent incidents.  You may want to consider if you have any witnesses who can give you supporting statements.

When the evidence is filed the Court will arrange a hearing for you, your ex-partner and any witnesses, to give evidence.  This can be a stressful situation for all involved, so be sure to contact the Court ahead of the hearing date - they may be able to arrange for you and your partner to have separate waiting rooms, or for you to give evidence via a video link from a separate room.

After the hearing the Judge will give a judgement and they will decide whether it is in your daughter’s best interest to spend time with her father.

If there is a safe way for your daughter to spend time with her father that does not negatively impact on her, the Court will try to make arrangements for this.  If the Judge decides that face-to-face contact is not safe, they will consider how a relationship between them may be maintained -  perhaps via written contact.  Your daughter may be asked her views about contact with her father, which the Judge will take into consideration depending on her age and her level of understanding.

For more information, please contact Angela on: 01267 248893 or by email at: angela.killa@jcpsolicitors.co.uk.

The question posed in this blog is based on a hypothetical situation.

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