Solicitors in Milton Keynes - Family Law, Motoring Law, Domestic Violence

24/7 out of office hours domestic violence advice line: 0845 450 1281 (local rates apply)



It has long been one of the curiosities of our family justice system that Courts routinely allow perpetrators of domestic violence to directly cross examine victims. In many ways it is very much like leading lambs to the slaughter. Especially if the abuse has been serious, long and extensive. The prospect of being directly questioned by an abusive ex-partner often leads to injustice, as victims prefer to settle rather than go through the trauma of being “re-victimised” in the witness box. This in itself has the potential to  put children at risk, as all but the most robust of family court Judges are unlikely to interfere with an “agreement”.

Family law Judges do have the discretion to ‘screen’ questions from the perpetrator. This is a rather odd process whereby the perpetrator asks the Judge the question, who then either re-phrases it, repeats it, or simply asks the victim to answer it. This is as abusive as simply letting the perpetrator put the questions directly however. In many cases, the fact that the perpetrator can be heard to be raising the issue is what leads to discomfort as much as anything else.

A new law is proposed which will outlaw the right for abusive partners to directly cross examine victims in family law cases. This makes sense as it is already banned in criminal law cases, the task instead being undertaken by court-appointed lawyers. Although legal aid is available for all victims of domestic abuse, hardly any perpetrators qualify in the family courts. Family law Judges will have the power to appoint a legal aid lawyer to assist the Court, under the proposed new law.

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