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)



I recently had an article published in Family Law Week and I was quite surprised by the number of ‘men’s organisations’ that uploaded it (if that’s the right word!) onto their websites. The short message of the article is this – men who are accused of domestic violence don’t have to prove their innocence. It is for the alleged ‘victim’ to prove their guilt. Also the received wisdom is to suspend men’s contact with their children whilst allegations of domestic violence are investigated. This ‘professional caution’ sometimes has the effect of unfairly alienating fathers from their children.

Apart from the law being clear about where the burden of proof lies, it has quite a lot to say about the standard of proof. The question to be asked is ‘Is it more likely than not that the event occurred?’ This is known as the  ‘balance of probabilities’ test. Theoretically, neither the seriousness of the allegation, nor the seriousness of the consequences is of any relevance. It is however clear from the legal authorities that the court may of course consider the inherent probabilities. This allows fantastical or highly unlikely explanations to be discounted, although context must always be accounted for. For example, contextually, how likely is it that someone broke into the house, sexually abused the child, whilst posing as the child’s father and offering the child her favourite sweet to keep quiet?

Having said all of this, where an allegation is a serious one, there is no requirement that the evidence must be of a special quality. However, the court at a very early stage, must be prepared to grapple with the possibility, or even in some contexts the likelihood, that not all grave allegations will be true. Also some may be exaggerated, whilst founded on a modicum of truth. This calls for a careful fact-finding approach and also a balanced approach to the question of continued ‘safe contact in the interim’ (a ‘rebalancing’) whilst investigations are undertaken.

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