Family Lawyer Victoria Aked continues to look at the new Domestic Abuse Act 2021 which became law on 29 April 2021.
With more awareness and changing societal attitudes towards domestic abuse, the Family Court requires an overhaul to ensure it gives protection to its most vulnerable users.
Whether it is the element of control, to harass and unnerve the other parent or because they want "another bite of the cherry", some parents will continue to bring a Children Act matter back to court again and again. This in itself could be considered a form of domestic abuse and parties can end up being in proceedings for years at a time. This takes not only a financial toll on the parties, but an emotional and psychological one too as the protracted litigation seems never-ending. It is also not in the children's best interests, which is one of the most important concerns for the Family Court when decisions are being made.
Once a Final Order is made in Children Act proceedings ie an Order determining which parent the child will live with and which parent the children will spend time with, the court already has the power to make an order "barring" one or both of the parties from bringing the matter back to court again within a specified amount of time.
The Domestic Abuse Act now ensures that the Court must consider whether not putting a "bar" in place (to stop applications being made under the Children Act) would increase the risk of harm to the parents and children. It is hoped this will limit vulnerable parents from being exposed to vexatious and spurious applications after the matter is supposed to have ended.