Family Court Practice, The
Order the 2021 edition due out in May
Court of Protection Practice 2021
'Court of Protection Practice goes from strength to strength, having...
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance Tenth Edition
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance is an authoritative specialist text...
Latest articles
Disabled women more than twice as likely to experience domestic abuse
The latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that, in the year ending March 2020, around 1 in 7 (14.3%) disabled people aged 16 to 59 years experienced any form of domestic abuse in...
The President of the Family Division endorses Public Law Working Group report
The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary has published a message from the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, in which the President endorses the publication of the President’s...
HMCTS updates online divorce services guidance
HM Courts and Tribunals Service have recently updated the online divorce services guidance with the addition of guides for deemed and dispensed service applications, alternative service...
Become the new General Editor of The Family Court Practice, the definitive word on family law and procedure
The Family Court Practice (‘The Red Book’) is widely acknowledged as the leading court reference work for all family practitioners and the judiciary. We are currently recruiting a...
The suspension, during lockdown, of prison visits for children: was it lawful?
Jake Richards, 9 Gough ChambersThis article argues that the suspension on prison visits during this period and the deficiency of measures to mitigate the impact of this on family life and to protect...
View all articles

Young Lawyers - Kate Gomery: Don't Fight Fire with Fire

Sep 29, 2018, 17:45 PM
Slug : KateGomery27072011-654
Meta Title :
Meta Keywords :
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : No
Prioritise In Trending Articles : No
Date : Jul 27, 2011, 05:50 AM
Article ID : 95351

Kate GomeryDomestic violence within family proceedings is an emotive and usually polarising issue,  but precisely because of that it is crucial for the lawyers who conduct the cases to keep a calm and objective head. Recently, I was up against counsel in a return date for a non-molestation order (I was for the applicant). My opponent's approach  in court was to attack my client's credibility in an aggressive manner whilst her client was sat next to her hissing disgusting things about my client just out of earshot of the judge. The judge was very critical of my opponent's confrontational approach, and unsurprisingly  it only resulted in the tension between the parties worsening. My client was verbally abused by the respondent on the way of out court and, within minutes of them leaving the court building, the terms of the order had been breached again and the police were called. Lesson learnt is that as a legal representative it is important to lead by example. I'm not saying that respondent would definitely not have behaved that way if their lawyer had taken a less hostile approach, but if you see your lawyer behaving aggressively on your behalf in court  it is almost inevitable that the result will be to inflame an already volatile  situation.

Where there are children in the family who may be exposed to domestic violence, the courts take a hard line approach and such children may only have restricted contact with the violent parent or, in more serious cases will be heavily supervised or removed if there welfare is at risk by violence between adults in their home.

However,  in divorce cases where there are no children and where the aim is to effect an absolute legal and physical break in an exclusively adult relationship, it has always struck me as slightly incongruous where, particularly on unreasonable behaviour petitions citing violence, there is no power available to the Courts to direct either party to address any violent behaviour. Just because there are no children of the family, should it mean that there is no obligation to  any future partner or children, or to society generally, to direct or at least strongly recommend attendance on a perpetrator or victims course?  Can it be said that encouraging physical and mental well-being  upon legal separation is equally, if not more, important than sorting financial arrangements?  I believe it could be argued that, where it applied, such a power would be more effective than "Clare's Law" currently being proposed, by which the police would have the power to disclose past convictions for abuse to a new partner. The current proposals, in my view, simply place  an ineffective bandage on an existing wound  and  do not pro-actively address the issues which may help to stop the cycle of abuse.

Sadly, organisations which provide support for victims and programs for perpetrators of domestic violence are the very type of groups that are being hit hardest by current funding cuts. In Liverpool I know that we struggle to find programs for clients at the moment, and even those that are available are under-resourced and over-subscribed.

Kate Gomery has recently qualified as a family law solicitor. She works at Heaney Watson in Liverpool where she is exposed to all types of family law work but particularly publicly funded family law cases. Prior to qualification Kate spent several years doing general crime and then serious fraud work.  She trained at Pannone in Manchester.

The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.

Categories :
  • Articles
Tags :
Provider :
Product Bucket :
Recommend These Products
Related Articles
Load more comments
Comment by from