The family justice review has seen several proposals to improve the cost effectiveness of the family justice system. Amongst them, Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly has questioned the appropriateness of using public funds to foot the legal bills of separated couples in non violent relationships who refuse to communicate with one another.
The Telegraph cites statistics of £143 million spent in legal aid to deal with 45,000 child custody cases in England and Wales last year
Having regard to the financials involved the minister's comments appear eminently reasonable. However once one scratches the surface, the comments seem to be less well thought out. Whilst it is no doubt true that many separated parents cannot stand the sight of one another, let alone be in the same room to mediate, what the minister fails to grasp is that domestic abuse can take several forms, many of which can be just as scarring in a psychological sense, as physical abuse.
Domestic abuse in the form of intimidating, controlling and domineering behaviour can often leave victims scared out of their wits as well as feeling isolated and humiliated. It's not uncommon for victims to be threatened and told that they will be killed if they ever attempt to leave the relationship. Some non violent forms of domestic abuse can also constitute criminal offences, such as stalking.
I would therefore question the appropriateness of making victims of non violent domestic abuse sit in a room to mediate with their aggressor.
Amandeep Gill is a Professional Training PSL at Jordan Publishing.