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Coercive control and children’s welfare in Re H-N and Others

Date:7 MAY 2021

When families come to strife arrangements must be made for the future care of any children. In some circumstances this means an application to the courts. These ‘private law orders’ can form part of a consent order as in Re B-B. Others are made under Sections 8(1)(a)-(b) and 9 of the Children Act 1989 specifying powers amongst other things to decide with whom a child is to live and when a child is to have contact. In 2019-2020 around 22 000 such applications were made involving some allegation of domestic abuse by one adult against another (para 3) with instances of domestic abuse rising because of Covid-19 (ONS 2020). Consequently the question of how allegations of abuse within family proceedings remains an urgent matter of concern.  However despite increasing recognition of coercive control as being central to understanding domestic abuse it remains less well understood in the context of  proceedings related to the future care of children.  As explained by the Harm Panel in its Report: the approach to such allegations is ‘implemented inconsistently’ and is ‘not effective’ in...

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