I am grateful for this post from ‘J’ who contacted the Transparency Project, wanting to share her experiences of going through the family courts and trying to deal with a violent ex partner.
The Transparency Project will publish Guidance in the new year on the law and practice in such cases involving violent or allegedly violent parents who seek orders relating to their children. Please comment or contact me if you have a story you wish to share. The Transparency Project also hopes to organise a conference to launch its Guidance and discuss these issues. Is the family court really failing so badly the victims of violence and their children? And if so, what can we do about it?
My experience started in 2014 when my violent ex applied to court for access to our child.
This was a man with 16 violent convictions, several against me and other partners.
I had managed to end the relationship in 2013. I got a non molestation against him, yet I was continually stalked & harassed by him to the extent that he was arrested and remanded in prison because of it.
I had rang the police 40+ times, 2 blue lights from Oct 2013 – Dec 2013.
He further harrassed me from prison with letters and was re arrested in prison due to that.
He was extremely violent to myself during the relationship and also my children.
He is diagnosed with 4 personality disorders back in 2008 ( unknown to me until court hearing started ).
Borderline personality disorder
Histronic personality disorder
Avoidant personality disorder
Paranoid personality disorder
Cafcass had several concerns regarding him and his violent history so the case was listed for fact finding hearing.
I was cross examined by a man that had tried to kick our child out of me at 10 weeks pregnant
He was extremely aggressive in the court constantly with the judge having him removed several times.
My barrister resigned from the case as he had threatened her also.
He was stabbed in broad daylight in the street half way through this case with a family I had proved to the judge he was fighting with constantly.
His lifestyle and violence was always present.
Yet the judge handled him with ” kid gloves ”
He only paid the fee for court £260.
Never paid another penny even though he was working.
He used my legal aid to get him through court ligitant in person .
As my legal team did all the court orders etc.
My police disclosure alone cost over £3000 funded by my legal aid ( that I contributed to until I had to move home for my safety & my living costs were highly increased ).
I was constantly called a whore & a slag in the court room in front of the judge yet all he got was a telling off.
Fact finding was in my favour as everything I had gone through we had documentation for from police etc.
But the court still said that he could have supervised access.
This put me and my child at further risk as the cafcass offices weren’t safe for me to attend I fought all the way to try stop any contact suggesting indirect contact, yet the history and indeed behaviour of this man in court and out didn’t seem important at all to the judge.
All I got was just because he’s violent don’t make him a bad father , something I strongly disagree with.
In August of this year he was arrested at the court by police for sending his 16 yr old daughter threatening messages.
The police sat in the courtroom with him.
Yet the judge seemed to not acknowledge this at all.
This was a man with extremely violent history trying to get access to a young child, yet was threatening his eldest daughter and nothing was said about it.
I have been to hell and back for 2 years having to face that man multiple times.
He would just email the court if something wasn’t going his way and then another hearing listed
I got out of the toxic relationship alive with my kids just to be thrown back into a extremely unsafe situation month in month out at the hands of the family courts.
I felt like a criminal sat in that court when all I was doing was trying to protect my child from a dangerous and violent man.
The system is flawed and it puts children at risk everyday