Radford, Lorraine, Hester, Marianne, Humphries, Julie and Woodfield, Kandy-Sue
For the sake of the children - the law, domestic violence and child contact in England.
Women's Studies International Forum, 20
This article draws upon findings from a qualitative research study of the arrangements made for children to have contact with the nonresident parent following separations that resulted from domestic violence to women. In the article, we review recent developments in the law's response to domestic violence in England, showing how the criminal law and the family law, particularly in relation to children, have been at odds with one another. Within the criminal law efforts have been made to tackle the problem of “no-criming” and to afford victims better protection. Within the family law, procedural and substantive changes have made it harder for women and children to break free from violent men. A contact presumption and focus upon agreements made “for the sake of the children” through mediation/conciliation compound the battery of women and children by the law and expose them to intolerable risks. In the article we critically review the value of contact with fathers for children who have lived through domestic violence and briefly consider efforts made to enhance the safety of women and the welfare of children in other jurisdictions.