Our primary role, in every case we’re involved with, is to safeguard the child and ensure that their best interests are represented within the court proceedings. Domestic abuse is a concern in a significant proportion of our private law (divorce and separation) cases. It is our role to assist the court to carefully balance their decisions so that children and adults are kept safe and that children are able to maintain a relationship with both parents where this is safe and in their best interests.
What is domestic abuse?
The government defines domestic abuse as “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can include, but is not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.”¹
Domestic abuse and children
We know from research that children will be harmed by being exposed to and living with domestic abuse. The effects of domestic abuse on children may include emotional and behavioural difficulties and physical symptoms associated with trauma and stress. The impact of domestic abuse on the child will always be the focus of any work undertaken by Cafcass.
How does Cafcass assess domestic abuse?
If the court has asked us to prepare a report, we will provide an assessment to the court which will focus on the impact of the domestic abuse on the child and any future risk.
Cafcass will undertake an assessment which will include interviewing both parents and the child/ren. Cafcass has a structured framework for assessing cases where domestic abuse is a feature called the Domestic Abuse Practice Pathway. The Cafcass Family Court Adviser may also use other information gathering and assessment tools from our evidence informed tools.
¹ Gov.uk Domestic violence and abuse
The Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programme (DAPP) aims to help people who have been abusive towards their partners or ex-partners to change their behaviour and develop respectful, […]