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to think family courts are a flaming joke!

(209 Posts)
tryingtobeabetterperson Mon 25-Mar-13 17:52:33

I have read so many posts on here, groups on FB and other forums of desperate women who have left abusive partners to protect their children just for the courts to award contact and the abuse continues because unless it becomes physical the courts seem loathe to make contact supervised.

I know all about children needing fathers but even abusive ones that will hurt them or screw them up emotionally??


WorraLiberty Mon 25-Mar-13 17:55:54

Mental abuse is very hard to prove though, so I guess often their hands are tied.

millie30 Mon 25-Mar-13 17:57:32

I have been very lucky in my case that the courts took my situation seriously and contact was supervised for 4 years until my Ex was able to sufficiently sort himself out. But I have read some awful cases on here and elsewhere where women and children are just not being given the protection they need. I think it can boil down to which Cafcass officer or Judge you get, and there seems to be a lack of consistency in how these cases are treated. But from my own personal experience I am very grateful to the family courts.

Spero Mon 25-Mar-13 18:10:22

As someone who has worked in family courts for over 10 years, I think you need to do a lot more reading, a lot more research and a lot more thinking before you dismiss the entire system in such a fashion. There have been a lot of good threads on here which may give you more insight.

No system is perfect but the family courts are not a 'joke'.

tryingtobeabetterperson Mon 25-Mar-13 18:10:51

I see posts where women are urged and supported in leaving their abusive partners, and quite rightly so! But then when people start talking about doing it to protect the children, I just want to say "hang on..."

I have read about too many people broken by the system and being further abused through the courts to think it's that simple.

I hate it when a woman who is trying to protect her children is accused of being bitter and blocking contact because she's using her child as a weapon and the courts treat her as such

Could be worse though, from what I gather the American courts are even more anti women

Spero Mon 25-Mar-13 18:13:29

Maybe if you have a read on some of the manosphere sites and see how they are all convinced the family courts in every Western country are entirely pro female, you might get another perspective.

We all see what we want to see.

Have you ever been involved in a contested contact case? Sat in court? Seen what the judge does and says? Seen what evidence and documents are considered?

tryingtobeabetterperson Mon 25-Mar-13 18:14:05

I have read a lot on here Spero and a lot of posts from you where you seem to be a lone voice in saying the courts are fair

Of course people only post when they need information, advice or support. Someone who has had a good experience in the courts aren't going to post and I wouldn't know about it. I can only go on what I have read and what I have read paints a bleak picture

WorriedMummy73 Mon 25-Mar-13 18:15:05

There's also the flip-side to consider. I know two women who left their partners because 1) 'I love you but I'm not in love with you' and 2) there was another bloke. In both cases, where the Dad was a loving, caring, responsible bloke they were absolutely shat on and one was made to see his son in a contact centre for two years because the women lied and said the exes were abusive and the kids were in danger - neither was true. These kids lost out on their Dad's. Not always as cut and dried as we assume.

WorraLiberty Mon 25-Mar-13 18:15:19

So you think a woman should be able to rock up to court, claim abuse and that's that? The Dad gets little or no contact just because the woman is automatically believed?

That really would be a joke, wouldn't it?

Spero Mon 25-Mar-13 18:17:02

I am not a lone voice in saying that the courts do their best in very difficult circumstances and certainly do NOT force children into abusive situations.

But as you have already read what I have said and it has made no impact, you will clearly chose to accept only what fits with your already decided world view, so as you were.

Spero Mon 25-Mar-13 18:18:43

Er Millie DID have a good experience and HAS just posted about it.

I am all for debate but not just waving a flag for a particular prejudice. Pointless.

WhatsTheBuzz Mon 25-Mar-13 18:23:00

can be. I would take advice from people on here who work in family law
with a pinch of salt tbh, I was told by such a person that the Judge in
my situation basically wouldn't give a shit about ex using cannabis -
luckily for us, he really did. Made me despair though. Some people don't
know what they're talking about.

Spero Mon 25-Mar-13 18:30:55

Sigh. You cannot extrapolate from one example across the board.

I repeatedly tell clients a judge will not care about small cannabis use. This is correct. But extensive cannabis use, dealing, other criminal activities, being incapable of caring for a child because stoned out of your skull of course will be a problem.

I do not deny that mistakes are made. Show me ANY system operated by humans which is 100% great 100% of the time.

I am not an apologist for an imperfect system, creaking under the strain of no money, no contact centres, not enough judges, not enough court time. But it does the best with what it has.

What pisses me off about such ill informed ranting threads are the number of lurkers about to enter proceedings who may be terrified by some of the stuff they read.

WhatsTheBuzz Mon 25-Mar-13 18:38:35

my experience was okay in the end though I suffered severe anxiety and
depression as a result of it all. I agree with you to an extent though
especially wrt emotional abuse.

babyhammock Mon 25-Mar-13 18:38:57

I had a very bad experience

tryingtobeabetterperson Mon 25-Mar-13 18:40:01

Millie had a good experience but I have read more about bad experiences, but then as I said people don't post about good experiences, only bad ones when they need advice and support

Worra...there have been times when people have claimed the evidence was looked at and ignored or not even looked at at all. No women should not have that power there has to be evidence but sometimes/often it isn't looked at. But should children be put at risk and the courts used to further abuse abused women because of a lack of evidence. It's a hard call but the fact that evidence is needed and is hard to obtain in cases of emotional abuse allows for children to be put at risk and the courts used as another way of abusing the mother

tryingtobeabetterperson Mon 25-Mar-13 18:42:01

Spero, I could sigh back at you, you seem as dismissive as you accuse me of being of anyone who criticises the courts.

Also I am not extrapolating from one example across the board, this is an opinion I have formed after years of reading posts from anxious women who have been let down in trying to protect their children from different forums and groups on FB

Spero Mon 25-Mar-13 18:45:19

But it is all about weighing harm isn't it? It does harm a child to be refused any relationship with one half of his/her genetic makeup.

And it may harm a mother to be forced to maintain a relationship with an abuser to secure that contact.

The court has to weigh the harm.

It's a very difficult job. If evidence is being 'ignored' then you are more likely looking at a grossly incompetent lawyer who has failed to present evidence rather than a malign system deliberately looking to screw women.

I take massive objection to this blithe assertion that courts routinely 'ignore' evidence. That is not my experience. But to simply assert abuse without any kind of corroborative evidence is unlikely to get you a finding. Is this what is meant by evidence being 'ignored'??

As I said on an early thread the focus should be on educating people about abusive relationships and helping them out as early as possible, rather than casting all the blame on the family courts.

Spero Mon 25-Mar-13 18:47:27

I am not dismissive of people who want to talk genuinely about problems and consider solutions.

I will freely admit I am utterly dismissive of people who simply want to peddle some conspiracy/anti women theories, whip up fear and distrust and contribute very little constructive to any debate about what we need to do as a society to protect the most vulnerable in it.

HopingItllBeOK Mon 25-Mar-13 19:00:00

How can emotional and psychological abuse be claimed in court if there is no evidence that can be produced for them? I'm not having a dig at either side here, just confused by the logistics.

tryingtobeabetterperson Mon 25-Mar-13 19:02:05

Spero I would love to debate and help change things, I just don't know how! Gingerbread and Rights for Women don't get the same publicity as F4J and FNF

I am not trying to whip up fear, I am sorry if that is what I have done

But what happens in cases where there is abuse but no evidence such as emotional abuse which is just as harmful as physical and sexual abuse? What about the mother, I think she posted on here, or it could have been NM, where she wasn't listened to by the courts and her <10 yr old child ended up in therapy before the courts stopped unsupervised contact. If that is the kind of evidence needed then it comes too late and the courts have failed in protecting the child

Spero Mon 25-Mar-13 19:03:23

One person says - x abused me. X says, no I didn't, that either didn't happen (lie) or you are exaggerating after event.

With no doctors, police or eye witness accounts, the court can only assess the oral and written evidence of each party.

If the children are not showing signs of distress at school or anywhere else, it may well be the court just cannot make a finding.

tryingtobeabetterperson Mon 25-Mar-13 19:06:44

I guess if there is no evidence and the RP's word is not taken then the court's don't take it into account and the abuse continues.

It can be claimed, anything can be claimed, truthfully or falsely, it comes down to evidence or who the judge believes

I think. Not being in the system myself

I remember reading a report done by rights of women that showed failings in the court system where abuse had been claimed

goes off to google...

tryingtobeabetterperson Mon 25-Mar-13 19:16:20

Not found the report I had in mind yet but I am reading another one where it says how damaging emotional abuse is, but of course it's so hard to prove and protect against

So how can we change what's considered to be evidence in cases of emotional abuse Spero?

tryingtobeabetterperson Mon 25-Mar-13 19:29:08

If evidence is being 'ignored' then you are more likely looking at a grossly incompetent lawyer who has failed to present evidence rather than a malign system deliberately looking to screw women.

What happens now with the legal aid changes when women will be forced to self represent? They won't know how to properly present evidence and children will be put at risk. That's not the court's fault, it's the governments and the cuts they are implementing, but that will lead the courts to fail

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