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Family Court; A law Unto Itself!

Arguably the above is quite a bold opening statement to make regarding the Family Court. However those unfortunate souls that have been dragged through the Family Court will understand that such people lose so much due to the Family Court literally being a law unto itself.

Allow me to explain the difference between Family Law Courts and Criminal Law Courts.

Terminology

In Family Court the parties are normally a separating couple. Hearings will include either child custody disputes or non-payment of any support payments.

In criminal courts the parties are normally the the individual charged with a crime and the government.

The Different Purposes of Family Court and Criminal Court

Simply put, Criminal Courts are used to decide if an individual accused of an offence is actually guilty.

The purpose of the Family Court is not to decide if an individual is guilty of a crime. The Family Court’s sole purpose is to decide ‘how best’ to resolve issues that separating couples are unable to agree or compromise on.

Interestingly enough another purpose of the the Family Court is to use a legal test called ‘the best interests of the child.’

The use of this legal test involves the Family Court exploring the behaviour that affects a person’s ability to be a good parent to a child. This of course includes if a parent has been violent or abusive to the child, their partner, a parent of the child, or anyone living in the home. This includes physical, sexual, emotional and coercive control.

The Difference Between the Legal Tests

In criminal court, the standard used for establishing proof is known as ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ In layman’s terms this equates to evidence informing the court that there is no other reasonable explanation for what happened, other than that the accused committed the offence.

Now in family court the standard of proof is that of balance of probabilities. This essentially equates to the judge deciding whose story of the two parties is ultimately more believable.

These above differences then beg the following question: Can there can be a different result in each court because of the different standards of proof? Ultimately, the answer is yes.

Here is an example. In a Criminal Court, one partner within a relationship can be found guilty of physically abusing the other partner because there is no other reasonable explanation for what happened, other than that the accused committed the offence.

However in Family Court one partner (for arguments sake lets say the resident parent) could be found to be emotionally abusing their children. At the same time the other parent is attempting to safeguard their children from further harm via services such as Cafcass or Children’s Social Services. However should the judge choose to believe the resident parent’s account of events compared to the non-resident parent’s account of events then, the amount of evidence available is irrelevant. The abusive parent will not be punished within the Family Court arena.

Are the above differences ethical? Of course they are not.

Are they legal? Tragically they are.

But why? Because the family law is a law unto itself.


Please Note: We pledge to never make a profit or any other form of financial gain from any individuals affected by the injustice of the Family Justice System.

If you have been, or are currently affected by any of the above, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us. Whether it is for support, to share your story, to seek advice, or all of these reasons, please do get in touch, we are here to help. 

We pledge to never request payment from such individuals, nor request a finder’s fee from for any professionals for any referrals made.

The CCA Team

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