Family courts inflict a form of state-sanctioned abuse on adults and children – the government can no longer claim ignorance

Domestic abuse victims and children are being failed by family courts – it’s time to stop all the secrecy, writes Claire Waxman

<p>‘The courts are being subverted by abusers’ </p>

‘The courts are being subverted by abusers’

This week Channel 4 Dispatches looks into the family court system and will bring much-needed attention to the “state-sanctioned abuse” experienced by adults and children in this country. While the programme is incredibly emotional and difficult to watch, it is essential viewing, as we must shine a light on what is going on inside these courts which are currently shrouded in secrecy.

After calling for an independent inquiry into the family courts, the government agreed to a short review and, last summer, the Ministry of Justice published a report on the family courts which confirmed what many of us have known for some time: that survivors of domestic abuse and their children are being failed by the family courts.

The report collected overwhelming evidence of the systemic failings of the family courts to properly account for, and guard against, domestic abuse. It acknowledged that the courts are being subverted by abusers and used as a tool to continue harassment and control. This failure in turn leads to unsafe decision making, with survivors and their children being forced into court-mandated interactions with abusers.

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