Access to Justice: The Problem of Child Contact in Domestic Violence Cases

Gillian Macdonald

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


From the early 1990s there has been a plethora of evidence highlighting concerns regarding domestic violence and child contact. This has resulted in various legal and policy responses, over the last 10-15 years, to promote safe contact arrangements through the family courts. However, the Family Justice Review (FJR, 2011) concluded that court should be a last resort for families making arrangements for children post-parental separation. Consequently, policy reform has taken place which seeks to diminish the role of courts in adjudicating private family law disputes. Changes include restrictions to legal aid and new measures to promote private resolution of disputes outside the court arena. A growing body of research highlights important implications of this new policy context for women and children's access to justice in domestic violence cases (Coy et al., 2015; Harding and Newnham, 2015; Mackay, 2013; Rights of Women, 2014). Alongside this, the UK government is currently under investigation by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as to whether it is fulfilling its international obligations in respect of victim/survivors' access to justice in the context of these legal aid cuts. This paper will examine the emergent evidence regarding restricted access to family justice and what this means, in respect of rights and wellbeing, for those seeking safe and beneficial child contact arrangements through the family courts. The paper will seek to make recommendations to address these issues.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016
EventBSA Annual Conference 2016: Global Societies: Fragmenting and Connecting - Aston University , Birmingham, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Apr 20168 Apr 2016


ConferenceBSA Annual Conference 2016
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom


  • Domestic violence
  • Child contact
  • Family Courts


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