I recently represented the mother of two children who had left the family home with the children following domestic abuse. The father remained in the family home. The mother and children were living in difficult circumstances and were desperate to return to the family home. The mother issued an application for an injunction against the father to prohibit him from using or threatening violence against her, prohibiting him from harassing her. She also applied for an order that she be permitted to occupy the former family home with the children and that he be excluded from the property. The father issued an application to be allowed to see the children. In preparation for the first court hearing, I advised the mother on what evidence she should present to the court to help prove her case, and how this should be presented. The first court hearing was an urgent listing. It was conducted by phone. We were able to secure the return of the mother and the children to their home and we secured the father’s exclusion from the property. We secured injunctions against the father prohibiting him from threatening or using violence against her and prohibiting him from harassing her. We were able to secure contact between the children and their father with safeguards to protect the children from physical or emotional harm.
By the time of the next hearing, I had advised the client on a fuller statement of evidence and how to produce a court bundle for the judge so that the evidence was set out in accordance with court practice and in a way that presented her case effectively. I advised her about the formalities of giving evidence.
The next court hearing was conducted by video. The father sought to challenge the injunctions and he wanted additional time with the children. The mother alleged that the father had breached the injunctions by harassing her and by attending at the family home. The mother sought more stringent injunctions. She agreed to some additional contact between the father and the children but not to the extent that he was asking for. The Judge heard evidence from both parents. I cross examined the father and was able to draw out various admissions from him as to his conduct to date.
The Judge found in favour of the mother. The Judge made findings of fact against the father in relation to his conduct. The proceedings were then adjourned for a social worker from the Court and Families Court Advisory and Support Service to assess the family and to make recommendations as to future child arrangements. The assessment and the recommendations would be informed in part by the Judge’s findings of fact.