Mina is very happy with her legal team. They are advising her carefully and wisely and although she is not legally trained, she can sense it. This in turn has created a strong level of trust between her and her lawyers.

Having had round the clock supervision in her home, the support worker has now been released and Mina is free to look after her children on her own. Mina has also been assigned a new social worker. Despite coming from the same cultural background as her, she finds him aggressive in manner and dogmatic about his perception of her situation. It is as if no one is really listening. It is frustrating and energy-consuming dealing with his emphatic dialogue but despite this, she sounds and feels better already. The interim care order has been removed and she has been told that she will now have to have a parenting assessment, as will Mohammed. Mina will also have to undergo psychiatric evaluation due to the domestic violence issues within the family unit.

But there is a new development in the case. Mina has told her lawyers that Mohammed is not responsible for the incidents of domestic violence towards her after all, but that it was in fact her brother-in-law who had injured her. Mina tells her solicitor that Mohammed was covering up for his brother and that she felt pressure from her parents in law not to divulge the truth of the matter to the authorities. Mina feels that explaining this to the court would be the only way to ensure that Mohammed is exonerated, so that he can come home.

And now Mina finds herself in a terrible predicament.

Having gone so far without mentioning this recollection of events, she knows that if she tries to convince the court now that Mohammed was not responsible for injuring her in the past, that the social workers and the judge will take a cynical view, and perceive this explanation as an attempt to cover up any potential wrongdoing by Mohammed, so that he can return home and she can have her husband and her children under one roof. Mina also knows that gathering evidence to prove this latest revelation will be almost impossible to do. Her only connection to this line of events lies with a complaint she lodged with the police several years ago in relation to her brother-in-law, whom, she told the police, had tried to sexually assault her.

Yet the alternative is just as bleak. If Mina and Mohammed continue to process their case on the basis that Mohammed has been and continues to be domestically violent (although any physical violence appears to have diminished several years ago and the case is now proceeding on emotional duress as per the new law surrounding domestic violence), Mohammed will not be able to live with Mina and contact with his children will remain either supervised or fragmented. Yet the system being what it is, this route would at least allow Mohammed and Mina to be with their children, albeit in a much less cohesive way than before the proceedings started.

They face a catch-22: If they try to convince the court that Mohammed is innocent, the court is most likely going to take the view that Mina is not putting her children first and cannot see the danger they feel Mohammed poses to her and the family, and the children will be placed in care.

And if Mina and Mohammed decide to go down the path of least resistance, the route which sees Mohammed as the perpetrator of domestic violence against Mina, their family will be divided with no guarantee that it will ever be whole again.

So, what will the social workers and the court do with this new information? Is the system sophisticated enough to get to the heart of the matter and are the professionals tasked with looking after this family able to work through this new turn of events to reveal the extent of the truth? 

In a system where time, money and resources are everything, and where the Paramountcy Principle is viewed less as a priority and more as a thorn in the side of a stressed and ailing family court, will anyone take the time to really see ?

DV