The news this week that the government is finally getting around to addressing the practice of abusers personally cross examining their victims in the family courts has been welcomed by domestic violence campaigners and the President of the Family Division.
However, this is going to require legislation, which is going to take time.
If you are currently going through the family courts and are worried that your partner may be going to question you directly at an upcoming hearing, you don’t have to wait for the law to protect you.
Practice Direction 12J advises all family law judges to step in and prevent victims and alleged victims of domestic violence from being cross examined by partners who have already been convicted of abusive behaviour or have been accused of such behaviour by the victim. Whilst this Direction is only guidance and does not have the same binding effect as law, its implementation must be considered.
You have the right to ask the judge in your case to consider 12J and request that the court prevents an alleged abuser from cross examining you. If the judge refuses your request, you have the right to ask the judge for his or her reasons for the refusal.
More information on this can be found below:
- Cross examination by alleged abusers is ILLEGAL in the criminal court
- House of Commons Debate on cross examination by alleged abusers and how this affects victims
- President of the Family Division on the practice
- Government review