Welcome to another week.
A family law barrister, with 15 years’ experience, said that the family justice system was unsafe for domestic violence victims, lacked transparency and left her traumatised, after experiencing her own contact battle as a mother through the courts.
The barrister, who chose not to reveal her identity in a Daily Mail piece published today, said her ex partner had made the submission for contact following her refusal to let their daughter have overnight stays with him because of abuse the mother had suffered by the father.
The barrister lost her case and is now appealing.
In the story, she says staff inside the system made her feel belittled, and bullied her, and that her allegations of abuse were minimised and dismissed while her former partner’s behaviour was described by the judge in her case as ‘inappropriate parenting.’
She told the Daily Mail, “My experience convinced me the family court is not safe for women and children who are victims of abuse. I was telling the truth, had medical and police evidence, and had done everything ‘right’. Yet I lost the case.”
The barrister told the tabloid she was now too traumatised to go back to work as a family law barrister.
While it is good of this lawyer to come forward and tell her story in order to highlight the poor practice and lack of awareness around domestic abuse, this is not the first time a professional inside the family justice system has ‘turned’ on the system after being targeted by it.
At least one female solicitor and one female social worker have come forward in recent years to criticise the family courts after having to go through the system as a service user.
What really concerns Researching Reform however, is that these individuals all worked inside the system for years — in the case of the barrister in this story, for more than a decade — and yet they appear not to have understood or cared to acknowledge and address the very serious gaps inside the courts while earning a living from that system.
Gaps, which by their own admission, deeply traumatise people when they are at their most vulnerable, and in extreme cases put the lives of children and parents at risk.
Anyone who has been inside the system for more than a moment can see very clearly that it is reckless with people’s lives – professionals inside the system shouldn’t wait until they are personally affected before advocating for change.
Many thanks to Dana for alerting us to this story.