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Articles regarding Family Law
Matthew Body of Morgans Solicitors delivered training around Public Law issues - including both formal Court proceedings as well as Child Protection protocols. Several volunteers turned up and they found the training worth while.
Many thanks to Matthew
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An increasing number of the people who come to us for help and support are telling us that they are being threatened with allegations of Harrassment or Stalking.
To help people to have a better understanding of the issues we've compiled the following brief guide from the Crown Prosecution Service website.
Anyone faced with allegations against them MUST seek professional legal advice and in the first instance look at the CPS guidance in full which is available here:
THE CHARITY CONDEMNS ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE INCLUDING HARASSMENT AND STALKING
The term harassment is used to cover the 'causing alarm or distress' offences under section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 as amended (PHA), and 'putting people in fear of violence' offences under section 4 of the PHA. The term can also include harassment by two or more defendants against an individual or harassment against more than one victim.
Although harassment is not specifically defined it can include repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contacts upon a victim in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person.
The elements of the section 2 offence are:
- a course of conduct;
- which amounts to harassment of another; and
- which the defendant knows, or ought to know amounts to harassment of another.
Three defences are available to the section 2 offence:
- that the course of conduct was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime;
- that it was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment; (*see below) or
- that in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable.
(*) AN EXAMPLE OF A 'CONDITION' COULD BE WHEN ATTENDING AT A PROPERTY TO COLLECT A CHILD FOR CONTACT UNDER THE TERMS OF AN ORDER FROM A FAMILY COURT.
The elements of the section 4 offence are:
- a course of conduct;
- which causes another to fear that violence will be used against him; and
- which the defendant knows or ought to know will cause another to fear that violence will be used against him; and
- the defendant ought to know that his course of conduct will cause another to fear that violence will be used against them if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think that the course of conduct would cause the other so to fear on that occasion.
Section 4 also includes the following statutory defences. It is for the defendant to show that:
- the course of conduct was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime;
- the course of conduct was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment; or
- pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable for the protection of him or herself or another or for the protection of her, his or another's property.
The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 created two new offences of stalking by inserting new sections 2A and 4A into the PHA 1997. The two offences are in force from 25 November 2012 and provide further options for prosecutors to consider when selecting charges. The Home Office have issued guidelines and this can be accessed by clicking here.
Whilst there is no strict legal definition of 'stalking', section 2A (3) of the PHA 1997 sets out examples of acts or omissions which, in particular circumstances, are ones associated with stalking. These include: physical following; contacting, or attempting to contact a person by any means (this may be through friends, work colleagues, family or technology); or, other intrusions into the victim's privacy such as loitering in a particular place or watching or spying on a person.
The effect of such behaviour is to curtail a victim's freedom, leaving them feeling that they constantly have to be careful. In many cases, the conduct might appear innocent (if it were to be taken in isolation), but when carried out repeatedly so as to amount to a course of conduct, it may then cause significant alarm, harassment or distress to the victim.
Paul Apreda, National Manager, FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru - July 2013
The Welsh Government issued new guidance under The Children Act 1989 relating to both Private and Public Law and including the flowchart for Public Law outline on 27th June 2013. The document is meant for practitioners and other professionals in the Family Justice and related areas but may be useful to others in understanding some of the more complex areas - including procedural points.
The Guidance can be accessed here: http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dhss/legislation/130627childrenact89courtordersen.pdf
ON BEHALF OF FAMILIES NEED FATHERS BOTH PARENTS MATTER CYMRU
Following the story featured on the link below, the Charity has released this Press Release.
The charity Families Need Fathers Both Parents Matter Cymru regrettably accepts the need for tough action when dealing with the most intractable Family Law disputes.
The charity’s Chair – Helen Lloyd Jones said in response to the BBC News story ‘Contact matters are always heart breaking for the children and the families involved. When a parent has been forced to go to court to see their child or children, that parent will have been screened by social workers to ensure the child is safe with them. The process in the Family Courts is almost always a long and costly one both in financial terms and more importantly in the emotional impact on all’.
Evidence from around the world shows that children in most cases fare much better if both their parents play an active part in their lives as they grow up – whether they live together or not. 91% of all runaway children in Canada do not have their natural father in their lives. 85% of youth in prison are fatherless. 71% of high school drop-outs are fatherless.
In the Trowbridge and Ely areas of Cardiff almost 60% of households with dependent children have no adult male in the household – let alone the child’s natural father.
We also know that some mothers suffer post-natal illness that are not being diagnosed. One of the symptoms is that the mother genuinely hates the father and believes that he has treated her badly when this is not true. Families inevitably gather round the mother to protect her from an apparently “evil” father when it is the mother who needs medical help.
‘The importance of enabling children to grow up knowing the love of both parents is beginning to be recognised and while we understand how protective the mother’s family must have felt, we are grateful that the judge Justice Keehan has recognised how important it is to the child to know her daddy loves her too. We also would like to praise him for his insistence that a court order is followed. Too many parents disobey court orders and then wonder why their children have no respect for the law.’
Nearly one child in two will experience their parents splitting up during their childhood. We ought, as a society, do everything possible to help parents overcome their relationship difficulties. We ought to insist that a parenting plan for the children is drawn up and adhered to before the parents resort to any legal process. Children must come first.
‘We hope all will now go well for the little girl. She obviously has a very special daddy who loves her, if he was magnanimous enough to plead on behalf of his wife’s family.
We hope that not only her daddy but her daddy’s family will now also be able to openly love her and that she will grow up secure in the knowledge that ALL her family loves her.’
Press enquiries to
FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru - firstname.lastname@example.org / 07947135864
We've developed a simple 6 point action plan for Welsh Government which we'd like them to adopt for Fathers Day this year. Please let us know what you think - and whether you want any more information
• All WG funded programmes to record gender of parents / carers they work with
• Targets to increase participation of fathers and all other NRPs with WG services ...
• First Minister to make annual statement on the importance of fathers AND what the WG has done to help them in the past 12 months
• Encourage improved shared care of children to allow more parents (particularly single parents) to take up training or employment programmes
• Recognition of Parental Alienation as a form of emotional abuse of children
• Establish a work group under the Family Justice Network for Wales to co-ordinate improved collaboration for those organisations who have the DWP's Help & Support for Separated Families Mark in Wales