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Draft domestic abuse bill published

The Bill allows increased access to justice for victims of domestic abuse involved in child arrangement proceedings and to adequately safeguard their children.

The Domestic Abuse Bill provides victims of domestic violence in the family court, for the first time, the same types of protection available in the criminal arena. The Bill not only extends the legal definition of domestic abuse beyond physical violence but importantly brings to an end the cross-examination of victims by their perpetrators.

These proposed changes are imperative since the removal of legal aid from the majority of family matters by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) in 2013. Although LASPO provided some scope for matters involving domestic violence, the restrictive nature of the evidence criteria resulted in many victims being without legal advice or representation and facing the traumatic prospect of being cross-examined by their abusive ex-partner. The Bill provides an opportunity to extend access to justice for victims of domestic abuse involved in child arrangement proceedings and to adequately safeguard their children.

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