Parent Lawyers

“I don’t know how you do it. It must be so depressing.”

Most of the time you just get on with it.

And every so often it really gets you. Mostly when you least expect it.

The responsibility of acting for parents desperately clinging to a forlorn hope they will keep their children, get their children back, stop them being adopted is heavy and encroaches on life at home. Because most often, for all our efforts, we are unsuccessful. And at times the happy endings seem few and far between, the files and files of paperwork telling stories of abuse and neglect and damage and removal loop through generations, are loaded and unloaded into suitcases, wheeled home for late night reading, wheeled to court, wheeled slowly back to chambers and tied sadly back up with Pink Tape endorsed with the final chapter “final care and placement orders made”. We tell our clients we can’t work miracles, and the truth is that many care clients are sadly damaged and desperately unrealistic, doing their best and yet repeating their parents’ own mistakes. And yet. It is hardwired into us to wonder if there was something we missed, something that would have got a better outcome for the client.

I’m sorry. The judge is going to make the order. They will take him tonight.

At these bleak moments life oscillates between self doubt and despair. I should have done better versus nothing I could have done would have made a difference. And so sometimes all the late nights, the missed bedtime stories, the grumpy rushed mornings, the missed school plays – don’t seem justified. You let down your family, you let down your client. You let down that child you never get to meet but have read so much about. You let down yourself.

Keeping a professional distance is only so much protection. It gives a little emotional insulation, and protects the client against the poor judgment of the adviser who has got too close. But there is an unavoidable interplay between the ups and downs of family life at home and the sometimes familiar scenarios described in logs and statements. All of us have read papers and swallowed hard to read a parent criticised for something that we have done. Of course we know that these cases are not about the single incident but the pattern of care. We know that we are not like our clients. Are we? As parents we are all insecure in our abilities and we all have bad days. On some days the parent lawyer can come home reminded that for all the stresses of life at home, they are not such a bad mum after all : we see some truly terrible parenting. But on some days it is easy to identify with the mother who is trying her best and getting it all wrong.

Clients still ask me if I have kids. But as time goes on the tone is different – once it was an insinuation (“you obviously don’t have kids”), now it’s a indicator of confidence.

I’m an imperfect parent and an imperfect lawyer. I hope that my imperfections as a mum help make me a better representative, and that the things I learn at work make me a better mum. I hope.

 

28 thoughts on “Parent Lawyers

  1. As someone who spent many years working from the other end I can tell you we have the same doubts.

    Are we making the right decision; will this child’s life improve if we intervene; are we making things worse; does the evidence support the plan we are proposing; what happens if I dont succeed; could I have done more to prepare or gather evidence; have I left a child in some awful situation which I should have got him or her out of.

    I certainly experienced a lot of these doubts over the years and I still have deep disgivings about two cases which were dismissed where I thought the decision was absolutely wrong.

    • I should say I’m not always a parent lawyer, but have had a run of parent work. The whole self doubt, process doubt etc applies similarly when acting for LA or child.

  2. Dear Ms Reed,
    I am reading your book as part of my training to become a Mediator. Just to say I am finding it hugely entertaining and a very easy read. I also love your sense of humour!
    ‘Do not call the opposing lawyer: “that shark my wife has hired”-hilarious!
    One minor criticism: I was disappointed not to find Families Need Fathers amongst your list of Internet Resources.
    Kind regards,
    Anthony Esler

    • Dear Anthony,
      Thanks for drawing that to my attention – if FNF are not in there it is only by virtue of an error – it was certainly meant to be in there. I will make sure it is in the next issue. Thanks for pointing it out.
      Lucy

  3. I think L.J Thorpe summed it up pretty well !
    (Family torn apart in 15-minute court case by Judge James Orrell … ) Lord Justice Thorpe said on Appeal “I am completely aghast at this case.There is nothing more serious than a removal hearing,because the parents are so prejudiced in proceedings thereafter.Once you have lost a child it is very difficult to get a child back.” The hearing above lasted only 15 minutes after a doctor “expressed the opinion” that bruising in the ear of one of the three children looked as though it was caused by pinching .The parents were not allowed to give any evidence!Their three children had all been forcibly removed until they were ordered to be returned by Lord Justice Thorpe .
    When such a senior judge admits that his courts are” prejudiced” what chance do desperate parents have??

    • Ian, I’ve no idea which case you are quoting so your quote taken in isolation is pretty meaningless. BUT, even on the basis of your quote – it doesn’t say that the courts are prejudiced. He says that there is prejudice to the parents. That isn’t quite the same thing. And, again on the basis of the limited quote, he is describing an aberration rather than normal practice. The prejudice he is talking about is the prejudice that inevitably flows from having a child removed at an interim stage (even where that removal is justified on safety grounds), which makes it that much harder for parents to demonstrate their good parenting for the remainder of proceedings.

  4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1359252/Family-torn-apart-15-minute-court-case-Judge-James-Orrell.html
    The good old Daily Mail reported the case so I am sure you can find it in the Law Reports if you want to.
    The quote is NOT meaningless as it referred to parents in general(not one particular case) being prejudiced in the family courts and it is difficult therefore to argue against the corollary; that the courts are prejudiced against parents who have had their parents removed as that is clearly the meaning of L.J.Thorpe’s statement.
    As over 95% of applications for care orders are successful(Judicial and Court Statistics 2010
    http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/statistics/…/judicial-court-stats.pdf/)
    parent’s victories in the family courts are rare indeed …….This is because in accordance with Thorpe’s “dictum” the family court judge’s inevitably start from the premise that the testimony of social workers is to be preferred to that of parents when the two clash (as they inevitably do when parents ARE permitted by their lawyers to speak)
    Most interim care orders are granted after barristers “agree” not to oppose or agree to them That means 6 months more of cruel isolation of children from family and friends.(mobliles confiscated and conversations at the limited “contacts” allowed,strictly censored.Orwell’s nightmare finally coming to pass?

    • Yes, thank you I have read the Daily Mail report now and I hope you won’t mind me observing it is not quite a “law report” (sadly this case does not seem to be reported on BAILII or if it is I can’t find it – this may be because proceedings are ongoing). Leaving aside the numerous inaccuracies about how the system operates, that is of course an example of the appeal system quite properly rectifying a quite improper decision / process. It the system were rotten to the core and prejudiced as you suggest there would be no such successful appeals, and if the problem were rife or routine in lower courts only one would expect to see a good deal more. They are thankfully a rarity.
      That 95% of applications are successful is not in itself an indication of prejudice. It is consistent with it, but it is also consistent with the argument that 95% of applications are well founded – the statistic does not add weight to either perspective really.
      I don’t agree that courts invariable start from the premise that social work evidence is preferable to parents and I don’t think the news article you quote supports that.
      We’ve had this discussion before – barristers agree not to oppose on instructions and after advice is given. Your advice to parents as I recall is to ignore social workers, to sabotage adoptions and to trust noone. All tactics quite likely in my view to damage a parents case for retention or recovery of their children.

  5. I can empathise with your views on how work can influence your performance as a mother at home and make you doubtful you are always doing your best. Being a mother is role of guilt at the best of times without the demands of such a job. When your employment involves working with people affected by the issues you outline, it is so difficult not to take work home with you – or not to be at home when you probably should be.

    Many a late hour has been spent in the office making sure every ‘i’ has been dotted and every ‘t’ has been crossed so that I have felt sufficiently safe in the knowledge that I had actioned all I could to prevent any identifiable risks occurring involving my cases.

  6. It is L.J.Thorpe not I who admits the parents are “prejudiced” in the family courts .The 95% “strike rate” against parents compared with a 57% conviction rate on all reportable crime shttp://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/22/domestic-violence-conviction-rate-high
    shows just how prejudiced.Of course criminal cases are decided beyond reasonable doubt(or used to be) but parents in family courts can be branded “child abusers”(losing their children) on the balance of probabilities (51%)…..

  7. Dear Lucy,
    Family Justice Review (FJR): A serious flaw in the Children Act 1989.

    I have recently written the letter below to my MP. Having just joined your blog..I should be very interested to hear your views..you may not agree with me..that’s fine! And maybe to open a bit of debate.
    (opening para deleted as irrelevant here)
    This letter however is about something far more serious. I am writing to ascertain your support for the FJR in general and Option 1 of Shared Parenting in particular. Also to bring to your attention the flaw in the Children Act 1989. As you are aware, there has been an abundance of research over the last decade all of which points to the fact that children of divorce and separation have a far better life chance when both parents are fully involved in their upbringing.

    I went through a very acrimonious and damaging divorce myself, however despite this my children, all three of whom are now adults and successful in their jobs; spent a substantial amount of time with me. I now have a good relationship with each of them and I can bear testament to the fact that Shared Parenting- having two homes, does work.

    I could quote you any number of positive statistics from research into the change in the law to Shared Parenting in Australia in 2006, but let two suffice here: There has been a sharp fall in litigation over children since 2006 of 32% from May 06 to October 11 after many years of a steady increase. 81% of parents interviewed in 2009 agreed that the continuing full involvement of both parents following parental separation is beneficial. Now to the flaw:

    I have worked on the national Helpline of Families Need Fathers (FNF) for some eight years and therefore have extensive experience of a particular problem. The Act says: Children should have a relationship with both parents where it is safe to do so. This wording gives carte blanche to the Resident Parent (RP), usually the mother, to make false accusations of domestic violence (DV),intimidation or worse, child abuse, against the father. Inevitably all contact then stops while an investigation by CAFCASS and the Courts is carried out; this will take months; even if the father is completely exonerated as is often the case; mud sticks, the delay to re-starting contact has led to damage to the father/child relationship and even if restarted, it is usually in a contact centre, often under supervision and this is the worst possible place to start rebuilding what is by now a very tenuous and fragile relationship.

    I can assure you from my experience on the Helpline, that false accusations by the Resident Parent (RP) to achieve a no-contact situation with the father is widespread and often successful.

    At the moment therefore, the responsibility is all on the side of the accused non resident parent (NRP) to prove his innocence. This needs to be reversed so the burden of proof rests with the RP- the accuser, to prove that he is unsafe. Below I append the text of an earlier email to a colleague which encapsulates exactly the problem.

    Reverse the burden of proof from accused to accuser:
    There is one major flaw in the wording of the Childrens Act 1989 which must be addressed and reversed if there is to be any real change. If it is achieved, I firmly believe that the dynamics of each and every broken relationship will change and a lot of other good things will flow from it. It states that children should have a relationship with both parents where it is safe to do so. This appears reasonable at first glance; but it must be changed to ‘with both parents unless it is proven to be unsafe to do so.
    It is the wording of the first that allows the parent with care to make accusations that cause delay which results in thousands of Dads being cut out of their children’s lives. It is widely accepted that there is no penalty for lying in the family courts. An RP will frequently accuse a father of DV, sexual misdemeanours, intimidation, harassment etc in an attempt to prevent contact. Finding these allegations to be false takes typically 9 months of very limited (ie Contact Centre) or no contact and once these are dealt with, sometimes another lot are concocted. In any case ‘mud sticks’. The burden of proof for wrongdoing must be changed from the accused having to prove his innocence to the accuser (nearly always the parent with care, the RP) proving that contact is unsafe.(Added here: in other words there must be an assumption that Dad is safe..as he is in the vast majority of cases..unless the RP can come up with bone fide evidence that he is not..at the moment an accusation is quite enough to start the ‘DV industry’ rolling.)

    I shall be most interested to hear your views on the above and if you would like to investigate this matter further, I should be delighted to attend at one of your surgeries.

    Yours Sincerely

    • Thanks Anthony,
      You state that the Children Act says that “Children should have a relationship with both parents where it is safe to do so”. It does not say that. It merely says that the court must only make an order where that is better for the child than no order and that any order made must be in the best interests of children. I am slightly alarmed that
      You state that the Children Act should say that “Children should have a relationship with both parents unless it is proven unsafe to do so”. I disagree.
      you have been advising parents for 8 years on this topic and seem to have been operating under a misapprehension about what the law says.
      In practice the courts do work on the basis that, where safe, children should have a relationship with both parents – because it is generally accepted that it is in their best interests to have such a relationship unless there is a good reason.
      You suggest that the burden of proof should be reversed, but the burden of proof is already on the person making the allegation. The courts already do operate on the basis that harm (or risk of harm), for example through domestic violence, must be proved. If it is not proven the court operates on the basis that the harm has not occurred. What you are complaining about though I think is the fact that the courts (quite rightly in my view) make interim decisions that work on the basis that allegations of abuse or violence may be true, because that is the only way to ensure a child is safe – even though it does raise the risk of a child being harmed by being prevented for a time from having a relationship with a parent who has done nothing wrong. The system is not perfect, but treating parents as safe unless and until an allegation has been proven is likely to expose more children to greater risks than operating on the current basis. There is an urgent need for speeding up the process of fact finding and for constantly assessing whether or not allegations are in themselves sufficient to justify a cessation of contact even if true, but the problems arising from bogus or exaggerated allegations do not alter the level of risk that other children are exposed to.
      Lucy

  8. Hi Lucy, I have your book and found it very useful. I have been frustrated by delays and the length of time CAFCASS take to investigate matters. My ex stopped contact with my daughter because handovers were too upsetting for her. I went down the mediation route and it took 5 months of ex playing games and delaying tactics to arrange a joint appointment only for the ex to decide it wouldn’t work the week before. It took 6 weeks to get a court date only for a welfare report to be ordered because there were safety concerns as I had depression. This took 3 months. Back in court and there was no reason why contact should not take place so 12 hours of supervised contact was ordered. This took 6 weeks to arrange by CAFCASS. All in all, it had been a year since I had seen my daughter. First session went very well. Second session daughter was upset and didn’t want to see me. CAFCASS have said her view should be respected. She is 8. So a year down the line and things have got worse and I was safe to have my daughter all along. No repercussions for anyone involved for the delays. CAFCASS, magistrates, judges, baristers, and solicitors involved happily with there lives and on to the next case. And this is the system that doesn’t need changing????? There is something wrong somewhere. My daughter has lost her father due to the period of time contact was stopped.

    “I don’t know how you do it. It must be so depressing……..”

    • Hi Stu,
      Glad the book was useful. Sorry to hear about your experience. Very frustrating and depressing.
      Hope things improve. Don’t give up.
      Lucy

  9. Thanks Lucy. I’m over the depression and I haven’t given up. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. Its my children that need sympathy. They have lost there father. The more people I meet the more typical my situation is.

    Having been in the system for a while now, I firmly believe if the law was changed so that when parents separat,e the children have rights to see both parents from the day after separation, Dads or Mums or grandparents wouldn’t be in my position. I put anyone in my position to argue diferently. My children went from being wih me every day to not seeing me at all. Where is the justice in that?
    If I was a good enough Dad prior to separation why do I have to prove myself to people who have never met me or my children?
    But the whole court process is kept secret. To protect who? the children? I don’t think so.

  10. Lucy,
    How many times have i heard Stu’s story?..i have lost count of the many hundreds..and that’s just the ones I’ve heard of. It is sooo typical of our Family Justice system and you must in your heart of hearts know it. Delay and prevarication is endemic..the system is broken and not fit for purpose..that is why the Government ordered the Norgrove report and is now acting with the FJR…meanwhile, thousands of Dad’s just like Stu..perfectly good Dad’s while with their partners..suddenly become unreliable and get cut out of their children’s lives as soon as the relationship breaks down. Why Lucy…why? They are the same loving father to their children the day after the breakdown as the day before.
    I know plenty of cases of good fathers..decent men who could not stand the agony of being prevented from seeing and loving their kids..by the ex and by the system, who have taken their own lives because the pain was too much to bear. Why do you think Stu suffered from depression..one guess!
    I realise I am being selective (as i understand you have to work within the system and tow ‘the party line’) but you say (p143) ‘It is frustrating to be the only parent under the spotlight, but if you are asking for contact that is the way it is’. You are clearly talking to fathers here..ie ‘get over it’. Sorry Lucy..not good enough. You say (p150) talking to mothers: ‘A parent resisting a sole Res Order to her ex…is unlikely to find herself relegated to “a mere contact parent”. So that is what 90% of separated fathers are is it: ‘mere contact parents’? Serious gender bias here i fear.
    Unless and until the Family Court system is revolutionised to cut out delay and prevarication; fraudulent accusations become a criminal offence as in criminal law;(Which is the cause of the delay as everything stops while CAFCASS investigate) and there really are proper sanctions against the breaking of court orders (you know as well as i do that thus far sanctions are rarely if ever imposed (no staff to implement/lack of funds etc etc etc); I fear there will be many more ‘good enough’ loving fathers like Stu cut out of their children’s lives for no good reason.
    Please God that IDS, Tim Loughton and the others making the decisions on the FJR have the courage to go through with the changes that are being proposed and make Family Law in the UK fit for the 21st century because it sure ain’t now…we shall see….
    Anthony

    • Hi Anthony,
      As you rightly identify, you are being selective. One thing that is clearly said at the start of the book is that it isn’t a manifesto for change – that simply wasn’t it’s purpose. The purpose was to help parents do the best they can within the current system. Whilst a lot of what you say is right, I see many dads whose focus on the injustice and systemic flaws distracts them from taking basic practical steps to move things on and get better results. It is not about “getting over it” – its about prioritising your time and energy so that you can give yourself the best shot. It’s a pragmatic book not an ideological book. As for the “mere” contact parent, I was simply adopting terminology and perception that many parents have about the relative status of a residence / contact order – this of course is one reason why there are so many battles over shared residence and why the Government have just announced legislation ditching the terms residence and contact in favour of a more fluid child arrangements order. I don’t have to tow any party line. I’m a self employed sole practitioner. I say what I think (except when I’m representing a client and then I say what they think), although I’m aware that not everybody agrees with it. You’ll find my views about the flaws in and changes to the system on this blog, but not really in the book because that isn’t what the book was about.
      Lucy

  11. Yes Lucy, I’ve sent mine in today. Thanks for the reminder.

  12. Lucy,
    I totally take your point that your book is about negotiating the maze of Family Law as it is for the LIP and not about how we might wish it to be- and very good it is too. It was just that Stu’s heartfelt cry to you struck such a chord which i hear so much..together with the fact that i had just read the two quotes i gave; that it was irresistable to put them together into a rushed rant!
    Do you perhaps..and the courts..deal with so many public law cases where there are genuine concerns for childrens safety that the courts perceive all fathers to be potentially unsafe (approach with caution)? This leads to bias. Perhaps there needs to be a greater division in the Justice systems approach to public and private law cases. Sorry..no time to look up the stats..but the facts are that DV is almost equally gender divided..not more than 60/40 by most estimates and child abuse is committed largely by mothers or boyfriends (step-parents). Why is it therefore that the ‘spotlight’..as you say..is constantly on fathers as being inherently unsafe?..when mothers can bring whoever they wish into the home with their child and neither SS, Cafcass or the courts turn a hair? It makes no sense..as that is where the dangers lie.
    I go back to my previous point: There needs to be serious sanctions in the Family courts to counteract lying/fraudulent claims of abuse..together with a reversal of proof from the accused to the accuser. That is where the investigation starts that leads to all the delay. Sanctions would inevitably lead to a change of culture if the RP knew there were consequences. If the investigations dropped away dramatically..leaving only the genuine ones, a lot of the angst of fathers and the fathers movement would go away too.
    Children do indeed need both parents..far too many are being denied that in private law by trumped up accusations to prevent/slow down contact.
    Anthony

    • Hi Anthony, I understand.
      In answer to your question, I don’t think that care work leads to a perception that all dads are bad. Although there are lots of violent or risky dads in care proceedings very often (I would guesstimate at least half the time) the main or one of the main concerns is poor parenting by mother. So whilst I suppose care work may tend to colour ones thinking to perceive all parents as potentially unsafe I don’t think it would have any disproportionate impact or bias in terms of views about men versus women. There is a lot of DV perpetrated by women as well as men, although I think that the nature and aetiology of female perpetrated violence tends to be rather different – dv is gendered because its bound up with social values and gender roles.
      The spotlight is generally on fathers being potentially unsafe because they are most often the ones seeking an order from the court, usually a contact order. This is often met with allegations. Where mothers are in the same position they are in my experience just as likely to be met with similar kinds of allegations from the resident dad, and these are treated in the same way (although I would say that more often the allegations made by dads against mums who are not primary carers are allegations in relation to mental health or chronic substance abuse than physical violence). So, if you compare like with like, i.e. When women are in the same situation as you are describing of being the non-resident parent, they are treated in a similar way.
      As I’ve already noted there needs be no reversal of proof – the burden of proof already rests with the person making the accusation. It is quite important (and quite difficult) to strike the right balance between deterring malicious or tactical allegations and supporting a safe space for the raising of genuine safety issues. There are sanctions for parents found to have made malicious allegations, although I accept they may not always be effective and perhaps could be more frequently used.

  13. I think perhaps the worst thing in the care system is the way children in the 8-15 age group are treated when they are taken into “care” .Their mobile phones are confiscated and when applicable so are their laptops.They are isolated from their friends,parents,grandparents and even sometimes their siblings.No communication of any kind is permitted and when parents are finally allowed to visit in cold impersonal contact centres all conversation is strictly censored so that no mention can be made of the court case,why they are here and what chances they have of returning home.No complaint by children of sexual or physical abuse by foster families or social workers is allowed.No weeping and no excessive affection can be shown .Any breach of these and countless other rules in the “contact agreement “parents are obliged to sign, and contact will be stopped at once and sometimes for good .These children are treated worse than murderers and rapists in prison because those criminals at least are allowed to make phone calls and can discuss what they like with visitors whilst children who have done nothing wrong can do neither ! No wonder these unfortunate children wonder if they are evil or if they have done something terribly wicked.Only the scum of the earth would inflict such cruel indignities on innocent children.

    • Ian most of what you describe in terms of control of contact happens sometimes, and usually it is for good reason. In my experience complaints made by children of sexual or physical abuse by foster families is taken very seriously and often results in an immediate move whilst the allegations are investigated. Of course things may go wrong on occasion, but in my experience this is the normal reaction to an allegation by a child.
      Again, your comment doesn’t reflect on the reasons why it might be necessary to restrict contact, for example if a parent is saying things to a child which are upsetting or distressing or which are causing them behavioural or emotional difficulties.

  14. CAFCASS have an early intervention team. They were only interested in safeguarding issues. I insisted that the longer the delay in the children being able to see me, the worse it would get, and action to restore this relationship needed to be done straight away. It then took 14 weeks for CAFCASS to see me and the children for the welfare report (which said that there were no reasons for contact to be stopped) and a further 8 weeks for a supervised contact session to be arranged (to assess my abilities as a parent, which were reported after to be excellent and child focused). By then the damage had been done. The case was driven in court by those first telephone interviews. I firmly believe if more work was done intially instead of a 10 minute telephone call from CAFCASS then the delays would be eliminated. CAFCASS don’t consider a delay to be detrimental to the child’s welfare. CAFCASS have said that they no longer need to be involved. Case closed and happily on to the next one. One Dad surgically removed from his children’s lives.

    By the way, I am attending an open meeting in Leicester on Friday with Anthony Douglass CBE, Chief exec of CAFCASS and Keith Vaz MP for Leicester East to discuss family law or lack of it!

  15. Lucy I think you are a kind hearted person tring to convince yourself that contact centres are not too bad after all …..
    I must have talked to two or three thousand parents in the last few years and more than half have had dealings with contact centres.In every single case without any exceptions at all every child concerned has been isolated from family and friends . Conversations at contact centres have ALWAYS (not just sometimes)been censored .All parents have been forced to sign a contract in advance promising they will not discuss “the case”,entertain complaints from children about fosterers or social workers,say they want their children home, or display excessive emotion or affection.Such draconian measures often alienate children from parents because, as their pleas to come home are ignored they conclude their parents do not want them home .This I repeat smacks of Orwell’s worst nightmares and shames the British establishment that tolerates it .

    • Ian (Forced Adoption), Can you at least accept that your experience is not the only experience? As I have said, mine does not accord with yours. What you describe does not always happen.

  16. Lucy,
    Never having been involved in ‘care cases’ I am staggered at the figure of 50% being genuine violent cases and such a large number of poor parenting by mother. I don’t dispute it..you must know-but it must lead to a scewed perception of men surely? The problem is that in private law the vast majority of men are not like that:’most men’ or ordinary blokes like me..Accountants, Bank managers,firemen,soldiers, policemen,IT managers etc etc whose relationship has broken through no fault/boths fault and just want to be a good, loving Dad to their kids and the present system often prevents it. We really do need change; a different result for these men;- even if you and I have different views on the process of getting there.
    Anyway- I shall probably knock off for the time being although I’ve enjoyed the exchange of views and I shall continue to follow your blog and your book is to hand.
    I hope you have a good weekend with your intact family and away from the stress of your work.
    Best wishes
    Anthony

    • Anthony,
      I don’t think I said 50% of cases involve dv or that 50% of them are genuine. I’m not sure where you get that from. I said that in my experience I reckon at least half of the cases I see involve concerns about mum’s parenting. Many of these public law cases are multi-issue cases – there is often a co-occurence of domestic violence, drug abuse, mental health problems and poor parenting. They feed one another. You are right, the vast majority of parents are not like those who are involved in care proceedings (not that there is really a template for a parent involved in care proceedings, but you describe professionals and it is true to say there are few middle class parents caught up in such cases – although there are some).
      Sorry for delay in approving comment. Got caught up with busy week at work.
      Lucy

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