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Children: Mental Health

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 22 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the effects of implementation of section 120 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 on the care and supervision of children who have suffered impairment as a result of witnessing domestic violence. (188951)

For private law child proceedings when parents come to court for an order to determine the child's primary residence or the frequency of contact with a non-resident parent, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) introduced a new process in 2005. This means that when making an application for a child contact/residence order, allegations of domestic violence are expected to be raised at the point of the application. Courts are now required to consider whether any incidents of domestic violence—not just from direct violence but also witnessing violence—have had an adverse impact on the child, or might affect the child in the future.

An evaluation of this new system was commissioned by the MOJ. The report, ‘Domestic Violence and the Supplemental Information Form C1A: evaluation of the use and effects of the introduction of the form into the Family Courts’ was published on 11 December 2007 [MoJ 17/07]. It confirmed that the new arrangements are providing an improved mechanism that enables domestic violence and associated harm to parents and children to be recognised at an early point in proceedings.

In public law child proceedings where local authorities apply for care or supervision orders, domestic violence concerns are a feature of about 50 per cent. of cases, though there is usually a range of other concerns, such as child abuse and alcohol or substance misuse.