Domestic Violence Behind Nearly Half of Family Law Court Cases

Article excerpt

Byline: SHANE PHELAN

DOMESTIC violence accounts for almost half of all cases dealt with bythe Family Law courts, it emerged yesterday.

Almost 10,000 domestic violence cases were heard in total.

Another quarter of the 20,000 family law cases last year involved custodybattles over children.

The figures were detailed in a report called Family Law Matters, released bythe Courts Service.

And the large volume of family law cases coming before the courts isthreatening to overwhelm the system, claimed senior legal figures.

One judge quoted anonymously in the report said the high caseload meant that asmany as 70 different family law cases could be listed in a single court for thesame day.

This, said the judge, often means that cases have to be adjourned and many are'not given adequate time'.

'This is not a satisfactory service where the organisation of people's livesand the welfare of their children is at stake,' the judge added.

Judges were being put in a position where they could not give cases a longperiod for hearing, the judge said, leaving people feeling that hugelyimportant matters in their lives were not being respected and appreciated inthe court system.

Previously, information about family law cases was not made public. Thein-camera rule had meant that all family law proceedings were heard in private.

But legislation enacted three years ago, the Civil Liability and Courts Act,means that family cases can now be reported - provided the identities of thoseinvolved are not revealed. …