The Government definition of domestic abuse is:
"Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality".
Domestic abuse has a serious impact on the health, safety and well-being of any adults or children who experience it. It happens throughout society. According to the NSPCC around 1 in 5 children have been exposed to domestic abuse. It's unfortunately prevalent and is also under reported.
Separation and divorce is likely to be difficult at the best of times. Our commitment as a family team is to work with you to find the best approach to sorting out the consequences. We always hope that we can find a way to minimise conflict, but whatever approach is chosen we have to be sure that it can be followed safely. Some forms of emotional or financial abuse may not be obvious even to the people experiencing it. Whether we're acting as advisers or mediators that's why we screen for domestic abuse in every case. It's an essential part of deciding with you how best to help you.
However you go about dealing with the consequences of a relationship breakdown you need to have a safe environment to discuss options and possible ways forward. Domestic abuse has a fundamental impact on this. If you are in physical danger it may be necessary for immediate protective measures to be taken involving the police or an application to court to remove an abusive partner from the home. In other cases it might mean that it isn't possible or appropriate for your case to be dealt with through mediation or collaborative practice.
Controlling and coercive behaviour, emotional or financial, can undermine confidence and self-esteem and leave you vulnerable when dealing with issues relating to your children or the division of assets in a divorce. The impact on children of witnessing domestic abuse is a factor that the law specifically requires a court to take into account when considering the arrangements for where they live and the time they spend with each parent after separation.
The presence of domestic abuse doesn't mean that things can't be sorted out. Whatever your situation and concerns we're there to support you and ensure you find the best way through what you're facing.