On Monday 24 Oct we held an evening to learn about the Workings of the Family Court. Our Violence Against Women Programme Team, led by Club President Denise Powell (pictured here centre) arranged for Peter Spencer JP (pictured here right) and Gladys Cummings JP (pictured here left), long standing and highly experienced Lay Judges in the Family Court, to take us through the evening. Judging by the very lively question and answer sessions, the attendees found this to be a thoroughly absorbing subject which threw light on the hard work that Family Justices do to protect children to the best of their ability.
With growing numbers of relationships breaking down, the Family Court has an increasing workload ensuring that arrangements are put in place for child placement and parental access etc, with the welfare of the children as the item of paramount importance.
These cases often (but not exclusively) have an element of Domestic Abuse contained within them as has featured in some high profile newspaper reports in recent times. These hearings are private and by law there is no press attendance so they are felt to be shrouded in mystery. The Violence against Women team took advantage of Denise’s recent appointment to the Family Bench to host a meeting where the workings of the Family Court were explained by 2 highly experienced Family Justices, Gladys Cummings JP and Peter Spencer JP.
After setting the scene. Gladys and Peter explained first about Private cases, usually brought by one of the parents where they parents are failing to agree on where children should live, how often they should see non-resident parents and so on. They then talked about Public cases, where the local authority have concerns about the safety of children and ask the courts to make suitable orders for the protection of the children.
This was indeed an enlightening evening for everyone!