Mother whose abusive ex-partner broke her hand leads campaign to change law over access to children

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Published Time: 12.05.2024 - 09:41:46 Modified Time: 12.05.2024 - 09:41:46

Under the current law, there is no blanket ban on an abusive adult having contact with their children, but campaigners want that to change

Under the current law, there is no blanket ban on an abusive adult having contact with their children, but campaigners want that to change.

By Sabah Choudhry, news correspondent

Sunday 12 May 2024 06:49, UK

When Michelle's ex-partner broke her handshe knew enough was enough.

A line had been crossed. The abuse was emotional, coercive, and now physical. Her, and their child's safety, was now compromised.

Fearful, Michellenot her real namedecided that any father-child contact should be supervised.

Michelle's ex-partner, however, wanted unsupervised contact with their child. He pushed backand what followed was four years of court proceedings.

Michelle, and other campaigners like her, are calling on the government to end the presumption of contact between parents and their children.

On Monday, they will present a report to the government with recommendations to change the law.

Their main demand? To make parental contact earnedand not simply handed to abusers.

Currently, under British law, there is no blanket ban on an abusive adult having contact with their children.

According to the Children Act of 1989, there is a presumption of contact between parent and child when adults separateto benefit the child.

However, according to Michelle, this isn't always the case.

"The court system," she told Sky News, "was as abusive as my ex-partner. It had an agenda to promote unsupervised contact at any cost, despite my medical and police evidence of harm."

"It felt to me, I was living in Victorian times, that my child belonged to my partner, and that I had to do what he wanted.

"It's a very misogynistic system... that it doesn't matter what the circumstances arechildren will always have contact with their fathers.

"But it shouldn't be at any cost..."

'No parent is better than an abusive parent'

Dr Charlotte Proudman is leading the campaign.

The barrister and founder of the non-profit organisation Right to Equality told Sky News: "In my view, no parent is better than an abusive parent.

"Even if a parent is a rapist, a child sex offender, has been abusive, there is a presumption that they should have regular contact with their child, which can mean, in some instances, that a child is having unsafe contact with a dangerous parent.

"To argue against that can cost huge amounts of money and take a significant amount of time, even years."

'I shouldn't be the exception… this should be standard'

This is something Conservative MP Kate Kniveton knows too well.

She told Sky News that she suffered 10 years of abuse from her ex-husbanda former MP.

The family court made findings of rape and sexual abuse, which he denies.

Ms Kniverton won a landmark case against her former partner, which now means he is barred from direct contact with their child.

Therefore, she supports the recommendations to change the law, in order to protect both women and children.

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She said: "The result we got with my child was great... my child is .

"But I shouldn't be the exception…This should be standard in so many cases.

"You hear that contact has been ordered even with the most abuse of power.

"It is so important that the government listen to this and they overturn that presumption to protect children."

As of Friday, the government announced that paedophile rapists will have their rights to contact their own children automatically removed.

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But this current campaign wants an end to the assumption that parents can contact their children even when they are guilty of domestic abuse, sexual abuse or child abuse.

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