Press Release

26 June 2020

Refuge responds to announcement of ‘major overhaul’ to the family courts

Responding to the announcement of a ‘major overhaul’ to the family courts, Ellie Butt, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Refuge said:

“Refuge welcomes the Government’s announcement today to overhaul the family courts to better protect victims of domestic abuse.

Failings by the family courts are regularly cited to Refuge by women who have experienced domestic abuse and many of the women we support around the country have been re traumatised when accessing the family courts.

Sweeping reforms are necessary – but the changes should go further. Refuge is pleased to have fed into the Government’s Family Courts Review, and amplified the demands of the thousands of women we support every day.

It is especially welcome to see the ‘special protections’ being applied to victims in court. Survivors of domestic abuse must be protected from their perpetrators in court and these measures will go some way to reducing the trauma experienced by survivors going through the family courts system.

Barring orders which would make it more difficult for perpetrators to drag their victims back through courts are also welcome and long overdue. Perpetrators often seek to continue abusing their victims by putting them through seemingly endless court proceedings. This is a common tool of economic abuse, which can have a lasting impact on survivors.

Refuge is also pleased that the Government is launching a review into the presumption of ‘parental involvement’ always being a positive for the children who witness and experience domestic abuse. We have long called for this presumption to be overturned and while a review is welcome, we hope it will be concluded swiftly so the necessary changes can be implemented without further delay. We stand ready to work with the Government to ensure these changes make a real impact to the lives of the women and children Refuge supports.”

For more information please contact the press office on 0207 395 7731 or email