In a perfect or even an imperfect world, it should be feasible that every important decision relating to a child should be made with the agreement of both parents.
During and after separation such decisions can become difficult to agree upon. However there is potential for issues to be resolved through a variety of options such as:-
An agreement through a parenting plan
In cases of domestic abuse and coercive control then the above options will not be feasible; just, effective or appropriate and therefore issuing court proceedings is the only option open to a parent.
Research indicates that abusers will utilise the family courts to perpetrate on-going abuse and coercive control over survivors and children. There is a great deal of change needed within the systems and culture of court proceedings in order for women who have experienced abuse to receive a just and fair hearing, as outlined in the case of Re H-N and Others (Children) (domestic abuse: findings of fact hearings)  EWCA Civ 448.
This judgement sets out guidance on matters relevant to the court process when considering domestic abuse and fact-finding hearings. Here the whole idea that a Scott Schedule – a rigid and ineffective tool in outlining/evidencing coercive abuse – should be reconsidered and other narrative options available to survivors in order for them to fully evidence abuse. This is still a work in progress!!!!!!!
When considering the child’s welfare then the courts must consider a range of factors known as the Welfare Checklist:
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned considered in the light of his or her age and understanding.
- His or her physical, emotional and educational needs.
- The likely effect on him or her of any change in circumstances.
- His or her age, sex, background and any characteristics which the court considers relevant.
- Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering including violence and, for example, impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another child or parent.
- How capable each of the parents and any other person in relation to who the court considers the question to be relevant, is, of meeting the child’s needs.