The last ten years have seen a growth in the knowledge base around children's need for safe, stable and secure environments.
There is a deepening understanding of the harm and damage that occurs when safety and security are compromised, and children are exposed to threats and fear. Yet, responses to families experiencing violence and abuse have not always kept pace with these advances in research.
The laws, systems and services with which families engage can fail to provide or support the factors necessary to enable children to thrive. They may instead undermine the work of protective and safe parents who are attempting to create such environments. At their worst, bureaucratic and legal interventions can become the catalysts that lead to increased or ongoing harm or trauma.
It is in the interests of all practitioners and professionals whose work has an impact on families, therefore, to ensure that they do not exacerbate the damage faced by children exposed to violence, instead that their work supports the circumstances that enable children to heal, thrive and grow.
This Research into Practice Brief considers how practitioners can use the evidence base to better understand and improve the experiences of children and their protective parents when they engage with family law systems, post-separation from the abuser. The paper aims to provide discussion points and practice reflections for family law sector professionals working at the intersection of these two fields, and to better equip domestic violence sector workers to engage with this sector around their shared concerns.