Increase the standard of proof within family law cases where child abuse is alleged

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Samantha Baldwin
Samantha Baldwin signed this petition

The Family Court make their findings using the civil law ‘balance of probabilities’. This means that the judge only has to decide that, in their opinion, something ‘probably happened’ or is 'more likely than not' to have happened, in order for potentially devastating findings to be made.

It is an extremely crude measure and one which is decided upon by only one judge.

Something desperately needs to change.

The Family Court are consistently failing children who have made allegations of abuse against a parent. In far too many cases the innocent parent is accused of coaching the children into making up the allegations and has false findings made against them resulting in every loving parent’s nightmare: their precious children being removed from their care and often placed in the sole care of an abusive parent.

This law is being completely mis-used and misapplied by judges and family court appointed representatives and experts.

In criminal law the standard applied is ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’, which is a much higher standard than the civil ‘balance of probabilities’. Although the penalties appear to be much higher within criminal courts (potentially resulting in a custodial sentence), arguably they are not. In family court you can lose your children. Undoubtedly, most parents would rather have a prison sentence than lose their children.

An alternative to the current standard:

In the USA there are three standards applied;

a) beyond reasonable doubt

b) civil balance of probabilities 

c) clear and convincing evidence

The additional standard 'clear and convincing evidence', requires that it is highly and substantially more probable than not that the evidence presented by a party during the trial is true.

Due to the severity in nature of cases where child abuse is alleged, the third standard ‘clear and convincing evidence’ needs to be applied to prevent potentially catastrophic, life-changing decisions being made simply on a ‘balance of probabilities’, and often with the judge having no evidence whatsoever to quantify such decisions.

You are therefore urged to sign this petition to support this campaign.

www.samanthabaldwin.co.uk