Working with the most vulnerable in our communities means that as family lawyers we need to be extra sensitive to the support they may need during the family law process. Perhaps someone has a mental impairment that affects an ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities or protective characteristic such as learning disability, mobility concerns and diminished mental capacity amongst others.
Where a person might need extra support to fully participate at court proceedings you can apply for reasonable adjustments so that there is a fair trial.
When applying for reasonable adjustments the court has a duty to think about three requirements.
The first requirement is, where a provision, criterion or practice puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled, then steps should be taken as is reasonable to avoid the disadvantage.
The second is where a physical feature puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation in comparison with persons who are not disabled, reasonable steps should be taken to avoid the disadvantage.
The third requirement is where a disabled person would, but for the provision of an auxiliary aid, be put at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled, then reasonable steps should be taken to provide the auxiliary aid.
The court must also have regard to:
- the impact of any actual or perceived intimidation (by any other party, witness, family member or associates)
- whether the party or witness suffers from a mental disorder or has a significant impairment of intelligence or social functioning, has a physical disability or physical disorder or is undergoing medical treatment
- the issues arising in the proceedings including any concerns arising in relation to abuse
- whether a matter is contentious
- the age, maturity and understanding of the party or witness
- the social and cultural background and ethnic origins of the party or witness
- the domestic circumstances and religious beliefs of the party or witness
- any characteristic of the party or witness which is relevant to the participation direction which may be made
- whether any measure is available to the court and the costs of such measures
Our legal teams have experience of helping ensure that these reasonable adjustments are put in place so that our clients can fully participate fairly in the family law process.
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