It is not unheard of for those who find themselves in acrimonious separation proceedings to find that their partner has made false or malicious criminal allegations against them, with a view to the manipulating and deploying any findings in the Family proceedings.
Unfortunately, criminal allegations do impact Family Law proceedings. The criminal allegations may create delay to the family matters, in some cases to await the outcome of the criminal investigation and/or proceedings. Alternatively, the criminal proceedings lead to parallel Family Law proceedings resulting in a fact-finding hearing. A fact-finding hearing is effectively a trial within the family court, in order to adjudicate upon which criminal allegations are founded and proven. The key distinction as to which court adjudicates upon the criminal allegations is the burden of proof to prove guilt. The burden of proof is the obligation to offer evidence that the court or jury could reasonably believe, in support of a contention, failing which the case will be lost. In criminal cases the burden of proof is a high one, namely that the adjudicating tribunal must be ‘sure’, whereas the burden is lower in the family courts, namely the facts contented must be proved on the ‘balance of probabilities.
For those accused of any form of criminal allegation whilst they have parallel family proceedings ongoing, this creates a genuine concern about the outcome of their respective cases. By way of example, you could be no further actioned or acquitted (dependent upon what stage the criminal proceedings reach) of the criminal allegations but be found guilty on the same facts within family proceedings.
It is obvious that any finding of criminal acts will then be deployed by the opposing side, in family proceedings to dictate your risk regards contact with children or against your partner in order to influence the decision-making process of the family court as well as the timescales with regard to resolving such disputes.
It is imperative that if you find yourself in this position, that you seek legal advice from both an experienced Criminal Solicitor and a Family Law Solicitor as soon as practicable. Seeking the advice of experienced solicitors at the outset, in particular Pre-Charge, could substantially change the outcome of both sets of proceedings.
Should you find yourself in this predicament our experienced team at Garrick Law can assist you on both aspects of your case.