Family Law Fact-Finding: Analysis of Allegations & Witness Credibility in TJ v RC & Anor [2023] EWFC 189

Citation: [2023] EWFC 189
Judgment on


The case of TJ v RC & Anor: EWFC 2023 189 [2023] EWFC 189 presents a nuanced exploration of fact-finding in family law, focusing on allegations of abuse and the complex dynamics of a disputing family. Mrs. Justice Judd presided over the case, providing a judgment that navigates the intricacies of witness credibility, the reliability of children’s statements, and the psychological impact of hostile parental relationships on child welfare proceedings.

Key Facts

The case involves TJ (the applicant) and RC (the first respondent), in a dispute concerning their 6-year-old son, RR. The family court had to revisit the case following a history of acrimonious separation, allegations of abuse, and concerns over the father’s mental health. Multiple allegations have been made against both parents, leading to this fact-finding hearing. The proceedings have seen allegations of physical and sexual abuse, threats to kill, and instances of harassment, all requiring thorough judicial scrutiny.

Several critical legal principles underpin the judgment, including:

  1. Burden and Standard of Proof: The judgment reinforces that the burden of proof lies with the individual making the allegation, and the standard of proof in civil cases is on the balance of probabilities.

  2. Fact-Based Findings: Mrs. Justice Judd highlights the need for findings of fact to be based on evidence rather than speculation or suspicion, and the importance of considering the entirety of evidence rather than assessing it in compartments.

  3. Witness Credibility: The credibility of the witnesses plays a crucial role in the court’s determination. Justice Judd cites Lancashire County Council v C, M and F (Children; Fact Finding Hearing) [2014] EWFC 3, cautioning against confirmation bias where an individual places undue weight on evidence that confirms their preconceptions.

  4. Evidence of Children: The case discusses the necessity for extreme caution when considering the reliability of children’s recollections and statements. Referring to Re P (Sexual Abuse – Finding of Fact Hearing) [2019] EWFC 27, Justice Judd highlights the susceptibility of children’s testimony to suggestibility, contamination, and interviewer bias.

  5. Parental Influence: In line with previous rulings, the influence of parental hostility and anxiety on a child’s statements and well-being is emphasized, warning against the potential for parental emotions and conflict to color a child’s perception and recounting of events.


Upon review of the evidence and application of the aforementioned legal principles, Mrs. Justice Judd dismissed the majority of the allegations made by both parents, citing a lack of conclusive evidence and highlighting the impact of inter-parental conflict on the child’s statements.

Notably, Mrs. Justice Judd found the father responsible for disclosing aspects of the parental dispute to RR, which contributed to the anxieties held by the mother and the wider maternal family. However, no findings were made about purported parental alienation or malicious intent on the mother’s part.


The judgment deliberated in TJ v RC & Anor stands as a testament to the complexities inherent in family law, particularly in cases involving children’s welfare and acrimonious separations. Mrs. Justice Judd applied established legal principles with care, ensuring a careful balance between evaluating the evidence provided and considering the psychological milieu in which the allegations arose.

The outcome underscores the judiciary’s commitment to a holistic analysis of cases involving child welfare, where the child’s interests remain paramount amidst allegations of abuse. The judgment also serves as a reminder to legal practitioners that allegations, particularly those involving children, require careful scrutiny, empathy, and an understanding of the dynamics at play in conflicted family environments.