Photo of Professor Liz Trinder

Professor Liz Trinder

Professor of Socio-legal Studies


01392 723375

Amory 104G

Liz Trinder joined the Law School at Exeter in September 2009 as a new Professor of Socio-Legal Studies. Previously she was a Reader in Family Studies at Newcastle University and a Senior lecturer in Social Research at the University of East Anglia.

Her areas of interest are in family law and policy and (empirical) socio-legal research.

She is currently leading three research projects on:

  • Finding Fault - a major study of the current ground for divorce in England and Wales (funded by the Nuffield Foundation). Website here
  • Enforcement of contact orders (funded by the Nuffield Foundation) - final report now available here 
  • Litigants in person in private family law cases (for the Ministry of Justice) - final report and summary now available


Research group links

Research interests

Liz is a socio-legal scholar working in the fields of family studies and family law and policy. Her research on post-separation parenting informed judicial training by the Judicial Studies Board in 2011. 

Recent studies are:

1. Finding fault (October 2015-): a major new Nuffield Foundation funded study exploring the current ground for divorce and civil partnership dissolution in England and Wales. The project includes a national survey of public opinions on the current law, a qualitative study of 75 cases tracked over the course of 12 months to explore the process and experience of the petitioning process and a court file analysis and observations to examine the scrutiny process. Further details and latest news about the project is available here.

2. The enforcement of contact orders (2012/13): with Joan Hunt, Alison Macleod, Julia Pearce and Hilary Woodward, funded by the Nuffield Foundation. A briefing paper summarizing the findings was published in July 2013. The full report was published in December 2013. The briefing and final report are available on the Nuffield Foundation project page.

3. Litigants in person in private family law cases, funded by Ministry of Justice, December 2012-September 2013. Project with Kay Bader (Exeter), Victoria Hinchly (Exeter), Emma Hitchings (Bristol), Rosemary Hunter (Kent), Jo Miles (Cambridge), Richard Moorhead (UCL), Julia Pearce (Exeter), Mark Sefton, Leanne Smith (Cardiff). The research was commissioned by the Analytical Services section of the Ministry of Justice in November 2012 to understand (a) the range or types of litigants in person, (b) their behavioural drivers and support needs and (c) their impact on the court system prior to legal aid reforms, to aid in mitigating against some of the issues that may arise post reform and in assessing the impacts of reform. The fieldwork took place in early 2013 and included observation of 151 hearings, case file analysis and interviews and focus groups with parties and professionals. An Overview report and a Thematic report setting out the main findings were submitted to the Ministry of Justice in early September 2013. The final report was published in November 2014. A summary prepared by the research team is available here.

4. An evaluation of PIP Plus, funded by Cafcass/Department for Education (2012-14) Liz Trinder (Exeter, Principal investigator), Caroline Bryson and Susan Purdon (BPSR), Lester Coleman, Catherine Houlston and Mariya Stoilova (One Plus One), TNS-BMRB, Janet Reibstein (Exeter), Leanne Smith (Cardiff). PIP Plus is a pilot intervention for separated parents litigating over child contact and residence. The design was informed by the 2011 evaluation of the Separated Parent Information Programme by Trinder et al The current evaluation will compare the case pathways and outcomes of 250 parents attending PIP Plus between October 2012 and April 2013 with the 300 PIP and 300 non-PIP parents from the 2011 evaluation. Data collection involves a telephone survey of parents, focus groups with providers and qualitative interviews with parents. The final report will be submitted in early 2014

Modules taught