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Network members are interested in the role of law and policy in protecting children and vulnerable members of the family. Not all families are able to care for and socialise their children, and some children are subject to neglect and abuse at the hands of their parents. Adults may also be threatened with or experience intimidation and violence within their families.

  • When and how should the state intervene to protect children and vulnerable adults?   
  • What is the right balance between protection and respect for family autonomy?
  • How can parents living in adverse circumstances be assisted and supported to bring up their children?
  • Where do the boundaries lie between the courts and welfare agencies in deciding on plans for the future of children who are in state care?   
  • How can the law protect adults and children from the effects of domestic violence and abuse?
  • How will welfare be protected as more family cases are diverted from courts into mediation?

Special Issue on ‘New Families; New Governance: Voices heard and unheard, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, Volume 36, Issue 4, 2014: 355-437.

Julie Doughty

Emma Hitchings

  • 2006 ‘A Consequence of Blurring the Boundaries – Less Choice for the Victims of Domestic Violence’ 5 Social Policy and Society 91-101

Liz Trinder

  • 2010 with A Firth & C Jenks ‘So presumably things have moved on since then?’  The management of risk allegations in child contact mediation. 24 International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 29-53.

Abstract: Over the past decade, considerable efforts have been made to ensure that domestic violence and child protection issues are identifi ed, assessed, and managed appropriately within the family justice system. These efforts follow sustained criticism that allegations of harm have been previously overlooked or marginalized within court processes, including in private law cases concerning residence and contact disputes following parental separation. In this article, however, we argue that allegations of harm continue to be marginalised in court-based dispute resolution. Our findings are based on a detailed study of 15 in-court conciliation or court-based dispute resolution sessions. We use conversation analysis to examine in detail precisely how allegations are overlooked or downgraded. We find that conciliators routinely ignore, reframe, or reject allegations unless there is an existing external evidence to support the claim. However, the precise way in which marginalisation occurs is contextual and interactional, shaped not least by the specificity or persistence of allegations presented by parents. We suggest that the conciliator’s handling of allegations refl ects a particular understanding of their institutional role and tasks that centre upon settlement, contact, and case processing seemingly at the expense of risk management.

Evaluation of the Alternative Commissioning of Expert Witnesses in Care Proceedings Pilot (Legal Services Commission)