Family Law Hub

"Court plays a necessary role in adjudicating private child law disputes"

Conclusion published in new study on outcome of private s8 applications

  • Access to court in private child disputes should 'remain a viable option' for parents according to a recently published study.

    The study reviewed 197 County Court case files disposed of by final order in a six month period between February and August in 2011. Although a small sample the authors concluded that many of the issues could not be resolved out of court and the decision to apply for a court order was a necessary last resort where attempts had failed and the parties had reached an impasse. Instead:

    "There is a clear need for court adjudication in private child law cases and the vast majority of the cases examined could not have been successfully diverted to mediation. Only a small minority of our case files featured implacably hostile parents and repeated returns to court to argue the same points of contention. Instead, there were real issues to be decided, and the courts' pragmatic problem-solving approach included a realistic recognition that it could take time to find the best solutions for these families and leave them in a place where they could deal with future problems."

    The authors' other main conclusions, set out in Chapter 7 of the Report, were that  

    • there was no indication of gender bias in contested cases about where the child should live
    • contact was actively promoted as possible even in cases of proven domestic violence, welfare concerns or strong opposition from older children
    • a sizeable minority of private child care disputes involve non-parents such as grandparents or other relatives who were caring for the children
    The Report, written by Dr Maebh Harding from the University of Warwick and Dr Annika Newnham from the University of Reading was funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

News, published: 02/06/2015

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Published: 02/06/2015

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