Making Policy for Divorced and Separated Families

From March 2008 to August 2009
Project Leader(s): Dr Liz Trinder
Staff: Dr Liz Dixon
Contact: Dr Liz Trinder
Sponsors: Nuffield Foundation

Making policy for separated or divorced families, particularly on issues of child contact and residence, has been challenging over the last decade. There has been  a lack of political consensus, prolonged conflict between competing interest groups often divided on gender lines, intense media scrutiny, a squeezing out of research evidence and a pervading sense of crisis. Implementation has also proved problematic with flagship policies foundering, including the Family Law Act 1996, Family Advice and Information Networks and the recent Family Resolutions Pilot. This project will take a systematic look at the policy-making process in this field, focusing specifically on private law contact. It will explore the reasons for some of the apparent policy failures as well as successes. The project will use a case study approach, including analysis of up to five recent policy initiatives, including the Children and Adoption Act 2006, the Private Law Programme (PLP) and the Family Resolutions Pilot. A focused review of the broader policy studies and evidence-based policy literature and individual and group interviews with key stakeholders (policy-makers, researchers, interest and cause groups) will provide additional context and insights.