UK Family Law Reform

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----- Original Message -----
From: dave.mortimer
To: general.queries@dca.gsi.gov.uk
Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2005 4:05 PM
Subject: Where is the proof that Judges are acting in the best interests of children?

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please will you kindly provide me with copies of the peer-reviewed research which clearly proves that sole residency is in the best interests of children (in the majority of cases where safety is not an issue) following separation or divorce given that it is the only logical way that you would actually be able to prove to me that judges are acting in the best interests of children when they award residence to just one parent.

Best regards
David Mortimer

----- Original Message -----
From: Information.PEU@dfes.gsi.gov.uk
To: dave.mortimer
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2005 2:10 PM
Subject: Where is the proof that Judges are acting in the best interests of children?

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your recent enquiry. I have spoken to our relevant contacts in the Department and have been informed that the issues you raise are a matter for Department for Constitutional Affairs and I am transferring your correspondence to them for a reply to you direct. If you wish to contact them, they can be contacted at the address below:

DCA
Selborne House
54-60 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QW,
Telephone: 0207 210 8500

general.queries@dca.gsi.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Lorna Stephens
Department for Education and Skills
Telephone 0870 000 2288
Fax 01928 79 4248
Text phone/Minicom 01928 79 4274

From: dave.mortimer
Sent: 17 November 2005 06:53
To: dfes.ministers@dfes.gsi.gov.uk
Subject: Where is the proof that Judges are acting in the best interests of children?

Dear Maria Eagle MP,

Please will you kindly provide me with copies of the peer-reviewed research which clearly proves that sole residency is in the best interests of children (in the majority of cases where safety is not an issue) following separation or divorce given that it is the only logical way that you would actually be able to prove to me that judges are acting in the best interests of children when they award residence to just one parent.

Best regards
David Mortimer

----- Original Message -----
From: Catherine.Dow@CAFCASS.GOV.UK
To: dave.mortimer
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2005 6:59 PM
Subject: Where is the proof that sole residency is in the best interests of children?

Dear Mr Mortimer

I apologise about the delay in responding to your enquiry. I have referred your query to our research co-ordinator and she has responded that she is not aware of research that proves sole residency is in the best interests of children after parental separation but equally there is no research she knows of to suggest that joint residency produces better outcomes. Children tend to do best where they are not the focus of conflict and where they feel their own views are taken into account irrespective of the formal or informal arrangements for care. She made reference to two articles which address the issue of research on shared residence: Bauserman R - Child Adjustment in Joint Custody versus Sole Custody Arrangements: A Meta-Analytic Review - Journal of Family Psychology (2002)

Bauserman's meta-analysis of 33 studies (many as he points out statistically flawed) suggests that children in joint physical or legal custody were better adjusted than those in sole custody. However he points out that cause and effect is not clear. In other words it may be that joint custody is the option for families where children are in any case better adjusted. He also says that where a parent is neglectful or abusive, or suffers from serious mental health or adjustment difficulties "a child may be harmed by continued exposure to such an environment." He also suggests that extremes of parental conflict may be detrimental to a child. Finally, the studies Bauserman reviewed were all from the US. We cannot be certain that the same results would be found in this country where the legal arrangements and social background are different.

Smart C, Neale B & Flowerdew J - Drifting towards shared residence? - Family Law Journal (2003)

Drifting towards shared residence reports on the findings from two research projects undertaken by the Centre for Research on Family, Kinship and Childhood at the University of Leeds. In the first study 117 children were interviewed in 1997-98, the majority aged between 7 and 14. In the second, 60 of the children who had been part of the original study were interviewed again in 2001. Some children were very content with shared residence but for others post-separation difficulties continued across many years. Arrangements were too inflexible and did not evolve as the children grew older. Parents used the children as pawns in the matrimonial conflict. Children did not feel that their needs and views were taken into account. The autors conclude that "The findings .... suggest that shared residence is not a magic solution to a difficult problem."

I hope this is helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further queries.
Regards
Catherine Dow
CAFCASS Communications

----- Original Message -----
From: J.A.Walker@newcastle.ac.uk
To: dave.mortimer
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2005 4:00 PM
Subject: Where is the proof that sole residency is in the best interests of children?

Dear Mr Mortimer,

I have just received your email which arrived while I was in the USA. I'm afraid that I do not know of any studies that 'prove' that sole residency is in the best interests of children after separation and divorce. All the research indicates that children generally do best if they can maintain a loving relationship with both parents and when parents are able to facilitate an ongoing relationship with each parent.

Yours sincerely,

Janet Walker

Professor Janet Walker
Director
Newcastle Centre for Family Studies
18 Windsor Terrace
University of Newcastle
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 7RU
UK
Tel: +44 (0)191 222 7644
Fax: +44 (0)191 222 7871
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/

----- Original Message -----
From: Bruce.Smyth@aifs.gov.au
To: dave.mortimer ; Carole.Jean@aifs.gov.au
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2005 7:39 AM
Subject: Where is the proof that sole residency is in the best interests of children?

Dear Dave,

Thanks for your inquiry. I'm not aware of any particular study that demonstrates this. I know Liz Trinder and Carol Smart, and follow Janet Walker's work. You might find two pieces of AIFS research helpful:

http://www.aifs.gov.au/institute/afrc9/smythb.html

Research Report #9 above reviews some of the international literature.

Good luck

Bruce

Research Fellow
AIFS

----- Original Message -----
From: Carol Smart C.C.Smart@leeds.ac.uk
To: dave.mortimer
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2005 7:43 PM
Subject: Where is the proof that sole residency is in the best interests of children?

Dear Dave

I don't know of any studies that prove this, peer reviewed or not. The situation facing children is so much more complex than this rather simple formulation allows for that, frankly, if I found such a study (or one that claims to prove that either sole or shared residence is in the best interests of 'all' children on divorce) I'd be very sceptical.

Sorry I can't be more helpful.

Carol

----- Original Message -----
From: kennedy@nfpi.org
To: anne.harris4@ntlworld.com
Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 12:45 PM
Subject: Family Law (Children)

Dear Anne

I checked with Mary, she thinks Cafcass have on their website a 3 monthly review of research studies; among researchers who have done work on contact are Liz Trinder at UEA, Prof Carol Smart at Leeds and Prof Janet Walker at Newcastle; it is always worth looking at the website of the Australian Institute of Family Studies for information on current international research. http://www.cafcass.gov.uk/

She hope this helps.
Best regards
Louise

From: anne.harris4@ntlworld.com
Sent: 03 May 2005 11:38
To: kennedy@nfpi.org
Subject: Family Law (Children)

Dear Louise,

Would you be kind enough once again to bring the hereunder e-mail to the attention of Mary MacLeod. Many thanks as always for your assistance.

Best Wishes,
Anne Harris.

FAO: Mary MacLeod,

National Family and Parenting Institute.

Dear Ms MacLeod,

If our Government does not believe it would be in the best interest of children to give both parents a legal presumption of contact after separation or divorce then the Government should be able to provide the peer reviewed studies which prove that sole residency is in the best interests of children after separation or divorce if there position is justifiable. Would you be able to inform us or enquire from your colleagues of where we can obtain copies of or links to the documented peer reviewed studies which clearly prove this?

Thank you in anticipation for your assistance in this matter.

Yours cordially,
Anne Harris, SNAP/MANKIND,
(National Coordinator - Coalition for Equal Parenting).

Join us in campaigning for equality and justice.

http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/ukfamilylawreform/