‘So presumably things have moved on since then?’ The management of risk allegations in child contact mediation.
International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family
Oxford University Press
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 fi ndings 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 fi nd 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 specifi city 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.
Data originally collected as part of a Lord Chancellor’s Department funded project. The analysis of the data was supported by Economic and Social Research Council grant RES-000-22-2646
Author's draft version. Copyright © Oxford University Press. Final version available online at http://www.oxfordjournals.org/
Int J Law Policy Family (2010) 24 (1): 29-53
Place of publication