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Family Justice

The family justice system is the legal machinery which applies to the regulation of disputes concerning the family or between members of the family and the state. It encompasses both the court system and wider out-of-court ‘dispute resolution’ services such as lawyer negotiation, mediation and the provision of advice.

It may be divided into two broad domains

  • ‘private family law’ – which is concerned with how the law determines the status, finances and property allocation and child caring arrangements of families, both when relationships are formed and when they are ended, such as in cases of divorce or cohabitation breakdown
  • ‘public family law’ – which covers situations when the state intervenes directly to protect vulnerable family members, such as in cases of child neglect or abuse

Members of the network have undertaken a wide variety of studies examining how the family justice system works in practice and, in particular, how those who make use of it evaluate their experience, both positive and negative. A number of research projects within the network have focused on litigants in person (LIP)’s access to family justice following the changes to availability of legal aid introduced by The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. A particular focus of the network has been vulnerability and what response has been offered to safety concerns in and out of court.  

Network members’ projects on family justice