Supervised, Supported and Indirect Contact Orders: Research Findings
Posted: 17 Jun 2008
Date Written: April 2007
Child contact with non-resident parents has become a key issue in family law and policy. Within the substantial and growing body of research into how legal systems deal with child contact disputes, there is little empirical data on the use courts make of orders for supervised, supported or indirect contact. This article presents empirical research findings focusing on the use of these sorts of contact orders in England and Wales. The research involved an examination of 343 court records, 60 follow-up interviews with parents and ten interviews with judges responsible for making the orders. Use of orders for supervised or supported contact was relatively common as a short-term measure, while orders for indirect contact were made only as a matter of last resort. On the basis of the post-court developments in contact within the families in the sample and the parents' largely negative experiences of the court system, we conclude that future policy developments ought to focus on finding alternatives to court, which would aim to provide assistance rather than adjudication to the families in dispute.
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