Research

 

You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1,500 titles.

Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
 

Books: Research

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This chapter focuses on the interviews with relationship professionals working with or for separated parents and their children outside of the mediation context, outlining whether, in principle, they believed that young people ought to be given a voice in the decision-making when parents separate and the psychological, wellbeing and agency benefits (and risks) of doing so. It also explores their views on child-inclusive mediation’s role in giving young people a voice. Its analysis compares these views with those of young people in focus groups on these questions.

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The Right to Be Heard
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ePDF and ePUB available Open Access under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

Recent legislative changes in England and Wales have eroded children’s ability to exercise their article 12 UNCRC rights to information, consultation and representation when parents separate. However, children’s voices may be heard through child-inclusive mediation (CIM).

Considered from a children’s rights perspective, this book provides a critical socio-legal account of CIM practice. It draws on in-depth interviews with relationship professionals, mediators, parents and children, to consider the experiences, risks and benefits of CIM. It investigates obstacles to greater uptake of CIM and its role in improving children’s wellbeing and agency.

Exploring the culture and practice changes necessary for a more routine application of CIM, the book demonstrates how reconceptualising CIM through a children’s rights framework could help to address barriers and improve outcomes for children.

Open access
Authors: and

This chapter draws together the themes and arguments made in the preceding chapters to consider the conceptual, legal and practical changes needed to build a family justice system that has mediation at its centre but which is fully compliant with article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Its primary conclusion based on the Healthy Relationship Transitions study is that there are compelling arguments for moving towards a family justice system that fully respects children’s voices when parents separate in line with their article 12 rights, if only to improve their wellbeing and mental health. Whislt incorporation of the UNCRC into domestic law must be the long term goal, it considers how child-inclusive mediation can be used to change the culture to accept children’s rights and test how a system can in practice take children’s information, consultation and participation rights seriously, ensuring young people exercise appropriate agency. Alongside statutory and practice reforms, it concludes such a move towards a relational family approach can, in the short to medium term, achieve a rights balance between children and parents, not present within the prevailing parental autonomy discourse.

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This chapter explores how, despite the UK’s international obligations to afford young people mechanisms through which to express their views when parents separate, the lack of automatic rights for young people to be heard in mediation curtails their ability to exercise their article 12 rights and agency, creating an effective barrier to greater child-inclusive mediation (CIM) uptake. It explains how there is general unawareness that children have such rights and there are four further critical impediments to greater uptake: a lack of consensus on the purpose(s) of CIM; systemic barriers such as costs and lack of awareness of accessible information about the CIM process for parents and/or children; lack of practitioner confidence, in both the process and ability to deliver CIM well; and the gatekeeping roles of both mediators and then the parents, considering these impediments in turn.

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This chapter sets out our analysis and findings from the authors’ Healthy Relationship Transitions study concerning differences between mediators in how the CIM is conducted. It goes on to outline the views of the young people in the focus groups and interviews in the study on age restrictions on CIM. It then explores how satisfied young people (and parents) were with the process of CIM.

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Authors: and

This chapter sets out the aims for the book as a whole and its structure. It explains it will explore the law, theory and practice of family dispute resolution from a children’s rights perspective, with a particular focus on the value of child-inclusive mediation (CIM). It sets out how it draws on new empirical research where, for the first time, children who had experienced CIM were interviewed alongside their parents, mediators, other relationship professionals and wider groups of young people. It indicates that the book will examine this process through the lens of the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and suggests that a shift away from parental autonomy-driven mediation to a process underpinned by a relational family mediation approach, which includes children’s views directly, might begin to fulfil children’s international law rights, as examined in the subsequent chapters.

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This chapter sets out our findings regarding which families were able to resolve matters in child-inclusive mediation. It reflects on the extent to which the child’s views had been acted upon and informed agreements reached about child arrangements to consider whether Lundy’s fourth requirement of an article 12 compliant service for children whose parents separate, ‘influence’ (Lundy, 2007: 937), was met. It further discusses, then compares, young people and parents’ satisfaction with outcomes and the longer-term impact on the family and family relationships. For the minority dissatisfied with the outcome, it concludes by reflecting on what seemed to be driving their disappointment.

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This chapter analyzes the three types of religious wedding that are explicitly mentioned in the Marriage Act 1949: Anglican, Quaker, and Jewish weddings. It explains why these three types of wedding are accorded special treatment and the legal requirements that apply to them. It also shows how formal recognition brings its own constraints. It discusses how Anglican clergy have a duty to conduct the marriages of any persons who qualify to be married in their parish, regardless of the individuals’ beliefs, unless specifically exempted from doing so. It then shows how Quaker and Jewish weddings must take place within a certain authority structure and conform to their usages; in addition, Jewish weddings are only available where both parties are Jewish. Finally, it shows how the special treatment of these weddings exists despite the differences in how they are celebrated: there is no common core that differentiates them from other forms of wedding and justifies their special treatment.

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This chapter explores how weddings law in England and Wales – in contrast to the position in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland – currently makes no provision for non-religious belief organizations to conduct weddings. It shows that the law was originally intended to allow for the expression of non-religious beliefs: there was (and is) no requirement that a ceremony in a registered place of worship be conducted according to any religious rites, still less those of the group that registered the building. It also shows how the concept of ‘worship’ was previously broad enough to allow non-religious belief organizations to register their buildings. While that option has since been removed by the courts’ adoption of a narrower definition of worship, the number of non-legally binding ceremonies conducted by celebrants affiliated to Humanists UK (previously the British Humanist Association) has grown. The chapter discusses how ‘personalization’ is key to Humanist ceremonies, drawing on a case study from the Nuffield Foundation-funded project. It also explores the relationship between Humanist beliefs and the choice of a Humanist ceremony, as discussed by participants in the study, and the extent to which a Humanist ceremony may also include reference to religious beliefs.

Open access
The Evidence for Reforming Weddings Law

EPDF and EPUB available Open Access under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

In principle, couples getting married in England and Wales can choose to do so in a way that reflects their beliefs. In practice, the possibility of doing so varies considerably depending on the religious or non-religious beliefs they hold.

To demonstrate this divergence, this book draws on the accounts of 170 individuals who had, or led, a wedding ceremony outside the legal framework. The authors examine what these ceremonies can tell us about how couples want to marry, and what aspects of the current law preclude them from doing so.

This new evidence shows how the current law does not reflect social understandings of what makes a wedding meaningful. As recommended by the Law Commission, reform is urgently needed.

Open access