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Webinar: Separating families: Experiences of separation and support

During this webinar, new research findings on families’ experiences of separation and support will be presented and discussed. Join us for:

  • An introduction from Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division
  • Presentations from the University of Bristol research team, covering findings, reflections and recommendations
  • A panel discussion, with questions from the audience

Each year, many thousands of parents decide to end their relationship as a couple. Rising numbers of private law cases in the family justice system has prompted a renewed focus on how families that are separating might be supported, particularly out of court.

Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (Nuffield FJO) has been working to strengthen the evidence base around children and families’ experiences of separation and court proceedings, with the aim of supporting judges, lawyers, mediators, social workers and policy makers to have informed multidisciplinary discussions on how to better meet families’ needs.

This webinar, to be introduced by Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, and chaired by Lisa Harker, Director of Nuffield FJO, will cover new qualitative research recently published by Nuffield FJO and carried out by the University of Bristol.

Involving 42 family members (mothers, fathers and children) across the South West of England and Wales, the study explored the process of separation and how it was experienced by different family members; the challenges the families faced; and the support families received while going through separation, both in and out of court, and whether it was useful. The research will be presented by the University of Bristol team:

  • Dr Jon Symonds, Senior Lecturer in Social Work with Children and Families, School for Policy Studies
  • Professor Emma Hitchings, Law School
  • Dr Eleanor Staples, School for Policy Studies
  • Esther Dermott FAcSS, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Following the presentations, the researchers will take part in a panel discussion, and will answer questions from the audience. Please join us to find out more about this latest research.

Watch the webinar


  • Lisa Harker
    Director, Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
  • Jon Symonds
    University of Bristol
  • Eleanor Staples
    University of Bristol
  • Esther Dermott
    University of Bristol

With an introduction from Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division.