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Children’s experience of private law proceedings: Six key messages from research

Authors & Organisations
Alice Roe: Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
Alice Roe
Nuffield Family Justice Observatory


The family court has a role in resolving disputes between separating parents over child arrangements—known as private law. More than twice as many private law applications are started in England and Wales each year than public law applications. Yet little is known about the children and families involved in them.

We reviewed UK and international research studies from the last 20 years (2000–2020) that directly obtained children’s and young people’s thoughts on parental separation and/or their experience of court proceedings. 

Despite limitations within the research, the paper clearly indicates that children are actively – not passively – involved in their parents’ separation and court proceedings.

This paper distills the six key findings across the studies.