Decision-making in the child's best interests : legal and psychological views of a child's best interests on parental separation
The thesis presented and discussed here concerns the law relating to the decisions made concerning children when their parents separate using the legal process. It is divided into four parts, which consider four separate issues in that -legal response. There is an introduction which places the work in a broad academic context First, The Law Relating to Separation and Children discusses the statutory regulation of the process of making decisions about children of separating parents. It then discusses the body of case law which has developed to attempt to interpret the statutory requirement of the paramountcy of the child's best interests. The Children Act 1989 is considered in this part. Secondly, The Institution of Separation Law seeks to identify the professionals who work in this area of -the law. Further, in this part of the work, the theoretical and philosophical positions of the professionals are discussed, especially in the context of the critical literature published in this area. A major theme of this section is the change in the practice of this area of law from an adversarial model to the negotiated settlement, or mediation model. Thirdly, The Practice of Separation Law is a presentation and discussion of the findings of an empirical study undertaken to establish the nature of the practice of the professionals in this area. The empirical study also sought to ascertain whether the- professionals adopt any definition of the statutory phrase "the child's best interests", and the theoretical basis of that definition. Finally, The Psychology of Separation Law explores the discipline of psychology, to consider first, the effects of separation on children, secondly, a theoretical understanding of "the child's best interests", and thirdly, the implications on the legal process relating to the parents.