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Title: Assessing and addressing the nature of intractable contact disputes through a Delphi study
Author: McCord, John A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2699 8323
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2010
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Abstract. Empirical research has immeasurably improved our understanding of the complex matrices and intrigues that confront the family court when there is a contact dispute between parents. Indeed, extensive empirical research has been conducted since the 1980’s on the need for contact between children and both their parents and the nature of contact disputes between parents. Undoubtedly, this has served to identify and permit a more sophisticated understanding of the consequences and effects that contact disputes have on children, and has been utilized by the courts to better inform decisions in respect of contact proceedings. Notwithstanding this, the issue of contact remains problematic and recent debate and academic literature has highlighted the deficiencies in the family justice system when confronted with the ‘intractable’ contact dispute. Although recent years have witnessed a vast outpouring of learned and popular literature, it is notable that there is a dearth of pedagogic and related empirical rigour and intelligence into the inordinately complex phenomena of the ‘intractable’ contact dispute. This prompts the need to consolidate and develop our knowledge in this difficult area of family law. Accordingly, the thesis theoretically and empirically assesses intractable contact disputes. The research focuses on three core theses. Firstly, it explores the theoretical basis of intractable contact disputes by critically appraising the salient scholastic and related descriptive literature focusing on the explanations for contact disputes including how they are divided along gender lines. This is further consolidated through the application of a thematic analysis of the salient jurisprudence in this area and scrutiny of the key concepts that emerge. In light of this, the research subsequently develops a conceptual model and hierarchical framework of the ‘intractable’ contact dispute. Secondly, the thesis empirically examines the nature of intractable contact disputes by eliciting the views of a multi-disciplinary and eclectic group of professionals from within the family law arena in Northern Ireland. The research achieves this through the application of the ‘Delphi’ technique. Significantly, the collated empirical data identifies the prevalent features of these types of disputes through expert knowledge which permits the ranking of the salient variables which affect and explain these complex phenomena. The rankings are consolidated by further statistical analyses. Finally, the research findings are evaluated in the context of family proceedings and extant legislative instruments and statutory rules, in an attempt to identify and consider reforms to family law policy in Northern Ireland, including the appropriate interventions to be applied and conclusions to be offered by the research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available