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The Australian National University

'The Research Says ...': Perceptions on the Use of Social Science Research in the Family Law System

Zoe Rathus (2018) 46 (1)

This article reports on a study which investigated the perceptions of professionals in the family law system about how social science research is used in that system in Australia. The results shed light on the daily practices of actors in the system regarding their use of social science research and demonstrate the ubiquitous presence of this research in the family law environment. The study involved a series of focus groups with lawyers and social scientists and gathered data about how the participants perceived various professions engaged with social science research. This revealed the actual world of family law practice, undiscoverable from the published cases. The data show how practitioners perceive that family law professionals, including judges, harness the research positively, but also expose a range of concerns, particularly about judges citing social science research in the courtroom. The article concludes with some steps that could be taken to clarify the way in which social science research could be used.

Vol 46, Issue 1, 2018

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