After years of research and reflection on the work of the interdisciplinary family justice system Mervyn Murch offers a fresh approach to supporting the thousands of children every year who experience a complex form of bereavement following parental separation and divorce. This stressful family change, combined with the loss of support due to austerity cuts, can damage their education, well-being, mental health and long-term life chances.
Murch argues for early preventative intervention which responds to children's worries when they first present them, without waiting until things have gone badly wrong. His radical proposals for reform involve a much more coordinated and joined up approach by schools, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
This book encourages practitioners and academics to look outside their professional silos and to see the world through the eyes of children in crisis to enable services to offer direct support in a manner and at a time when it is most needed.
“This book contains the wisdom of a professional lifetime spent integrating mental health and judicial concerns from a leading architect of the family justice system.” Christopher Clulow, PhD. Senior Fellow, the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology
“Distilling a lifetime’s work and reflection, this is an essential read for anyone concerned about the needs of children on family breakdown.” Gillian Douglas, Executive Dean, King’s College London
“At a time when the mental health of our young people is of national concern… This is an essential text that should inform policy and practice both in family law and education.” James Wetz, Author of 'Urban Village Schools'
Mervyn Murch CBE is an emeritus professor at Cardiff University's School of Law and Politics. His 45 year research career has focused on the inter-disciplinary work of the family justice system and has contributed to policy and practice developments and to law reform in divorce, adoption and child protection. He was appointed a CBE in 2007 for services to the family justice system.
Part I: Illuminating the field of policy
Some key background data
Setting out the stall
Numbers, scale and trends
Summarised research reviews upon which to promote social and emotional wellbeing in children of separated parents
Hearing the voice of the child: messages from research that expose gaps between theory, principle and reality
Part II: Primary prevention
Children dealing with the crisis of parental separation: towards new supportive practice and policy
Children in crisis speak out
The crisis model of preventive mental health and its potential application for support services for children coping with parental separation
The pros and cons of the preventive mental health approach
Providing short-term primary preventative crisis intervention for children in schools
Part III: Secondary prevention
Family justice policy under the Coalition government (2010–15): how will a new regime meet the needs of children with separating and divorcing parents?
The repeal of S41 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and related reforms: is the state turning a blind eye to the needs of children in divorce proceedings?
Demolition and reconstruction in the family justice regime: what can be salvaged for children whose parents separate and divorce?
Changing the culture of family justice: barriers to be overcome
Part IV: Embedding the crisis intervention approach
The future policy and practice challenge
Barriers obstructing a preventive mental health approach
Policy and practice proposals to support children and young people coping with interparental conflict and separation
Scanning the horizon