We are here to celebrate 25 years since the first publication of what became the Child and Family Law Quarterly. This rich and varied collection of articles raises the question: how much has changed in family law over those 25 years?
Sir Mark Hedley points out that, decades after the tragic death of Maria Colwell first hit the headlines, we are still having child protection failures and scandals, often in families which are already well-known to the authorities. He argues that some mistakes are inevitable, because of the inherent difficulty of the subject matter. We have to rely upon and trust families to bring up their children. But in a society where there are no longer universally shared values (if indeed there ever were), it is difficult to draw the line between less than perfect families and actively harmful ones. The judges’ job is to take risks which the professionals may not be able to take.
The full version of this article appears in issue 1 of 2014 of Child and Family Law Quarterly.