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Parental substance use and family justice: recent research

Date:9 MAY 2023
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Dr Simon Flacks University of Sussex

The majority of care applications in England and Wales are thought to involve some concern about parental substance use. However there is scope for better understanding how precisely PSU is understood and framed by different actors in the Family Court. This article is based on two strands of research: a study based on reported case law which examined how parental substance use is conceptualised within family law judgments; and an empirical project involving 35 interviews with social workers solicitors barristers psychiatrists and district judges. On the basis of the findings it is suggested that there may be some inconsistency in how different actors and courts understand the role of substance use in assessing child risk. Some participants were concerned that it may be too easy for cases to pivot on the question of substance use to the potential neglect of other (perhaps more complicated) factors affecting parenting capacity. The drug test was according to some accounts overly instrumental to case outcomes. Finally analysis of both case law and interview...

Read the full article here.