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Researching other people's rows: Current research into divorce conciliation

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This paper has been a review of some current issues in research to monitor conciliation and mediation in matrimonial disputes. We have argued that although the main faults of the Lord Chancellor's Department'sReport of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Conciliation have been well identified by critics, some of the criticisms are unnecessarily harsh and unfair. Second, we have pointed to the major weaknesses of research to date on conciliation. These are: (a) the absence of convincing controls to conciliated clients; (b) the lack of consumer research. We have suggested an aggressive research design to overcome the first of these problems and argued against theprima facie ethical objection to it. Finally, we have reviewed the issue of confidentiality of information in relation to research needs. We have suggested that a reluctance to betray confidences can not only be seen as part of a general adherence to the “informed consent” principle, but that, for us, it forms part of a general attitude to research that treats clients as responsible partners in the acquisition of knowledge and insight.

With these three themes in mind we look forward to research into conciliation that is (a) more convincing than the Robinson report; (b) more adventurous in tackling the problems of legitimate inference of the cause/effect type; (c) sensitive to ethical issues without being unnecessarily timid.

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Bradshaw, A., Pottinger, J. & Bowen, M. Researching other people's rows: Current research into divorce conciliation. Liverpool Law Rev 6, 166–187 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01080281

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  • Informed Consent
  • Research Design
  • Ethical Issue
  • General Attitude
  • Current Issue