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Dr Emma Hitchings awarded joint £70K Nuffield Foundation grant

Press release issued: 19 December 2011

Dr Emma Hitchings and Ms Joanna Miles (University of Cambridge) have been awarded a grant worth £70,000 from the Nuffield Foundation to undertake empirical research to discover the stage within court proceedings at which consent orders are made.

Consent orders are court orders reflecting the parties’ agreement, rather than being imposed following adjudication. Over 90% of ancillary relief applications (financial and property disputes on divorce) are already disposed of by consent orders. In addition, Emma and Joanna will examine the characteristics of such cases and the content of consent orders resolved at different stages.

These issues will be explored in two linked studies:

[A] a survey of court files in four court centres to identify (1) the stage within court proceedings at which consent orders are made, and (2) the characteristics of cases and content of orders resolved at different stages. They will follow up this with [B] semi-structured interviews with family justice system professionals in the four areas, discussing issues arising from the file survey and/or more generally their experience of concluding ancillary relief settlements, with a view to identifying factors contributing to early, late or no settlement. These studies will help Emma and Joanna to obtain a richer understanding of private ordering of financial disputes in this jurisdiction and what factors help and hinder settlement of financial disputes following divorce, in order to inform future reform and policy developments. The research is due to commence in the spring/summer 2012.

Further information

Please contact Dr Emma Hitchings for further information.
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