University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Guidelines for the Use of Social Science Research in Family Law

AFCC Task Force on the Guidelines for the Use of Social Science, and Misca, Gabriela ORCID: (2019) Guidelines for the Use of Social Science Research in Family Law. Family Court Review, 57 (2). pp. 193-200. ISSN Print: 1531-2445 Online: 1744-1617

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In recent years, increasing attention has been given to social science research in family law (1) —
especially how it can inform professional practice and contribute to “best interest” decisions for
Social science research is defined here as knowledge claims or general assertions about children, parents, and families in their social context that are derived from data gathered using one or more of a wide range of scientific research methodologies. Recognized scientific research methodologies involve description of the population of study and systematic, transparent, and replicable methods for ethically collecting and analyzing data and reporting the results of studies.
Vigorous debates have occurred within publications, professional conferences, and individual cases about the extent to which social science research claims are more or less well substantiated by research data (versus being speculative, untested, or based upon erroneous assumptions).
Some debate is expected and useful for deepening our understanding of children and families; however, unresolved differences in the family law field can also magnify conflict and confusion. With more contentious issues, unresolved, inconsistent, and competing research claims and assertions may, in part, reflect misunderstanding and misuse of research data.

In 2016, then-AFCC President Marsha Kline Pruett appointed an international interdisciplinary task force to develop guidelines to promote critical thinking about effective, responsible, and ethical use of social science research in family law–related education, practices, programs, and policy making (2). The two-year process of task force meetings, drafting, and revision gave rise to these Guidelines for the Use of Social Science Research in Family Law.

1. These Guidelines refer to family law in the broadest sense and include the practice of law, all family law-related dispute resolution processes, education and training programs, and policy advocacy or initiatives.
2. AFCC President Marsha Kline Pruett, Ph.D., MSL, ABPP, convened the following people to serve with her on the task
force: Hon. William Fee, Chair; Stacey Platt, J.D., Reporter; Milfred “Bud” Dale, J.D., Ph.D.; Kristin Doeberl, J.D.; Amy Holtzworth-Munroe, Ph.D.; Janet Johnston, Ph.D.; Gabriela Misca, Ph.D.; Lorie Nachlis, J.D.; Sol Rappaport, Ph.D.; Michael Saini, Ph.D.; Liana Shelby, Psy. D.; Hon. R. James Williams; Theresa Williams, M.S.; Jeffrey Wittmann, Ph.D.; and Peter Salem, M.A., Executive Director of AFCC.
3. Family justice practitioners include all professionals and litigants, including self-represented litigants, who seek to present, use, and critique research claims.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

The full-text of the "Guidelines for the Use of
Social Science Research in Family Law" can be accessed via the link below:-
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Staff and students at the University of Worcester have access to the full-text of the online published version via the UW online Library Search. External users should check availability with their local library or Interlibrary Requests Service.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: social science research, family law, guidelines, IRWRG
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Gabriela Misca
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2019 11:01
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2023 15:10

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