I am a Family Law specialist, in particular in the area of Child Law, and have worked for many years with the practical and academic issues involved in this subject.
I was called to the English Bar (Middle Temple) in 1986 having completed an LL.M at King's College, London after which I spent some time in practice at the Bar before joining London Metropolitan University where I remained for 21 years lecturing both Family and Child Law before being appointed as Professor of Family Law. During my time there, I maintained my practical involvement in the areas in which I worked academically through my appointment, which still continues, as door tenant at 4, Paper Buildings, a specialist set of barristers' chambers. I was also the Head of the reunite Research Unit for several years (reunite is the leading UK government-funded charity dealing with international child abduction) concentrating my research efforts and practical work in the areas of international child abduction and international children issues.
In 2006 I gained a doctorate in international child abduction, and am widely acknowledged as a leading expert in this area. I have undertaken several key research projects, some supported by government departments (The Foreign and Commonwealth Office; The Ministry of Justice; The Home Office), including research into the effects of both international child abduction and relocation, as well as in the issues relating to forced marriage. With my co-director, Frances Burton, I established the International Centre for Family Law, Policy, and Practice (ICFLPP) in order to develop the specialist international aspects of the work with which we are both involved. The Centre is closely connected to The Westminster Law School through my post at the university, and we have collaborated on several key initiatives including the highly successful 2019 ICFLPP conference on 'Gender, Inclusivity and Protecting the 21st Century Family' held in association with the University of Westminster. I am also chairperson of the International Association of Child Law Researchers (IACLaR).
My long-term involvement with Family Law matters and their outcomes has resulted in an enduring interest in those who are affected by them, both in relation to the relevant law and practice which govern the disputes which arise in their cases, and the most helpful ways for resolving these complicated and testing family situations. It is this commitment which has led to my qualifying as a Family Mediator trained to undertake direct consultation with children, and cases involving international child abduction, and other international family disputes.
I publish widely in my areas of expertise, and am delighted to be invited regularly to address both national and international conferences on my work, as well as to participate as an expert in working groups and other initiatives, and to act as a referee for the work of others. I am often approached by media for comment on particular stories or developments, and have taken part in numerous radio and television pieces, as well as other journalistic items.
In addition to my continuing work in the fields of international child abduction and relocation, my current research interests are primarily in the areas of child participation, and identity.