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 and raising a family before joining London Metropolitan University where I lectured Family and Child Law for 21 years, and was latterly 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 ground-breaking 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 have 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 affiliated to The Westminster Law with whom we work closely on matters of mutual interest.
Although much of my work concerns international matters, I am also actively involved in domestic Family Law issues, including those relating to divorce, parental responsibility, residence and contact. This long-term involvement with Family Law matters and their outcomes has resulted in my 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.
My current research interests are in international child abduction, relocation, forced marriage, media law as it impacts on families, and other family/child related topics.