This new report is the first legal study in England and Wales to focus on sibling relationships. It offers insights into current thinking about siblings and fills a knowledge gap. By identifying the impact of the shifting legal framework and practitioner and expert assumptions about siblings underpinning current legal decision-making, it addresses an overlooked issue. The findings point to a need for reflexive engagement with the assumptions currently underpinning the significance attributed to sibling relationships and how such understanding shapes understanding of ‘best interests’ decisions.
A recurring theme from legal practitioners is that their involvement ceased at the end of care proceedings and linked to this was a wide recognition of the crucial importance of the role of the IRO in keeping plans for sibling contact under review.
The report makes a number of recommendations.
Download the summary report: Monk, D. and Macvarish, J (2018) Siblings, contact and the law: an overlooked relationship?
Also recommended: Beyond Together or Apart: Planning For, Assessing and Placing Sibling Groups (Beckett, CoramBAAF, 2018).
Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive – Cafcass on considering the importance of sibling relationships in family proceedings (2017):
- The most important thing is to listen to each child individually. They may be related, but that doesn’t mean they share the same opinions, so don’t consider them as a package.
- Make your decision based on what you think would be best for each child.
- Professionals need to see sibling relationships as being just as important as parent or grandparent relationships, whether it be full sibling or half sibling.
- Remember that as we are individuals, we may want to express our views in different ways. Give us the option to speak to you separately or together, or maybe even both.
- It is important to keep siblings together or to maintain a good level of contact during family breakdown.