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Family courts have utilised social work services to assist in making decisions in private law disputes since the late nineteenth century. During this period, the initial role of the court missionary developed into the family court welfare officer, and subsequently into the family court adviser. Although the family justice system accepts the need for social work advice to the courts, the relationship between law and social science has been subject to continuous tension, which is still evident in unresolved conflicts about the boundaries between adjudication and welfare.
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