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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

30 APR 2009

Mental Health Law For Family Lawyers: An Overview

Jonathan Butler and Helen Wilson, Barristers, India Buildings Chambers, Liverpool

The first part of this article deals with parents who have a mental disorder such that they have been detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 (the MHA) and who are parties to public law proceedings. The second part deals with children who have a mental disorder, and also have been detained under the MHA, and are a party to public law proceedings. It does not deal with the detail of detention under the MHA, or how discharge from detention might be effected. Some of the points raised are also relevant (generally) to either children or parents who have not been detained, but who may have a mental disorder.

This area of law is becoming increasingly relevant and important for family lawyers who represent parties within public law proceedings. It is estimated that approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem. One in four British adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year. One in four unemployed people have a common mental health problem and in relation to children, one in ten children between the ages of 1 and 15 have a mental disorder.

To read the rest of this article, see May [2009] Family Law journal.

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