The research project examines Swedish administrative court proceedings concerning discontinuation of child protective custody. Although the same formal requirements are applicable to the initiation of protective custody as to its termination, in practice, the later threshold appears to be higher in order to revoke an ongoing measure. This may mean that the longer children stay in protective care, the more difficult it becomes for families to reunite.
A starting point is taken in the theoretical notion of 'path dependency' as explanatory factor. First of all, a critical stance is taken on the allocation of the burden of proof, in order to ascertain whether general principles for administrative proceedings are equally applicable to proceedings for terminating child protective custody. Secondly, crosslegitimatization of professional actors is understood as an element of normative power, weakening already vulnerable litigants. Finally, prevailing notions of normality and deviation are explored in order to identify factors making it difficult to break the cycle of protective measures.
These issues are addressed through an innovative interdisciplinary approach. The project applies a theoretical model from the social studies tradition to the legal context of institutionalization. It also relies on qualitative and quantitative tools towards empirically studying the reality and ground rules of litigation before Swedish administrative courts.