Changes in the Status and Nature of a Family Court Case

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In this paper, changes in the status and nature of one case from the Family Court of England and Wales will be discussed. The changes cover two aspects of the case. Firstly, the shift from a civil action – a standard family court case concerning the break-up of a relationship and its effect on the children born from the relationship – to a quasi-criminal case in which contempt of court plays the central role; this will be discussed from a Greimasian perspective. Secondly, the case is accompanied by types of silence – from the textual silence of private proceedings in the Family Court to the conversational silence in the form of one of the protagonists’ right of silence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Contempt of court
  • Family court
  • Right of silence
  • Semiotic square

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Law


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