Linda C. Neilson

Professor Emerita



Tilley Hall 20

1 506 453 4849

Dr. Linda C Neilson, Professor Emerita and research associate of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research, is a lawyer and a sociolegal academic. Her fields include domestic and family violence, court systems, family law, conflict resolution and sociology of law.

Linda holds two degrees from the University of New Brunswick: BA (Hons) and LL.B (now called J.D.). She practised law in New Brunswick (1979-1986, 1988-1992). In 1986 she took a leave of absence from law practice to conduct graduate studies at the London School of Economics (L.S.E.), Faculty of Law in England. Following academic assessment, she was transferred from the MPhil into the University’s PhD Program and was awarded a PhD in Law together with a certificate of Cross-disciplinary graduate studies in Family Law, Conflict Resolution, and Sociology by the University of London (L.S.E.) in 1992. She accepted an tenure-stream academic appointment at the University of New Brunswick in the Sociology Department the following year where she coordinated the development and implementation of the University’s multidisciplinary Law in Society Program.

During her career, Linda supervised numerous graduate (MA, MPhil and PhD) students in Sociology and in multidisciplinary programs. She received two national awards for her family mediation research, two Faculty Merit awards from the University of New Brunswick and was appointed University Research Scholar in 2011-2013. In 2021 she was the recipient of the annual national Lieutenant-Governor and the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation Award for outstanding contributions to the elimination of family violence in Canada and in 2022 the Crime Prevention Association of New Brunswick, Hall of Fame Award. She retired from teaching in 2016.

Throughout her career, Linda’s research has been devoted to legal system analysis and reform. Governments, judicial and academic institutions have invited her to present her work nationally and internationally (Australia, Hungary, Italy, England, United States). Her PhD research and subsequent collaboration with P. English resulted in a national certification process for family law mediators (Family Mediation Canada).

Major works include, on behalf of the National Judicial Institute, three editions of a peer-reviewed electronic bench book for Canadian Judges on domestic violence and family law and two editions (2017, 2020) of a comprehensive practice e-book for lawyers, mediators, and service providers as well as for judges on the same topic published by the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII); a report on responding to family violence cases in multiple court systems for Justice Canada; and a national case law analysis of family court responses to parental alienation claims. She initiated the formation of an international group of experts (from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States) conducting research on family violence and child well-being problems associated with parental alienation concepts. Linda serves regularly on government committees as a policy consultant and is associated with the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research. She is Co-Principal Investigator, with Joanne Boucher (court coordinator, Province of New Brunswick) and two Judicial Advisers of a project, funded by Justice Canada, to design Canada’s first coordinated family violence court model spanning the family, child protection, civil protection and the Provincial and Queen’s Bench court systems.

Selected publications

Neilson, Linda C. (2023). Failure to Protect: Social and Institutional Factors that Prevent Access to Justice in Family Violence/Family Law Cases. Family Violence & Family Law Brief #25 Fredericton, NB: Muriel McQueen Fergusson Center for Family Violence Research. ISBN 978-1-7778342-4-1.
Available in French as: Neilson, Linda C. (2023). Défaut de protection: Facteurs sociaux et institutionnels empêchant l’accès à la justice – Affaires de violence familiale et relevant du droit de la familie. Document sur la violence familiale et le droit de la familie #25. Fredericton NB: Centre Muriel McQueen Fergusson pour la recherche sur la violence familiale. ISBN: 978-1-7778342-4.1.

Neilson, Linda C. (2023) “Parental Alienation Belief Versus Child Best Interests: Family Law in Crisis” Chapter 8 in Catherine Holtmann, Sue O’Donnell & Linda Neilson Eds. Ending Gender-Based Violence Harnessing Research for Social Change (Concord, Ontario: Captus Press).

Neilson, Linda C. with Joanne Boucher, Justice Brigitte Robichaud and Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman (2022) Collaborative Design of a Research-Informed, Coordinated Provincial / Queen’s Bench Family Violence Court Model | Conception collaborative d’un modèle de tribunal de la violence familiale provincial/Cour du Banc du Roi coordonné et fondé sur la recherche. (Fredericton: Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research).

Loretta Frederick, Peter Jaffe, Joan Meier, Simon Lapierre, & Linda C Neilson (2021) The misuse of alienation in domestic violence cases in family court: Helping court-related professionals to sort through conflicting allegations. Webinar. (London, Ontario: Learning Network, Western University, Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children)

Neilson, Linda C (2020, 2nd ed.) Responding to Domestic Violence in Family Law, Civil Protection & Child Protection Cases (Ottawa: Canadian Legal Information Institute, CanLII). The 2020 1500+ page e-book replaces the earlier 2017 edition.

Neilson, Linda C. & Susan B. Boyd (2020) with review comments by Hon. Donna Martinson Interpreting the New Divorce Act, Rules of Statutory Interpretation & Senate Observations (Toronto: LEAF Canada); French translation

Neilson, Linda C. with Joan Meier, Elizabeth Sheehy, Margaret Jackson, Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Susan Boyd, Peter Jaffe, and Simon Lapierre (2019) Collective Memo of Concern to: World Health Organization (London, Ontario: Learning to End Abuse, Western University).

Neilson, Linda C (2019) Brief on Bill C-78 Prepared for Canadian Senate (UNB Research Repository); (2018) Brief on Bill C -78: An Act to amend the Divorce Act, The Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (Ottawa: House of Commons, Committee on Justice and Human Rights)

Neilson, Linda C. (2018) Parental Alienation Empirical Analysis: Child Best Interests or Parental Rights? (Vancouver: FREDA Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children)

Neilson, Linda C. (2015) Enhancing Civil Protection In Domestic Violence Cases: Cross Canada Checkup (Fredericton: Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research, UNB).

Neilson, Linda C. (2014) Enhancing Safety: When Domestic Violence Cases are in Multiple Legal Systems (Criminal, family, child protection) A Family Law, Domestic Violence Perspective (Ottawa: Department of Justice); Renforcement de la sécurité: Affaires de violence conjugale faisant intervenir plusieurs systèmes juridiques (en matière de droit pénal, de droit de la famille et de protection de la jeunesse) Perspective du droit de la famille sur la violence conjugale (Ottawa: Ministère de la Justice)

Neilson, Linda C. (2014) At Cliff's Edge: Judicial Dispute Resolution in Domestic Violence Cases. Family Court Review 52(3): 529-563 republished in judicial educational materials in the US, in Voice of the Child Series, Part 4 (California).

Neilson, Linda C. (2009, 2011, 2015 editions) Domestic Violence Electronic Bench Book (Ottawa: National Judicial Institute) originally published in 2009 as Domestic Violence and Family Law in Canada: A Handbook for Judges (Ottawa: National Judicial Institute) with Introductory Comments by Justice John F. McGarry, Superior Court, Ontario.

Neilson, Linda C (2010) “Assessing Mutual Partner-Abuse Claims in Child Custody and Access Cases”, Chapter 9 in Nick Larsen and Brian Burtch (eds.) Law in Society, Canadian Readings (Toronto: Nelson Education).

Neilson, Linda C. (2007) “Mediators' and lawyers' perceptions of education and training in family mediation” 12(2) Conflict Resolution Quarterly 165-184.

Neilson, Linda C. (2004) “Assessing Mutual Partner-Abuse Claims in Child Custody and Access Cases”, Family Court Review 42 (3) 411-438.

Neilson, Linda C. (2004) “Children and Family Violence in the New Brunswick Law: How Responsibilities Get Lost In Rights” in Mary Lou Stirling et al. Eds. Understanding Abuse: Partnering for Change, University of Toronto Press.

Neilson, Linda C. (2003) “Putting Revisions to the Divorce Act Through a Family Violence Filter: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” Canadian Journal of Family Law 20 (1) 11-56.

Neilson, Linda C. (2002) “A Comparative Analysis of Law in Theory and Law in Action in Partner Abuse Cases: What Do the Data Tell Us?” Studies in Law, Politics and Society 26: 141-87.

Linda C. Neilson (2001) Spousal Abuse, Children and the Legal System Final Report for Canadian Bar Association Law for the Futures Fund (Fredericton: Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research, March 2001).

Neilson, Linda C. (1997) "Spousal Abuse, Children and the Courts: The Case For Social Rather than Legal Change". Canadian Journal of Law and Society 12(1): 101-145, republished in J. Banfield (ed.) Readings in Law and Society (North York: Captus Press 1999).