This chapter analyses the role of relationship responsibility in the law of divorce and parenthood, using a framework that distinguishes historical and prospective responsibility. The former is concerned with attributing blame, the latter with defining roles. For divorce, it argues there are strong reasons why the legal process should not seek to assess blame for marital breakdown. The removal of fault does not imply negation of responsibility, only ‘historical’ responsibility. Prospective responsibility is recognized through property and financial allocations after divorce, and ideas for reforming the process of obtaining a divorce have attempted to encourage responsible behaviour. The grounds for allocating responsibility to specified adults towards children are also examined. It concludes that while people have a responsibility to comply with the law, a fuller sense of responsibility will sometimes demand that people refrain from enforcing their legal rights, or act beyond their legal duties, out of recognition of ‘the other’ and the interests of the community.
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