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Cross CurrentsFamily Law and Policy in the US and England$
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Sanford N. Katz, John Eekelaar, and Mavis MacLean

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198268208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.001.0001

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Disputing Children

Disputing Children

(p.440) (p.441) 20 Disputing Children
Cross Currents

Michael Freeman

Oxford University Press

Fifty years ago there were disputes over children—many fewer than there are now because there were many fewer divorces and Britain was a less rights-conscious society—but their character was very different from those of today. Feminism had not (re)emerged and, though the world had focused on children in the aftermath of World War I there was no talk of children’s rights. Cases did not need to go to court: the couple filing for divorce bargained in the shadow of legal and psychological truths and this was encapsulated in the writings of John Bowlby. In 1926, the leading case on children was Re Thain. This had decided that the parental right of an unimpeachable parent should take priority over considerations of a child’s welfare. This chapter discusses parental disputes over children in Britain, the emergence of children’s rights, the enactment of the Children Act 1989, the shift in parent-child relations from parental rights to parental responsibility, and the role of religion and race in settling disputes over children.

Keywords:   Britain, children, disputes, divorce, child welfare, Children Act 1989, parental rights, parental responsibility, religion

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