* ‘What will the Women Want Next?’<sup>1</sup> The Struggle for Power within the Family, 1925–1975


in Law, Law Reform and the Family

Published in print December 1998 | ISBN: 9780198268710
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191683565 | DOI:
* ‘What will the Women Want Next?’1 The Struggle for Power within the Family, 1925–1975

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Notwithstanding the widely voiced pessimism about the future of marriage and even of the family, and concern about the plight of single-parent families, the majority of marriages are only terminated by death; and the majority of children live in households formed by their two married parents. The law sometimes seems little concerned about the rights and duties of the members of functioning families, and it is often forgotten that in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, married women had to struggle, not only to better their property and civic rights, but even to gain equal legal standing as parent of their children. The Guardianship of Infants Act 1925 was the outcome of a prolonged and bitter struggle to achieve that objective. This chapter explores the background to the 1925 Act and examines the sometimes ambivalent role played by civil servants in the process of law reform. The story furnishes evidence that it was never intended that this provision should make child welfare the only consideration in resolving questions about upbringing.

Keywords: Guardianship of Infants Act 1925; civil servants; law reform; marriage; family; child welfare; parents

Chapter.  19339 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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