Journal Article

Joint custody as an interpretation of the best interests of the child in critical and comparative perspective

K Kurki-Suonio

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 14, issue 3, pages 183-205
Published in print December 2000 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online December 2000 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/14.3.183
Joint custody as an interpretation of the best interests of the child in critical and comparative perspective

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In most western countries there is now a certain cultural consensus that joint custody is the best alternative for children when their parents separate or divorce. Joint parental custody can thus be regarded as the current cultural interpretation of the best interests principle. Taking a historical perspective, we encounter two additional cultural interpretations, namely, maternal preference and the psychological parent. Three different factors which have evolved simultaneously are brought out in comparative analysis of the development of these three different custodial ideals: the contribution of psychological experts to the child custody debate, gender roles in child care, and the meaning of divorce and separation from the perspective of children's need for protection, ie principally from the perspective of state intervention. In the second part of the article I use the cultural analysis to examine critically the current interpretation of the joint custody principle in Finland, comparing it to the English concept of parental responsibility.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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