Journal Article

Mixed Messages: Parental Responsibilities, Public Opinion and the Reforms of Family Law

Ian Dey and Fran Wasoff

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 20, issue 2, pages 225-248
Published in print August 2006 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online June 2006 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/ebl013
Mixed Messages: Parental Responsibilities, Public Opinion and the Reforms of Family Law

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This article explores some issues arising when updating family law to keep pace with changes in family practices and values, in particular with changing patterns of parenting. It considers the extension of parental rights and responsibilities beyond the conventional boundaries of family law – to unmarried fathers, step-parents and grandparents – with reference to four different roles of family law. These roles are: protecting children, resolving disputes, regulating family life and promoting family norms. The article takes as an example of legal reform the recently enacted Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, which extends parental rights and responsibilities to unmarried fathers who jointly register the child’s birth; but not to step-parents or grandparents. The mixed messages that this reform conveys are considered in relation to the latest evidence of public opinion in Scotland about parental obligations and the extent to which they align with public opinion on these issues.

Journal Article.  10148 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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