Who Influences Family Law Reform? Discourses on Motherhood and Fatherhood in Legislative Reform Debates in Canada

Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 26, pp. 43-75, 2002

Posted: 25 Jun 2009

See all articles by Susan B. Boyd

Susan B. Boyd

University of British Columbia Allard School of Law

Claire Young

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2002

Abstract

This article examines resistance to law reform initiatives in the field of child support and child custody and access law by those who say that special rights are being given to women and that the “family” and fathers are under threat. Specifically we consider whether legislative reforms in these areas have been inappropriately influenced by feminists, as many fathers’ rights groups would argue, and we try to determine who set the agenda for the legislative changes that occurred in Canada duri8ng the late 1960s to the mid-1980s. Relying on debates in the House of Commons and parliamentary committees, our findings are that the interests of women did not receive preferential treatment. The debates on support enforcement focused more on the need to protect the state from financial responsibility for the “victims” of divorce than on the economic needs of women and children. During the 1980s especially, men’s defaults in support payments were increasingly linked to the alienation of fathers from their children. This concern about paternal alienation, combined wit the assumption that the law had gone too far in terms of favoring women over men, resulted in legislation on child custody and access that reflected a compromise which generated new difficulties for mothers in custody disputes.

Keywords: Family law – interpretation and construction

Suggested Citation

Boyd, Susan Barbara and Young, Claire, Who Influences Family Law Reform? Discourses on Motherhood and Fatherhood in Legislative Reform Debates in Canada (2002). Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 26, pp. 43-75, 2002, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1425264

Susan Barbara Boyd (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia Allard School of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada
604-822-8108 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.allard.ubc.ca/faculty-staff/susan-b-boyd-frsc

Claire Young

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada

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