A tension lies at the heart of family law. Expressed in the language of rights and duties, it seeks to impose enforceable obligations on individuals linked to each other by ties that are usually regarded as based on love or blood. Taking a contextual approach that draws on history, sociology and social policy as well as law and legal theory, this book examines the concept of obligation as it has been developed in family law and the difficulties the law has had in translating it from a theoretical and ideological concept into the basis of enforceable actions and duties. Increasingly, the idea of commitment has been offered as the key organising principle for the recognition of family relationships, often as a means of rebutting claims that family ties are becoming attenuated, but the meaning and scope of this concept have not been explored. The book traces how the notion of commitment is understood and how far it has come to be used as a rationale for imposing the core legal obligations which underpin care and caring within families.
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Table of Contents1. The Ties that Bind?
II. Care and Caring
III. Legal Obligation
IV. Obligation as a Social Norm
VI. The Rationale for Obligations Upon Family Members
VII. Obligation or Commitment
2. Family Change and Individual Commitment
I. Family Changes
II. A Demographic Picture
III. From the Family to the Individual
IV. Change and Commitment
3. To Have and To Hold
I. Compelling Cohabitation
II. The Concept of Consortium
III. The Suit for Restitution of Conjugal Rights
IV. The Modern 'Duty' of Cohabitation
V. Marriage as Personal Commitment
4. A Clean Break
I. A Duty to Maintain
II. Maintenance During Marriage
III. Post-Divorce Maintenance and the Clean Break
IV. Triumph of the Clean Break?
5. Can't Pay? Won't Pay!
I. Duty to State, Mother or Child?
II. Limiting the Burden on the State
III. Protecting the Position of Mothers
IV. Supporting the Child
V. A Culture of Non-Compliance
6. Parenthood is for Life
I. Obligation or Right?
II. Paternal Right and Maternal Concession
III. A Right of Both Parents
IV. A Right of the Child
V. A Parental Responsibility
VI. Enforcing Contact
VII. A Presumption of Continuing Parental Involvement
VIII. An Obligation to be 'Involved'?
7. Who Cares?
I. Care-Giving as an Obligation
II. Care-Giving as a Claim to a Remedy
III. Caring Relationships
IV. Recognition of Caring Relationships, or Recognition of Care?
8. The Law of Family Obligations
I. Care, Obligation and Commitment
II. Altruism, Family Obligation and Non-Justiciability
III. The Gendered Legal Approach to the Family Unit
IV. Obligations and Commitments in Family Law
V. Obligation and Commitment