Of 'Hoods' and 'Ships' and Citizens: The Contradictions Confronting Mothers in the New Post-Separation Family
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This article argues that the new family laws in Australia have created a tension between the good pre-separation mother citizen and the good post-separation mother citizen. With the emphasis on shared parenting, post-separation mothers must now sacrifice time with their children in favour of the fathers. This tends to obscure the past care work of mothers and to valorise fathers. Using a linguistic ploy, I reveal the identities and lived realities of the citizens of the modern family by examining their ?hoods' (their passive state or condition) and their ?ships' (their more active duties and tasks). These include their motherhood and fatherhood, their mothership and ?fathership'. The introduction of Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) heralded a more contemporary family law in Australia, and seemed to recognise some aspects of mothers' citizenship by valuing ?wifeship' and ?mothership'. However, this was followed by the rise of fathers' rights groups and a number of transformations of parenting laws, with the most recent significant reforms occurring in 2006. After analysing two recent relocation cases, I argue that current parenting laws tend to ignore the complex realities of mothers' lives. I suggest that the concept of parental ?investment', relational theories and the theory of intimate citizenship may provide useful frameworks for reconceptualising some factors relevant to parenting decisions.
Griffith Law Review
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Civil Law and Procedure