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Title: The problem of parenting in lesbian familes and family law.
Author: Smith , L. J.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3447 6283
Awarding Body: Queens University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis explores the relationship between the problems that parenting has presented in lesbian families and family law. Through a series of theoretical and empirical observations, the thesis suggests that a 'heterosexual parenting paradigm' continues to pervade law and society, notwithstanding numerous changes in the legal status of non-heterosexual relationships. Drawing from interviews with sixteen lesbian parents, it is demonstrated that this heterosexual parenting paradigm has a significant impact on the how lesbian families are embraced politically, culturally and institutionally. The thesis goes on to illustrate that the heterosexual parenting paradigm has also constrained the general effectiveness of legal responses to the changing nature of parental relationships. As a result, it is suggested that the common law and legislative approach to defining parent/child relationships has become anachronistic. In pmticular, law has not yet established means of reflecting adequately the fragmentation of parenthood into its genetic and social components. This in tum has created some confusion and inconsistency in the legal framework for recognising parents. In relation to lesbian parents it is concluded that, notwithstanding positive developments, law has done little to erode the hegemony of the heterosexual parenting paradigm and the problems presented by lesbian parenting have not been satisfactorily dealt with. Finally, the thesis calls for a review of the way in which parenting is recognised in law, arguing that a more functional definition of parenthood is necessary and would benefit both lesbian families and family law.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available