Towards a Structure of Indifference: The Social Origins of Maternal Custody
In the forty years between 1880 and 1920, the presumption that divorced and separated fathers in normal circumstances should be granted the custody of their children was changed in all Western countries that permitted divorce. New laws where passed that soon gave way to the almost certain award of child custody to mothers.
This book, a study of that change in presumption of custody, addresses two fundamental questions. The first, straightforwardly empirical, is: Why has a shift of that magnitude and importance been lost to the public memory in less than a hundred years? The second is more abstract: Why did the dominant group, the fathers, cede rights to the mothers without duress -- indeed, without concerted political or collective action of any kind?.
Prior attempts to account for the change in custody failed because they underestimated the role played by the state in each instance, and ignored the class character of divorce of the period. Friedman's own account begins by examining the considerable pressures brought to bear by rapidly rising divorce rates in England, France, and the United States. Maternal custody arose as a by-product of the state's concerns about the potential for a vastly increased welfare burden imposed by financially dependent women following divorce. During the transition, responsibility for children's welfare was diffused, with mothers becoming responsible for nurture, fathers for financial support, and states for schooling. Ultimately this led to a structure of indifference, with striking consequences for the welfare of children after divorce.
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Divorce and the Social Bargain Child Custody in Historical Context
The ParentChild Relation
The Family as a RiskReducing Institution
Divorce and the Social Bargain
The States Interest in Childrens Welfare
The Historical Roots of the Structure of Indifference
The Social Construction of the ParentChild Relation
Marriage as the Basis of Family Structure
The Sense of Urgency Occasioned by Rising Divorce Rates
Divorce in the United States 18671920
Cause of Divorce and Custody of Children
Debates about the Divorce Problem and Its Implications for Children
The Class Character of Divorce
Longer Life But No Jobs The Dilemma for Women following Divorce
AgeSpecific Marital Status in France and England
Blackstone on ParentChild Relations
Paternal Presumption in Child Custody following Divorce
Challenges to Paternal Preference in England and the United States
Consequences for the Security of Children
Received Explanations for the Change to Maternal Preference in Child Custody
The Differentiation of Roles and the Emphasis on Motherhood
The Connection between Motherhood and Childhood Socialization
Who Benefited from the Emphasis on Motherhood?
Consequences for Custody Decisions
Received Knowledge on the Subject of the Change in Child Custody Laws
The Consequences for Custody of the MotherhoodChildhood Link
Gathering the Strands of Explanation
The Rhetoric of the Best Interest of the Child
Concern with Incentives
The Pressure of the Rising Divorce Rate
The Importance of Divorce Rates for the Shift in Preference for Mothers over Fathers in Custody
The States Interest in Divorce
Why Not Remarry?
Disadvantage of Women in the Labor Market
Married and Divorced Women in the Labor Force
Who Would Care for the Women and Children following Divorce?
Financial Obligations to Fathers Education to the State Parcelling the Needs of Children
Maternalist Social Policies in the United States1
Reiteration of the Fathers Private Obligation
The Structure of Indifference
Reassessing the Social Bargain
What to Do? Assessments of Proposed Child Custody Alternatives
A ChildCentric Alternative
Circumventing the Structure of Indifference