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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The allocation of responsibility for the maintenance of the single parent family Violet, Ian

Abstract

The social problem under investigation is that of widespread poverty amongst households comprising minor chidren and a lone parent, whether this household has arisen due to a birth outside a stable union, separation, divorce or widowhood. The scale and features of this poverty are identified with reference to demographic data from Canada and the United Kingdom. Possible policies for reform are identified through a thorough review of literature from the Commonwealth and the United States. Special attention is paid to empirical investigations and the relationship between public and private support of single parent families. Whilst none of the four hypothetical reforms proposed - a system of insurance, rigorous enforcement of court orders, constraining judicial discretion, expanded rights to public support - is unconditionally accepted, only insurance is rejected as offering nothing of value. The conclusion is that the non-custodial parent's responsibility for his or her children must continue to be emphasised but that public resources should be expended with a view to assisting the single parent to obtain, enforce and periodically vary orders in favour of the children. For the single parent himself or herself, the aim must be to reverse the current process of marginalisation within society and this independence can best be achieved by reforms of the labour market rather than by reforms of the legal process.

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