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Desertion: legislation and administration : a comparative review of desertion legislation in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario : administration of desertion legislation by Family Courts; implications for social work practice in British Columbia. Bingham, Thomas Donald

Abstract

The purpose of this study has been to review desertion legislation; and to examine social work participation in the administration of desertion laws. The key question posed is: Does legislation work in dealing with cases of desertion? In order to gather answers to the key question, pertinent legislation is reviewed. Included is: (a) The Canadian Criminal Code; (b) maintenance legislation of the provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia; (c) common law remedies; and (d) certain English and American laws which pertain to desertion. To gain an understanding of the policies and problems of administering desertion legislation, interviews were held with those who are working daily with eases of desertion and non-support. Interviewed were; Judges of the Family Court, Magistrates, police, probation officers, provincial and municipal social welfare administrators, and social workers. The Family Court is the acknowledge authority in dealing with problems of desertion. Because of this, its policies were used as a guide in reviewing the procedures followed by other social welfare agencies throughout British Columbia. This study suggests that; (a) certain minor revisions would strengthen the British Columbia Wives' and Children's Maintenance Act; (b) desertion Is as much a social problem as a legal problem; (c) social workers would be well advised to consider taking a more active part in court cases involving desertion; (d) in the final analysis a man cannot be forced to support his dependents if he wilfully refuses; and (e) skillful social work help can assist many deserters to assume their maintenance responsibilities.

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