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The Best Interests of Children

The Best Interests of Children: An Evidence-Based Approach

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 140
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  • Book Info
    The Best Interests of Children
    Book Description:

    The Best Interests of Childrenlinks social theory with survey data to establish much-needed parameters for determining a child's best interest.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9773-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-7)

    I have been researching the area of family law in Canada for several years, with a particular emphasis on custody determinations (Millar and Goldenberg 1998, 2004) and some incursion into the area of child support (Millar and Gauthier 2002). That research highlighted a couple of surprising facts: first, the Canadian legal system holds the ʹbest interests of the childʹ as the paramount criterion in assessing family law issues, trumping or avoiding even constitutional provisions,¹ and, second, legal commentators lament the dearth of solid criteria available to define what that ʹbest interestsʹ entails (McLeod and Mamo 2001). Moreover, in an age...

  6. 2 Child Custody Outcomes in Canada
    (pp. 8-43)

    In this chapter, I look at the law within the greater context of social control, and then examine custody within its historical context as a special case of formal social control. The determinants of custody are then tested with a quantitative model using data obtained from the Canadian Department of Justice.

    Very few people directly encounter formal law in any given week in a modern industrial state, yet a high degree of social control over a wide variety of behaviours is maintained through legal control, mostly invisibly. Even the United States, one of the most (formally) litigious countries in the...

  7. 3 Explaining Childrenʹs Outcomes in the Context of Their Families
    (pp. 44-76)

    The legal framework which produced the results from the previous chapter is premised on a search for the best interests of the child. Since those results are very strongly correlated with gender, I will review what various theoretical perspectives claimarein childrenʹs best interests to see the weight given to gender – or characteristics strongly associated with gender – as a criterion for custody, along with other factors that stakeholders in the custody decision-making process deem appropriate to use in making their decisions. By stakeholders, I mean professionals that affect the custody decision-making process, such as judges, lawyers, and...

  8. 4 An Empirical Assessment of the Determinants of Childrenʹs Outcomes
    (pp. 77-93)

    Thus far I have reviewed the theoretical perspectives pertaining to the predictors of childrenʹs outcomes, and outlined the development of certain measures that were an important precursor to the ability to conduct an empirical test of the theoretical model proposed above. I now turn to a review of the theoretical model, data, and methods involved in the conducting of this empirical test.

    The analysis undertaken here will employ a model designed to answer questions about the causal mechanisms related to the production of childrenʹs outcomes through parenting practices, as well as the role of parental, family, and child characteristics in...

  9. 5 The Effect of Child Support on Household Income
    (pp. 94-108)

    Perhaps few issues that routinely arise in family law bear the emotionally laden overtones associated with child support. The last chapter focused on the causes of childrenʹs outcomes in the hope of providing some elucidation of what empirically represents the best interests of children. Household income was found to affect childrenʹs outcomes, both directly and indirectly, although the impact of income is considerably less than that of parenting. Moreover, most of the effect of income is through the logarithm of household income, meaning that household income must increase tenfold to attain the indicated effect. Thus, the effect of income –...

  10. 6 Conclusions
    (pp. 109-122)

    This book pulls together several disparate analyses in order to research the area of family law to see if it lives up to its claim of acting in the best interests of children. This approach is not unprecedented: such a bricolage of investigations has been put to good effect in such works asStreet Corner Society(Whyte 1993[1943]), where separate inquiries into different aspects of a community are assembled in order to give a composite picture of an aspect of society. That is the approach taken here. This approach was necessary because a single dataset was not available that would...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 123-126)
  12. References
    (pp. 127-136)
  13. Index
    (pp. 137-139)