Natural mothers, putative fathers, and innocent children: The definition and regulation of parental relationships outside marriage, in England, 1945-1959

Janet Fink

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This article investigates how, during the 1950s, English legislative reform relating to the issues of affiliation, adoption, and legitimacy was influential in redefining the rights and responsibilities of parental relationships that lay outside and across the boundaries of marriage. The problems and debates that arose from the implementation of these reforms are used to illustrate the centrality that the ideals of monogamous marriage and the nuclear family had in the conceptualization of such relationships. They are also drawn upon to demonstrate the contradictions and paradoxes that arose from attempts to define the meaning of parenthood for mothers and fathers not attached through a marital relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-195
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Family History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2000


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