(Re)Defining Legal Parenthood and Kinship: The Limits of Legal Change in the Finnish Child Custody Act of 2019
This article examines how Finland took a role as an international predecessor in separating the parent’s right of access from custody, biology and legal parenthood. It addresses the (re)defining of the legal reference fields of kinship, family and parenthood in the process of rewriting the Act on Child Custody and Right of Access in Finland. Through an examination of the discourses of the legislative process, it shows how the Finnish legislation has moved from an emphasis on biological origins towards a more flexible and individualised conception of kinship. The analysis focuses on how the Child Custody Act works to recognise various marginalised positions, while leaving others unattended. Through a close examination of the changes to the Act, the article highlights the simultaneous processes of de-marginalisation of certain structures of kinship, and the marginalisation of others. The article concludes by predicting the direction of future developments in legislation concerning kinship, family and parenthood, based on prevalent trends of legal development, and the limits of what can presently be recognised by the law, and why.
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