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As women achieve greater economic independence and the traditional family continues to decline, the number of women who choose to become single mothers has grown. While the emergence of single mothers by choice (SMCs) suggests that societal acceptance of autonomous motherhood may be on the rise, at least in circumstances where the woman is older, educated and financially stable, the law has been far less receptive. In the few cases in which SMCs have sought to assert their autonomy through the courts, they have met with significant resistance. Reflecting the current trends in family law towards shared parenting and fathers’ rights, courts have strongly opposed attempts by mothers to exclude ‘fathers’, whether biological or social, from the lives of children. This article explores the legal and social issues raised by single mothering by choice, focusing specifically on the response of Canadian courts to SMCs who have asserted their right to parent autonomously from a partner.
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