Report No. 83
6.52. English law.-
Development in England relative to the question may be noted. In England, as far back as 1839, the mother was given a right to the custody of her own children till they were seven years of age.1 By subsequent legislation passed in the latter half of 19th century (Guardianship of Infants Act, 1886), she obtained the right to the custody till the children were sixteen years of age.
Section 1 of the Act of 1925 extended the provisions of the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1886 and laid down that the rights of the mother in the matter of custody, care, guardianship etc. of the children shall be equal to that of the father; and that the welfare of the child should be the first and paramount consideration.
It also provided that the Court shall not take into consideration whether, from any point of view other than the welfare of the infant, the claim of the father in respect of custody, upbringing etc. is superior to that of the mother or the claim of the mother is superior to that of the father. The Act of 1971 adopts the same principle. The Act of 1973 lays down complete equality of sexes as to matters concerning children.
1. See Appendix 3.