My title for this paper is Negotiating Parenthood: Bargaining in the shadow of a new law, and the recent legislation to which I refer is the Children Act 1989 which was enacted in England and Wales in 1992. My interests are in the private law provisions of the Act and I first propose to discuss the background to the development of this legislation because this will provide the foundation for my later remarks based on an ongoing empirical research project. 1 The discussion in the second part of this paper will therefore be drawn from preliminary research findings based on interviews with divorced or separated parents, and in my conclusion I shall give some tentative consideration to issues of social (injustice.