Card image cap
Card image cap

Did They Have a Father? Paternity and Partnership in Cases of Neonaticide

Laurence Simmat-Durand

Research Framework: Cases of neonaticide, as described from the legal files, are seemingly exclusively perpetrated by the mother who, in turn, also faces the trial completely alone.

Objectives: This article assesses what is revealed by the partners of these mothers and their ‘attitudes’ about paternity and the way their relationship works as a couple.

Methodology: Using 2,306 press articles describing 357 suspected neonaticides in France from 1993 to 2012, we developed a thematic analysis for the descriptions of the fathers.

Results: Our analysis revealed three main trends: the men who conceived the children either were not considered to play a paternal role because they were deviated from their paternity (by the mothers or by the legal system), that they didn’t want to be the fathers, or that they wanted to be the fathers but were prevented from doing so by the mothers.

Conclusions: In contrast to the literature on parenthood, neonaticide cases present a stereotypical perspective in which mothers alone are responsible for wanting the child. During prosecution for neonaticide, the father’s role is consistently denied and refused, regardless their desire for the child.

Contribution: This article reviews the father’s existence in the context of the legal proceedings of the mothers using a corpus of press concerning 141 mothers who have been pursued on neonaticide.