A "divorce blueprint"? The use of heteronormative strategies in addressing financial remedies on same sex partnership dissolution

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Abstract

This article will explore data obtained through interviews with UK family law practitioners and clients with experience of financial relief on formalised same-sex relationship breakdown. It will focus on questions around how solicitors have approached and argued their dissolution cases (and the extent to which they have drawn upon heteronormative arguments and case law), and whether both they and the clients believed that civil partnerships are, and should be, treated similarly to marriages. The discussion will examine the different understandings of ‘equality’ employed, and interrogate the ways that the participants relied on ideas of sameness and difference. It will argue that the solicitors placed particular stress on sameness, and that heteronormative constructs of gendered inequalities have been transplanted into same-sex cases, in a system where practitioners’ submissions are based on ‘what works’. This is despite the fact that lesbian and gay couples do not map onto the ‘template’ under which the parties have been subjected to different gendered expectations. Conversely, the clients were less willing to take on the full legal implications associated with (heterosexual) marital breakdown, and less receptive of the solicitors ‘translating’ their matters to pigeonhole them into the existing framework.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-286
Number of pages20
JournalCanadian Journal of Law and Society
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016

Keywords

  • civil partnership
  • relationship breakdown
  • financial provision
  • equality
  • heteronormativity
  • legal practice

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