The right to divorce is a symbol of individual liberty and gender equality under the law, but in practice it is anything but equitable. Family Law in Action reveals the class and gender inequalities embedded in the process of separation and its aftermath in Quebec and France. Drawing on empirical research conducted on their respective court and welfare systems, Emilie Biland analyzes how men and women in both places encounter the law and its representatives in ways that affect their personal and professional lives. While gender inequality is less pronounced in Quebec than in France, and class inequality is starker, in both national contexts inequalities after breakups are driven by the same three mechanisms: access to the law and justice, interactions with legal professionals, and the ways these two factors shape lifestyle and standard of living. Family Law in Action is a rigorous but compassionate study that encourages governments to make good on the emancipatory promise enshrined in divorce law.
1 Why the Liberalization of Divorce Leads to Unequal Access to Justice
2 How Gender and National Context Shape the Legal Profession
3 The Legal Encounter as a Situated Nexus of Power
4 How Family Justice Frames Unequal Parenthoods
5 Family Law and the Welfare State: Intertwining Economic Inequalities
Notes; References; Index
Emilie Biland is a professor of sociology at Sciences Po, Centre for the Sociology of Organisations, Institut Universitaire de France, in Paris, and an adjunct professor of political science at Université Laval. Since 2021, she has been the co-leader of the “Pandemic Experiences of Law and Justice: Family, Work and Public Space during the COVID-19 Crisis” project. Annelies Fryberger is a sociologist and translator, working mainly on evaluation processes, often in the field of music. Miranda Richmond Mouillot is an author, translator, and editor. Her translation of The Kites won a PEN/Heim Award.