Journal Article

Setting a Standard or Reflecting Reality? The ‘Role’ of Divorce Law, and the Case of the Family Law Act 1996

Ezra Hasson

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 17, issue 3, pages 338-365
Published in print October 2003 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online October 2003 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/17.3.338
Setting a Standard or Reflecting Reality? The ‘Role’ of Divorce Law, and the Case of the Family Law Act 1996

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In January of 2001 the British Government announced its intention to repeal Part II of the Family Law Act 1996. Originally scheduled for implementation in 2000, the Act provided for several fundamental changes to English divorce law, including the removal of matrimonial fault from the divorce process. This no‐fault process was, however, situated within a piece of legislation that explicitly declared its support for marriage, and which imposed a framework of mechanisms designed to encourage couples to stay together. Drawing on a series of interviews conducted with key individuals active within the Family Law Act process, this paper examines this duality between supporting and ending marriage. In particular, the various connections drawn by policy‐makers between marriage and divorce law, and the ways in which those connections feed into competing constructions of the proper role for law, are explored. Additionally, and in view of the ultimate failure of the Act, this paper also goes on to suggest that a basic reorientation of policy is necessary if workable divorce law reform is to be achieved in the future.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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