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  4. POSTPONED: Rethinking the Grounds for Divorce: Comparative Perspectives from the UK, the US, Canada and Australia Conference




POSTPONED: Rethinking the Grounds for Divorce: Comparative Perspectives from the UK, the US, Canada and Australia Conference




Unfortunately, this event has been postponed. We will be in touch with details regarding a rescheduled date.

The UK Government’s recent consultation “Reducing Family Conflict: reform of the legal requirements for divorce”, following the 2018 Supreme Court decision in Owens v Owens, called into question the adequacy of fault or lengthy separation as sole basis for divorce where the other spouse refuses to consent. The summary of responses, published in April 2019, indicated extensive support for reform, but also concerns about divorce rates and the stability of marriage. The ongoing debate on divorce law raises significant issues about the institution of marriage and the State’s interest in the dissolution of private relationships. It invites reflection on the current near bar on unilateral termination of marital ties in the absence of misconduct, but also on any risks triggered by the solution contemplated in the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill 2019-20.

This one-day conference will contribute to the reconsideration of English divorce law by providing a comparison with the US, Canada and Australia, which appear to have moved towards eliminating the requirement to demonstrate fault and shorter waiting periods. The event seeks to evaluate the UK’s isolated position and find a model of validation for the newly proposed divorce regime through the analysis of the most closely related jurisdictions. Taking stock of the experience of societies having faced the same domestic debates, it will generate predictions on the impact of the planned divorce reform in the UK. At the same time, it will analyse the different prompts and processes for legislative reform in these four jurisdictions in order to understand the shaping of family law institutions in their social and legal context.

The event convenes family law experts from the UK, the US, Canada and Australia, and is organised by The City Law School with financial support from the Society of Legal Scholars’ Small Projects and Events Fund.

10:00 - 10:30Welcome and Coffee (Room C307)
10:30 - 10:40Introduction: From Indissolubility of Marriage to “Divorce on Demand”
Dr. Carmen Draghici (City, University of London, UK)
10:40 - 11:25The UK’s Slow Path to Reforming Divorce Legislation
Dr. Carmen Draghici (City, University of London, UK)
11:25 - 12:10From No-Way-Out to No-Fault: Developments in U.S. Divorce Law in the 21st Century
Prof. Ann Cammett (City University of New York, USA)
12:10 - 12:30Panel and floor discussion
12:30 - 13:30Lunch Break (Room C307)
13:30 - 14:15Breakdown of Marriage: Unpacking the Grounds for Divorce in Canada  
Prof. Jodi Lazare (Dalhousie University, Canada)
14:15 - 15:00Considering the Broader Implications of the Law of Termination of Domestic Partnerships: Lessons from Australia
Prof. Lisa Young (Murdoch University, Australia)
15:00 - 15:30Panel and floor discussion
15:30Coffee and Close of Event (Room C307)

About the speakers:

Dr. Carmen Draghici is Reader in Law at City, University of London, specialising in family law and human rights, and the Law School’s Academic Visitor Programme Director. She is also an Academic Fellow of the Inner Temple and a member of the practice-oriented Centre for Child and Family Law Reform (since 2010). She was formerly a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program (2015) and a Visiting Research Scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University (2012). Her recent publications include: The Legitimacy of Family Rights in Strasbourg Case Law: ‘Living Instrument’ or Extinguished Sovereignty? (Hart, 2017); “Adult Children and Elderly Parents in Strasbourg Proceedings: A Misconstrued Approach to ‘Family Life’” (2018) International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 42; “Equal Marriage, Unequal Civil Partnership: A Bizarre Case of Discrimination in Europe” (2017) Child and Family Law Quarterly 313.

Prof. Ann Cammett from City University of New York School of Law is Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and former Director of the School’s Family Law Practice Clinic. She is also an appointed member of the New York Family Court’s Assigned Counsel Advisory Committee. Prior to joining CUNY, she was Associate Professor of Law at University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she founded and co-directed the Family Justice Clinic. Professor Cammett’s scholarly work focuses on intersectional legal issues of race, gender, poverty, mass criminalization and the family. Recent titles include: “Reflections on the Challenge of Inez Moore: Family Integrity in the Wake of Mass Incarceration, Moore Kinship Symposium, (2017) 85 Fordham Law Review 2579; “Welfare Queens Redux: Criminalizing Black Mothers in the Age of Neoliberalism”, (2016) 25 Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 363.

Prof. Jodi Lazare from the Schulich Law School at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is an assistant professor specialising in family law both as a teaching area and research interest. Her doctoral dissertation, titled “Judicial Reliance on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: Spousal Support and Soft Law across Canadian Jurisdictions”, includes an analysis of the financial consequences of Canada’s no-fault divorce regime. Further recent research includes “The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, Soft Law, and the Procedural Rule of Law” (2019) 31:2 Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 317 and “Spousal Support in Quebec: Resisting the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines” (2018) 59:4 Cahiers de droit 929.

Prof. Lisa Young from Murdoch School of Law and Criminology, Murdoch University, in Perth, Western Australia, is an experienced family law academic and practitioner, lead author of a significant book in her field, Family Law in Australia (9th ed., LexisNexis, 2016), former Editor of the Australian Journal of Family Law, Child Support Senior Case Officer and Chair of the State government’s Care Plan Review Panel. She has published widely on various aspects of family law, such as parenting disputes, property matters, maintenance and child support, family violence; her work on divorce includes “Separation: Must a spouse or de facto partner communicate their intention to end the consortium vitae?” (with Jenna Hampton) (2019) 32 Australian Journal of Family Law 250; “Australia: New Frontiers for Family Law”, International Society of Family Lawyers Review (Jordan Publishing, 2013).

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When and where

10.00am - 4.00pmTuesday 19th May 2020

C308 Tait Building City, University of London Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB United Kingdom

Contact Details

City Events Team

+44 (0)20 7040 8037

Contact the organiser