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Neoliberalism, family law and the devaluation of care

Heenan, Anna ORCID: 2021. Neoliberalism, family law and the devaluation of care. Journal of Law and Society 48 (3) , pp. 386-409. 10.1111/jols.12308

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There is a conflict at the heart of family law between neoliberal ideas of autonomy, which increasingly influence law and policy, and the lived realities of family law's subjects. Neoliberal norms, which assume individual responsibility, financial independence, and freedom of choice, do not reflect the nature of decision making in intact families or the consequences of those decisions on separation; separation raises multiple intersecting legal issues, including financial and child arrangements, providing an important lens for family law more widely. Drawing on the findings of original empirical research with separated parents, this article explores three key assumptions of individuals in the neoliberal paradigm: that they have equal bargaining power, behave economically rationally, and have freedom of choice. Not only do all three assumptions fail to capture the realities of separating parents’ lives, but they actively cause harm in the family law context by devaluing care.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0263-323X
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 April 2021
Date of Acceptance: 20 March 2021
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 02:48

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