The Liberal Party of Canada recently introduced Bill C-78, which proposes a number of changes to Canada’s Divorce Act, including better addressing what is referred to as “family violence,” changes to terminology like “custody” and “access,” and encouraging parties to use family dispute mediation services as an alternative to court.
Divorce law has always had particular impacts on women, and though it has improved enormously in the past few decades, it remains important to consider the role power under patriarchy plays in divorce and custody battles.
In order to better understand the proposed changes and their potential impact on women, I spoke with Susan Boyd. Susan is a Professor Emerita at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, where she held the Chair in Feminist Legal Studies from 1992-2015. She was also Director of the Centre for Feminist Legal Studies for many years. Susan is a long-standing member of the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law and a board member of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). Her book, Child Custody, Law, and Women’s Work, remains one of the few feminist treatments of child custody law in Canada. Her latest co-authored book is Autonomous Motherhood? A Socio-Legal Study of Choice and Constraint. I spoke with her over the phone from her home in Vancouver.