Legal Forms, Family Forms, Gendered Norms: What is a Spouse?

Shelley A.M. Gavigan
1999 Canadian Journal of Law and Society / Revue Canadienne Droit et Société  
AbstractThe limits of the normative nature of law may be illustrated in the current English Canadian context by apparently contradictory phenomena: legal defeats of welfare mothers (e.g.MasseandFalkiner), and the legal victories of lesbian mothers (Re K). Drawing upon Fine, this paper employs the analytic frame of form and content to analyse contradictions within the legal form, notably in respect of the definition of spouse and the regulation of relations of property and poverty, and the
more » ... erty, and the struggles of lesbian parents who have applied to the courts to formalize their relationships to their children by way of adoption, and who, in so doing, have challenged the normative content of spousal relations. In analysing law as a gendering strategy, it is necessary to be mindful that law may not be the dominant site through and in which gender relations are constructed, regulated, reconstructed, or resisted. In this paper, the author examines and analyzes the contradictions in the legal form that have been mobilized, the 'stirring up' of the content that has been done, and the constraints and limits that shape the results.
doi:10.1017/s0829320100005962 fatcat:gzcwydhgnbhcplfl3mbjymoyim