Cover: Family Law in Action: Divorce and Inequality in Quebec and France, by Emilie Biland, translated by Annelies Fryberger and Miranda Richmond Mouillot. Illustration: Several marbles of various colours resting on top of horizontal lines.
320 pages, 6 x 9
8 tables
Release Date:01 Aug 2023
Release Date:01 Feb 2023
Release Date:01 Feb 2023
Release Date:01 Feb 2023

Family Law in Action

Divorce and Inequality in Quebec and France

SERIES: Law and Society
UBC Press

The right to divorce is a symbol of individual liberty and gender equality under the law, but in practice it is anything but equitable. Family Law in Action reveals the class and gender inequalities embedded in the process of separation and its aftermath in Quebec and France.

Drawing on empirical research conducted on their respective court and welfare systems, Emilie Biland analyzes how men and women in Quebec and France encounter the law and its representatives in ways that affect their personal and professional lives. While gender inequality is less pronounced in Quebec than in France, and class inequality is starker, in both national contexts inequalities after breakups are driven by the same three mechanisms: access to the law and justice, interactions with legal professionals, and the ways these two factors shape lifestyle and standard of living. Decades after the liberalization of divorce, this book unearths the legal precedents and machinations that continue to result in these striking inequalities.

Ultimately, Family Law in Action explores how judicial policies produce co-constructed relations of class, gender, age, and race in the wake of separation and divorce. A rigorous but compassionate study, this book encourages governments to make good on the emancipatory promise enshrined in divorce law.

This impressive study will appeal to a wide audience of scholars, students, and practitioners of family law, political science, and political economy; social and socio-legal scholars; sociologists of law; and family welfare and child development specialists.

Emilie Biland has done an exceptional job. This is a superb piece of comparative work. Robert Leckey, editor of After Legal Equality: Family, Sex, Kinship
Family Law in Action is of immediate and unique importance for policy development. I have been looking forward to this book! Mavis Maclean, founding director, Oxford Centre for Family Law and Policy
In Family Law in Action, Emilie Biland handles an impressive amount of data in a masterful way. It’s an important and original contribution to socio-legal scholarship in the field of family law. Michelle Cottier, Faculty of Law, University of Geneva

Emilie Biland is a professor of sociology at Sciences Po, Centre for the Sociology of Organisations, Institut Universitaire de France, in Paris, and an adjunct professor of political science at Université Laval. Since 2021, she has been the co-leader of the “Pandemic Experiences of Law and Justice: Family, Work and Public Space during the COVID-19 Crisis” project. Annelies Fryberger is a sociologist and translator, working mainly on evaluation processes, often in the field of music. Miranda Richmond Mouillot is an author, translator, and editor. Her translation of The Kites won a PEN/Heim Award.


1 Why the Liberalization of Divorce Leads to Unequal Access to Justice

2 How Gender and National Context Shape the Legal Profession

3 The Legal Encounter as a Situated Nexus of Power

4 How Family Justice Frames Unequal Parenthoods

5 Family Law and the Welfare State: Intertwining Economic Inequalities


Notes; References; Index

Find what you’re looking for...

Free shipping on online orders over $40

Stay Informed

Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.

Read past newsletters

Publishers Represented
UBC Press is the Canadian agent for several international publishers. Visit our Publishers Represented page to learn more.