Folktales of legality: Family law in the procedural republic the narrative structure of family law
This article explores the narrative structure offamily law where divorce is available on ground ofirretrievable breakdown following separation for oneyear. It argues that contemporary no-fault regimesexemplify law''s procedural republic, a space with itsown legal, ethical and political requirements whichhas little if any connection to the life-worlds of theparties. Through an analysis of intractable parentingdisputes it argues that the interaction of no-faultdivorce, the requirement to have regard to the bestinterests of the child and the principle that childrenhave a right to contact with both parents has led tothe creation of particular narrative forms. Thesenarrative forms are characterised by their absolutismand map the unresolved grievances surrounding maritalbreakdown onto parenting disputes where the statutoryrequirements map them onto particular narratives andcounter-narratives. In this process, the narrativesof expert witnesses play an increasingly prominentrole, as do the naﶥ narratives put forward bylitigants in person. The article argues that thesenarratives are, in important ways, fictions and thatthey are compelled by the procedural requirements ofno-fault divorce. It argues further that thesefictions are a consequence of the empty narrative spaceat the heart of family law.
Law and Critique