28 JUN 2016
High conflict post-separation disputes involving family violence in a neoliberal context: British Columbia, Canada  CFLQ 111
Rachel Treloar, Interdisciplinary PhD candidate, c/o Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Keywords: Family violence - vulnerability - British Columbia Family Law Act - domestic violence policy - family law reform - neoliberalism
British Columbia's new Family Law Act (FLA) came into full effect in March 2013, following years of cutbacks to legal aid and to a broad range of services that support families. The Act explicitly promotes out-of-court dispute resolution, which shifts responsibility for resolving family disputes to individuals, regardless of the complexities involved. This article focuses on the Act's innovations regarding family violence, including a comprehensive definition of its many forms. In 2014 a new Provincial Domestic Violence Plan was announced, which included specific provisions for vulnerable groups. Thus, at the same time as a broader legal definition of family violence was enacted, the conception of who is vulnerable in the context of domestic violence policy was narrowed. This conceptual narrowing of identifiably vulnerable people within policy is increasingly common in neoliberal governance and tends to occur alongside reductions in resources. This plan, particularly as it intersects with British Columbia's FLA, raises important questions and creates new tensions. After exploring these tensions, the article concludes that although the Act contains many positive changes, those who must turn to law may now be more vulnerable, particularly where family violence is involved.
This article has been accepted for publication in Child and Family Law Quarterly in Issue 2, Vol 28, Year 2016. The final published version of this article will be published and made publicly available here 24 months after its publication date, under a CC-BY-NC licence.