Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Gender (in)equality and the negotiation of divorce agreements

Insights from an ongoing socio-legal research project in Switzerland

WZB Talk by Michelle Cottier - Online Event


In Switzerland, the predominant family arrangement of different-sex parents is a gendered division of tasks. The majority of couples adopt the model of the father as breadwinner and the mother working parttime in the labour market. This ongoing socio-legal research project is interested in the reorganisation of family arrangements at the moment of divorce and more specifically in how different concepts of gender (in)equality play out in the negotiation of divorce agreements in Switzerland.

In the negotiation process, gender norms and attitudes towards gender equality may be active on three levels: firstly, written law (legislation, case law, legal writing) gives guidelines on the legal aspects that need to be settled in a divorce and thereby follows a certain conception of gender equality. Secondly, gender shapes professional practices: divorce lawyers have different professional styles and hold different attitudes towards post-divorce gender relations and they can be expected to interpret written law in a way that is consistent with their attitudes. Thirdly, divorcees’ personal life trajectories result from particular conceptions of gender relations. In order to study these dimensions, the project follows a sequential explanatory design and encompasses (1) an analysis of written law;
(2) a survey aimed at divorce lawyers; and (3) qualitative interviews with lawyers and divorcees.

Link to the research project: https://www.unige.ch/droit/fnsdivorce/en

Michelle Cottier is Professor of private law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva. Her fields of specialization include Swiss and comparative family law, sociology of law, interdisciplinarity in law, and the study of gender, sexuality and law.


Please note that this event takes place in English only with no translation.

The event will not be recorded.

The event is part of the WZB Talks series.