Dalhousie Law Journal


family, law, common law, Canada, property, inter-spousal support, Divorce Act, reform, women, legislation


This essay explores the paradox of family law reform in common law Canada, focusing particularly on reforms relating to family property and inter-spousal support in the decades after the first federal Divorce Act of 1968. The paradox of this law reform activity is well-expressed in Carol Smart's colourful phrase about the (lack of) impact of law reform for women in the United Kingdom. In her view, while it is inaccurate to say that nothing has been done to improve the position of women, it is equally impossible to demonstrate that there has been any linear development of progressive legislation; in such a context, Smart suggested that women have been "running hard to stand still."

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