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date: 19 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter takes a broad view of the legal location of the family in the Canadian federation. We examine the interaction of the division of legislative powers—and its tension between uniformity and diversity—with other parts of our constitutional structure, such as Aboriginal rights and rights in the entrenched Charter. We look beyond formal constitutional text to consider the ways in which institutional structures and practices affect governance in this area. Sociologically, our chapter acknowledges the effect of overlapping legal traditions, two official languages, and the dramatic social changes that have driven recent reform of family law. What emerges is a complex picture of the regulatory framework that governs families. Elements of uniformity and diversity—within and outside our constitutional structure—coexist and interact in ways that defy easy categorization and offer insights for comparative constitutionalists more broadly.

Keywords: marriage, divorce, family law, federalism, division of powers, legal pluralism, uniformity

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