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Friday, 2 February 2024

Autonomy, Care and Family LawHart Publishing, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, has published Autonomy, Care and Family Law by Anna Heenan.

There is a tension at the heart of family law and policy between the increasing influence of individual autonomy and the demands of caring for children. Individual autonomy envisages decisions made in one's own best interests, whereas decisions around care are often made for the good of the family, and may conflict with the caregiver's individual interests. Whereas individual autonomy valorises economic self-sufficiency, caregiving responsibilities constrain choice and conflict with paid work. This book explores this tension to consider how, given changing social trends, family law and policy should take account of caregiving responsibilities on parental separation. Crucially, it suggests that we need to rethink family law by placing care at its centre.

This book draws on original empirical data to explore the experiences of parents in England and Wales, where the division of paid work and care is considered a choice, and Sweden, where parents are encouraged to work full-time, supported by well funded state childcare. This comparative perspective sheds light on whether the clash between the ideas of autonomy and care could be reconciled in a more gender equal society.

The landmark cases tackled in this collection address significant issues in civil jurisdiction, governing law, foreign judgments, and public policy. The essays place those landmarks in their historical context, explain their contemporary importance, and consider their future relevance.

For more information about this book, please refer to the Bloomsbury website. Current University of Cambridge staff and student members can access the ebook via Bloomsbury Collections.

For information about other publications by Dr Heenan please refer to her Faculty profile.