Feminist Legal Studies

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 303–310 | Cite as

A Break Away from the (Hetero)norm?: Lawrence v Gallagher [2012] 1 FCR 557; [2012] EWCA Civ 394

  • Charlotte Bendall
Case Notes


In Lawrence v Gallagher, the issue as to what constitutes an equitable division of assets in the event of civil partnership dissolution arose for the first time. It had been hoped that the case would mark a break away from the heavy reliance upon heteronormativity that had been characteristic of the previous ancillary relief case law. However, it is argued here that what we see within the judgment is the Court of Appeal presenting the problem (and, so, the parties) in Lawrence so as to ‘fit’ within the pre-existing framework. Even at this early stage, it seems that legal actors are approaching civil partnerships on the basis of gendered assumptions and expectations. There is a need to raise awareness of this inability to get past ideas about heteronormativity, and to highlight their possible incompatibility with the lives of lesbian and gay couples, before their radical potential is lost.


Ancillary relief Civil partnership Equality Heteronormativity 



Thanks to Rosie Harding and the anonymous reviewer for their comments on earlier drafts of this case note.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Student at Birmingham Law SchoolUniversity of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK

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