Divorcing at the intersection of religious law and civil law: a training session by professor Fournier at the Canadian Bar Association

On 11 April 2017, Pascale Fournier, full professor of the Civil Law section of the University of Ottawa and Research Chair in Legal Pluralism and Comparative Law, will have the pleasure of being an invited lecturer of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA). Entitled “Divorcer au croisement du droit religieux et du droit civil : rencontres avec des femmes juives et musulmanes” (Divorcing at the Intersection of Religious Law and Civil Law: Discussions with Jewish and Muslim Women), professor Fournier’s training session is open to both CBA members and non-members.

Presided by Me Stéphane Pouliot of Pringle Avocats and President of the Family Law section of CBA-Quebec, the conference given by professor Fournier will examine the relationship between the State and religion, which must adapt to an evolving body of civil, legal, religious, social and cultural norms. These norms being specific to each country, it is possible to place States on a continuum opposing secularism and multiculturalism. Drawing on empirical research conducted in France, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom, this conference will explore the relationships that each of these countries maintain with religion in the context of religious divorce. Canadian multiculturalism, German integration philosophy, French secularism and British integration multiculturalism are the focus of this discussion.

Two debates are intimately related to this research: on one hand, the place of religion in a secular State, and on the other, the impact of religious and civil norms on gender equality. In this era of globalized ideas and borders, does religious divorce constitute a form of oppression of women that offends national public order, or is it rather an important practice for religious women’s identity? Does secular divorce adequately stay the preoccupations expressed by the States in relation to gender equality? Using an analysis of narratives from Jewish and Muslim women undergoing divorce, this presentation will conduct a cost-benefit analysis of divorce in religious and secular contexts. This examination of the secular/religious divide will enable participants to explore the concepts of hybridization (overlapping of religious and civil law at the time of divorce), interdisciplinarity (impact of social sciences on legal studies) and interjurisdictionality (impact of foreign law on national law).

On the same day, Professor Fournier had the pleasure of giving an interview to Michel C. Auger during the radio program Midi info. “Judges are compelled by our civil law regime to undertake a comparative law exercise and must decide wether to apply the Civil Code in conjunction with foreign rules or whether doing so violates the public order”. With this view, she underlines the necessity to provide training to judges on this social context in order to enable them to grasp this reality that is become increasingly common in Québec.

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Professor Fournier with Me Stéphane Pouliot of Pringle Avocats and President of the Family Law section of CBA-Quebec