Canadian Journal of Family Law

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Family law in many countries has changed radically since the 1960s. However, despite family law’s central importance, few detailed quantitative analyses of the relationship between legal developments (landmark judgments and statutory changes) and the amount and subject of family litigation have been made. We examine this relationship using a unique dataset of citations among Canadian family law judgments from all levels of the court hierarchy. The network analysis draws attention to significant changes in law and legal practice over time. Not only did litigation increase overall, but the number of judgments involving multiple legal issues grew dramatically in the mid-1990s, signaling the increasing complexity of litigation surrounding family breakdowns. We probe this emergent co-occurrence of legal issues using citation network analysis and find clear links to the jurisprudential changes introduced through the landmark 1992 judgment Moge v Moge and the 1997 Federal Child Support Guidelines.