Charlotte’s doctoral thesis explored how civil partnerships and same-sex marriage can help to challenge social and legal constructions about the gendered nature of roles in relationships. More specifically, it looked at how legal professionals negotiate gender in their interactions with their lesbian and gay clients in the context of financial relief on relationship breakdown, and whether they have attempted to apply the traditional norms of masculinity and femininity (i.e. breadwinning versus homemaking) to this new scenario. It additionally examined the conceptions of equality applied, particularly concerning the stress that has been placed on sameness between same- and different-sex relationships, and asked how reflective lesbians and gay clients perceive such claims to be of the way that they conduct their relationships in reality.
Charlotte has recently commenced work on a new project, funded through the Socio-legal Studies Association’s Research Grant scheme, comparing the legal approach to financial relief against the financial practices of modern day couples ‘on the ground’. The research aims to explore both the ways in which money is being held physically (i.e. individually or as a couple), and the partners’ perceptions of that money. This is to ensure that family law reflects the society within which is operates, and that it takes into account new ways of living.