Family Disputes in Times of Austerity: The Growth of Family and Children Legal Disputes in Portugal
On the other hand, the economic and financial crisis and austerity policies in Portugal contributed to the increase of unemployment, particularly unprotected unemployment, and underemployment situations. The “society of austerity” (Ferreira, 2012) is perceived as a generator of income inequalities through the exclusion of the labor market and of the social protection system (Carmo and Cantante, 2014). This implies a sharp impoverishment of the material and subjective conditions of individuals and families (idem).
In this communication we argue that this context of crisis and austerity contributes directly and indirectly to the increase of family disputes in the Portuguese family and children courts: namely it increases the judicial mobilization to solve child support payments disputes (reduction of the value and failure to pay) and to regulate parental responsibilities, in order to access social protection mechanisms. We will also analyze the responses of the Portuguese family and children courts to this family disputes, seeking to realize to what extent the judicial decisions may contribute or not to deepen the consequences of the crisis on families and to the feminization of poverty.