Family Law in a Changing America


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Family Law in a Changing America is a new casebook that highlights law and family patterns as they are now, not as they were decades ago. By focusing on key changes in family life, the casebook attends to rising equality and inequality within and among families. The law, formally at least, accords more equality and autonomy than ever before, having repudiated hierarchies based on race, gender, and sexuality. Yet, as our society has grown more economically unequal, so too have family patterns diverged—with marriage and marital child-rearing becoming a mark of privilege. A number of developments—mass incarceration, the privatization of care, and reproductive technologies—have also contributed to disparities based on race, class, and gender. The casebook reflects the law’s continuing emphasis on marriage, but also treats nonmarital families as central. Rather than privilege the marital heterosexual family, the casebook organizes the presentation of the law around 1) adult relationships and 2) parent-child relationships.

Professors and students will benefit from:

  • Text that includes dramatic changes in family patterns in contemporary society, including: declining marriage rates, with differential rates based on race and class; increasing rates of nonmarital cohabitation and nonmarital parenting; the use of assisted reproduction and its challenge to biological understandings of parentage; tensions between women’s increasing education and employment and the perseverance of the gendered division of labor in families; the inclusion of same-sex couples in marriage and parenthood
  • An approach that decenters the marital heterosexual family and instead is structured around the general topics of adult relationships and parent-child relationships
  • Focus on the scope of family law, including extensive coverage of crucial sites of family regulation, such as the child welfare system, that are traditionally neglected
  • Emphasis on multiple modes of legal interpretation (common law, constitutional, statutory) and multiple actors in the legal system (judges, legislators, lawyers, experts, social workers)
  • Practical problems and exercises, often based on actual cases or events, that illuminate the gaps, tensions, and implications of existing doctrine; some of the problems include postscripts explaining how the issue was resolved by a court or legislature
  • An approach that draws on more recent cases and cutting-edge issues and that includes extensive coverage of assisted reproduction (including IVF, surrogacy, and gamete donation), parentage (including intentional parenthood, functional parenthood, and multi-parent arrangements), adoption, child welfare, and family support

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