front cover of Adultery
Adultery
Infidelity and the Law
Deborah L. Rhode
Harvard University Press, 2016

At a time when legal and social prohibitions on sexual relationships are declining, Americans are still nearly unanimous in their condemnation of adultery. Over 90 percent disapprove of cheating on a spouse. In her comprehensive account of the legal and social consequences of infidelity, Deborah Rhode explores why. She exposes the harms that criminalizing adultery inflicts, and she makes a compelling case for repealing adultery laws and prohibitions on polygamy.

In the twenty-two states where adultery is technically illegal although widely practiced, it can lead to civil lawsuits, job termination, and loss of child custody. It is routinely used to threaten and tarnish public officials and undermine military careers. And running through the history of anti-adultery legislation is a double standard that has repeatedly punished women more severely than men. An “unwritten law” allowing a man to avoid conviction for killing his wife’s lover remained common well into the twentieth century. Murder under these circumstances was considered an act of understandable passion.

Adultery has been called the most creative of sins, and novelists and popular media have lavished attention on sexual infidelity. As a focus of serious study, however, adultery has received short shrift. Rhode combines a comprehensive account of the legal and social consequences of adultery with a forceful argument for halting the state’s policing of fidelity.

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Assuring Child Support
An Extension of Social Security
Irwin Garfinkel
Russell Sage Foundation, 1992
In the United States, rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbirth are climbing so dramatically that over half of the next generation is likely to spend part of its childhood in single-mother families. As many as half of these families will live in poverty, caused in large measure by the failure of current government regulations to secure adequate child support from absent parents and to assure minimum support when parents cannot provide it. Assuring Child Support introduces the Child Support Assurance System, a remedy to this problem that is both feasible and affordable, a practical reform that is within the nation's grasp. "An extremely well-written and provocative book." —Eastern Economic Journal
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The Battle for Children
World War II, Youth Crime, and Juvenile Justice in Twentieth-Century France
Sarah Fishman
Harvard University Press, 2002

The Battle for Children links two major areas of historical inquiry: crime and delinquency with war and social change. In a study based on impressive archival research, Sarah Fishman reveals the impact of the Vichy regime on one of history’s most silent groups—children—and offers enlightening new information about the Vichy administration.

Fishman examines how French children experienced the events of war and the German occupation, demonstrating that economic deprivation, not family dislocation, sharply drove up juvenile crime rates. Wartime circumstances led authorities to view delinquent minors as victims, and provided the opportunity for reformers in psychiatry, social work, and law to fundamentally transform France’s punitive juvenile justice system into a profoundly therapeutic one. Vichy-era legislation thus formed the foundation of the modern juvenile justice system in France, which rarely incarcerates delinquent youth.

In her examination of the critical but unexpected role the war and the authoritarian Vichy regime played in the transformation of France’s juvenile courts and institutions, Fishman has enriched our knowledge of daily life in France during World War II, refined our understanding of Vichy’s place in the historical development of France, and provided valuable insights into contemporary debates on juvenile justice.

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Belonging in an Adopted World
Race, Identity, and Transnational Adoption
Barbara Yngvesson
University of Chicago Press, 2010

Since the early 1990s, transnational adoptions have increased at an astonishing rate, not only in the United States, but worldwide. In Belonging in an Adopted World, Barbara Yngvesson offers a penetrating exploration of the consequences and implications of this unprecedented movement of children, usually from poor nations to the affluent West. Yngvesson illuminates how the politics of adoption policy has profoundly affected the families, nations, and children involved in this new form of social and economic migration.

Starting from the transformation of the abandoned child into an adoptable resource for nations that give and receive children in adoption, this volume examines the ramifications of such gifts, especially for families created through adoption and later, the adopted adults themselves. Bolstered by an account of the author’s own experience as an adoptive parent, and fully attuned to the contradictions of race that shape our complex forms of family, Belonging in an Adopted World explores the fictions that sustain adoptive kinship, ultimately exposing the vulnerability and contingency behind all human identity.

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Butterfly, the Bride
Essays on Law, Narrative, and the Family
Carol Weisbrod
University of Michigan Press, 2004
Carol Weisbrod uses a variety of stories to raise important questions about how society, through law, defines relationships in the family. Beginning with a story most familiar from the opera Madame Butterfly, Weisbrod addresses issues such as marriage, divorce, parent-child relations and abuses, and non-marital intimate contact. Each chapter works with fiction or narratives inspired by biography or myth, ranging from the Book of Esther to the stories of Kafka. Weisbrod frames the book with running commentary on variations of the Madame Butterfly story, showing the ways in which fiction better expresses the complexities of intimate lives than does the language of the law.

Butterfly, the Bride looks at law from the outside, using narrative to provide a fresh perspective on the issues of law and social structure---and individual responses to law. This book thoroughly explores relationships between inner and public lives by examining what is ordinarily classified as the sphere of private life---the world of family relationships.
Carol Weisbrod is Ellen Ash Peters Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut. Her other books include The Boundaries of Utopia and Emblems of Pluralism.
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Contours of Change
Muslim Courts, Women, and Islamic Society in Colonial Bathurst, the Gambia, 1905-1965
Bala Saho
Michigan State University Press, 2018
Based on a previously unexamined body of qadi court records as well as two hundred oral interviews in Wolof and Mandinka, Contours of Change: Muslim Courts, Women, and Islamic Society in Colonial Bathurst, the Gambia, 1905–1965, offers a new perspective on the impact of British rule in West Africa. It focuses on the formation of present-day Banjul and the role of law, religion, and gender relations. Specifically, this volume explores how colonization affected the evolution of women’s understanding of the importance of law in securing their rights, and how urban women used the new qadi court system to fight for greater rights in the domestic sphere. The fascinating cases discussed in the text show that male Muslim judges often were sympathetic to women’s claims, and that, as a result, the qadi court created opportunities for women to acquire property rights and negotiate patriarchal relationships. Contours of Change sheds light on African subjectivities and the broader social, economic, and political changes taking place in colonial Gambian society during the first half of the twentieth century. This text breaks new ground in Senegambian history and makes a significant contribution to British colonial studies, African legal studies, Islam in Africa studies, and women’s history studies.
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Equal Before the Law
How Iowa Led Americans to Marriage Equality
Tom Witosky, Marc Hansen
University of Iowa Press, 2015
“We’ve been together in sickness and in health, through the death of his mother, through the adoption of our children, through four long years of this legal battle,” Jason Morgan told reporters of himself and his partner, Chuck Swaggerty. “And if being together through all of that isn’t love and commitment or isn’t family or isn’t marriage, then I don’t know what is.” Just minutes earlier on that day, April 3, 2009, the justices of the Iowa Supreme Court had agreed.

The court’s decision in Varnum v. Brien made Iowa only the third state in the nation to permit same-sex couples to wed—moderate, midwestern Iowa, years before such left-leaning coastal states as California and New York. And unlike the earlier decisions in Massachusetts and Connecticut, Varnum v. Brien was unanimous and unequivocal. It catalyzed the unprecedented and rapid shift in law and public opinion that continues today.

Equal Before the Law tells the stories behind this critical battle in the fight for marriage equality and traces the decision’s impact. The struggle began in 1998 with the easy passage of Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act and took a turn, surprising to many, in 2005, when six ordinary Iowa couples signed on to Lambda Legal’s suit against the law. Their triumph in 2009 sparked a conservative backlash against the supreme court justices, three of whom faced tough retention elections that fall.
Longtime, award-winning reporters Tom Witosky and Marc Hansen talked with and researched dozens of key figures, including opponent Bob Vander Plaats, proponents Janelle Rettig and Sharon Malheiro, attorneys Roger Kuhle, Dennis Johnson, and Camilla Taylor, and politicians Matt McCoy, Mary Lundby, and Tom Vilsack, who had to weigh their careers against their convictions. Justice Mark Cady, who wrote the decision, explains why the court had to rule in favor of the plaintiffs. At the center of the story are the six couples who sacrificed their privacy to demand public respect for their families.

Through these voices, Witosky and Hansen show that no one should have been surprised by the 2009 decision. Iowans have a long history of leadership on civil rights. Just a year after Iowa became a state, its citizens adopted as their motto the phrase, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.” And they still do today.
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Family, Law, and Community
Supporting the Covenant
Margaret F. Brinig
University of Chicago Press, 2010

In the wake of vast social and economic changes, the nuclear family has lost its dominance, both as an ideal and in practice. Some welcome this shift, while others see civilization itself in peril—but few move beyond ideology to develop a nuanced understanding of how families function in society. In this provocative book, Margaret F. Brinig draws on research from a variety of disciplines to offer a distinctive study of family dynamics and social policy.

Concentrating on legal reform, Brinig examines a range of subjects, including cohabitation, custody, grandparent visitation, and domestic violence. She concludes that conventional legal reforms and the social programs they engender ignore social capital: the trust and support given to families by a community. Traditional families generate much more social capital than nontraditional ones, Brinig concludes, which leads to clear rewards for the children. Firmly grounded in empirical research, Family, Law, and Community argues that family policy can only be effective if it is guided by an understanding of the importance of social capital and the advantages held by families that accrue it.

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Family Law Matters
Katherine O'Donovan
Pluto Press, 1993

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Family Law Reimagined
Jill Elaine Hasday
Harvard University Press, 2014

One of the law’s most important and far-reaching roles is to govern family life and family members. Family law decides who counts as kin, how family relationships are created and dissolved, and what legal rights and responsibilities come with marriage, parenthood, sibling ties, and other family bonds. Yet despite its significance, the field remains remarkably understudied and poorly understood both within and outside the legal community.

Family Law Reimagined is the first book to evaluate the canonical narratives, examples, and ideas that legal decisionmakers repeatedly invoke to explain family law and its governing principles. These stories contend that family law is exclusively local, that it repudiates market principles, that it has eradicated the imprint of common law doctrines which subordinated married women, that it is dominated by contract rules permitting individuals to structure their relationships as they choose, and that it consistently prioritizes children’s interests over parents’ rights. In this book, Jill Elaine Hasday reveals how family law’s canon misdescribes the reality of family law, misdirects attention away from the actual problems that family law confronts, and misshapes the policies that legal authorities pursue. She demonstrates how much of the “common sense” that decisionmakers expound about family law actually makes little sense.

Family Law Reimagined uncovers and critiques the family law canon and outlines a path to reform. Challenging conventional answers and asking questions that judges and lawmakers routinely overlook, it calls on us to reimagine family law.

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Fathers Under Fire
The Revolution in Child Support Enforcement
Irwin Garfinkel
Russell Sage Foundation, 1998
"This important and highly informative collection of studies on nonresidentfathers and child support should be of great value to scholars and policymakers alike." —American Journal of Sociology Over half of America's children will live apart from their fathers at some point as they grow up, many in the single-mother households that increasingly make up the nation's poor. Federal efforts to improve the collection of child support from fathers appear to have little effect on payments, and many critics have argued that forcing fathers to pay does more harm than good. Much of the uncertainty surrounding child support policies has stemmed from a lack of hard data on nonresident fathers. Fathers Under Fire presents the best available information on the financial and social circumstances of the men who are at the center of the debate. In this volume, social scientists and legal scholars explore the issues underlying the child support debate, chief among them on the potential repercussions of stronger enforcement. Who are nonresident fathers? This volume calls upon both empirical and theoretical data to describe them across a broad economic and social spectrum. Absentee fathers who do not pay child support are much more likely to be school dropouts and low earners than fathers who pay, and nonresident fathers altogether earn less than resident fathers. Fathers who start new families are not significantly less likely to support previous children. But can we predict what would happen if the government were to impose more rigorous child support laws? The data in this volume offer a clearer understanding of the potential benefits and risks of such policies. In contrast to some fears, stronger enforcement is unlikely to push fathers toward. But it does seem to have more of an effect on whether some fathers remarry and become responsible for new families. In these cases, how are subsequent children affected by a father's pre-existing obligations? Should such fathers be allowed to reduce their child support orders in order to provide for their current families? Should child support guidelines permit modifications in the event of a father's changed financial circumstances? Should government enforce a father's right to see his children as well as his obligation to pay support? What can be done to help under- or unemployed fathers meet their payments? This volume provides the information and insight to answer these questions. The need to help children and reduce the public costs of welfare programs is clear, but the process of achieving these goals is more complex. Fathers Under Fire offers an indispensable resource to those searching for effective and equitable solutions to the problems of child support.
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Gender and Justice in Family Law Disputes
Women, Mediation, and Religious Arbitration
Edited by Samia Bano
Brandeis University Press, 2017
Recently, new methods of dispute resolution in matters of family law—such as arbitration, mediation, and conciliation—have created new forms of legal culture that affect minority communities throughout the world. There are now multiple ways of obtaining restitution through nontraditional alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms. For some, the emergence of ADRs can be understood as part of a broader liberal response to the challenges presented by the settlement of migrant communities in Western liberal democracies. Questions of rights are framed as “multicultural challenges” that give rise to important issues relating to power, authority, agency, and choice. Underpinning these debates are questions about the doctrine and practice of secularism, citizenship, belonging, and identity. Gender and Justice in Family Law Disputes offers insights into how women’s autonomy and personal decision-making capabilities are expressed via multiple formal and nonformal dispute-resolution mechanisms, and as part of their social and legal lived realities. It analyzes the specific ways in which both mediation and religious arbitration take shape in contemporary and comparative family law across jurisdictions. Demarcating lines between contemporary family mediation and new forms of religious arbitration, Bano illuminates the complexities of these processes across multiple national contexts.
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Gender, Religion, and Family Law
Theorizing Conflicts between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions
Edited by Lisa Fishbayn Joffe and Sylvia Neil
Brandeis University Press, 2012
In many regions of the world, rights guaranteed under the civil law, including rights to gender equality within marriage and rights in the distribution of family property and child custody upon divorce, are in conflict with the principles of religious law. Women’s rights issues are often at the heart of these tensions, which present pressing challenges for theorists, lawyers, and policymakers. This anthology brings together leading scholars and activists doing innovative work in Jewish law, Muslim law, Christian law, and African customary law. Using examples drawn from a variety of nations and religions, they interrogate the utility of recent theoretical models for engaging with gender and multicultural conflicts, explore contextual differences, and analyze and celebrate stories of successful initiatives that have transformed legal and cultural norms to improve women’s lives.
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The Illusion of Equality
The Rhetoric and Reality of Divorce Reform
Martha Albertson Fineman
University of Chicago Press, 1991
How do "no-fault," "gender-neutral" divorce reforms actually harm the lives of women and children they are designed to protect? Focusing on the language and symbols of reform, Martha Fineman argues that by advocating measures based on equality of treatment rather than of outcome, liberal feminists disregarded the socioeconomic factors that simultaneously place women at a disadvantage in the market and favor their taking on primary domestic responsibilities. She traces in persuasive detail the detrimental effects of equality rhetoric in shaping divorce law — such as the legal separation of parents' and children's interests; equality replacing need as the prime criterion for settlements; and the increase of state intervention into family life. More than a critique, this book is an incisive argument for adopting outcome-oriented measures and a valuable overview of the pitfalls of uncritically implementing any rhetoric as social policy.
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Intimate Associations
The Law and Culture of American Families
J. Herbie DiFonzo and Ruth C. Stern
University of Michigan Press, 2013

The rise in divorce, cohabitation, single parenthood, and same-sex partnerships, along with an increase in surrogacy, adoption, and assisted reproductive technologies, has led to many diverse configurations of families, or intimate associations. J. Herbie DiFonzo and Ruth C. Stern chart these trends over the past several decades and investigate their social, legal, and economic implications.

Drawing upon a wealth of social science data, they show that, by a number of measures, children of married parents fare better than children in a household formed by cohabiting adults. This is not to condemn nontraditional families, but to point out that society and the law do not yet adequately provide for their needs. The authors applaud the ways in which courts and legislatures are beginning to replace rigid concepts of marriage and parenthood with the more flexible concept of “functional” family roles. In the conclusion, they call for a legal system that can adapt to the continually changing reality of family life.

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The Islamic Marriage Contract
Case Studies in Islamic Family Law
Asifa Quraishi
Harvard University Press, 2009
It is often said that marriage in Islamic law is a civil contract, not a sacrament. If this is so, this means that the marriage contract is largely governed by the same rules as other contracts, such as sale or hire. But at the same time marriage is a profound concern of the Islamic scriptures of Qur’an and Sunna, and thus at the very core of the law and morality of Islam and of the individual, familial, and social life of Muslims. This volume collects papers from many disciplines examining the Muslim marriage contract. Articles cover doctrines as to marriage contracts (e.g., may a wife stipulate monogamy?); historical instances (e.g., legal advice from thirteenth-century Spain); comparisons with Jewish and canon law; contemporary legal and social practice; and projects of activists for women worldwide. Demonstrating a new and powerful focus for comparative and historical inquiries into Islamic law and social practices, this book marks a fresh point of departure for the study of Muslim women.
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The Islamic Marriage Contract
Case Studies in Islamic Family Law
Asifa Quraishi
Harvard University Press, 2008

It is often said that marriage in Islamic law is a civil contract, not a sacrament. If this is so, this means that the marriage contract is largely governed by the same rules as other contracts, such as sale or hire. But at the same time marriage is a profound concern of the Islamic scriptures of Qur’an and Sunna, and thus at the very core of the law and morality of Islam and of the individual, familial, and social life of Muslims. This volume collects papers from many disciplines examining the Muslim marriage contract. Articles cover doctrines as to marriage contracts (e.g., may a wife stipulate monogamy?); historical instances (e.g., legal advice from thirteenth-century Spain); comparisons with Jewish and canon law; contemporary legal and social practice; and projects of activists for women worldwide.

Demonstrating a new and powerful focus for comparative and historical inquiries into Islamic law and social practices, this book marks a fresh point of departure for the study of Muslim women.

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Law Beyond the State
Pasts and Futures
Edited by Rainer Hofmann and Stefan Kadelbach
Campus Verlag, 2016
Law beyond the State brings together contributions by renowned experts on international and European Union law to celebrate the centennial of Goethe‒Universität Frankfurt. The essays explore Frankfurt’s contribution to the development of international law; the historical development of international law; how this form of law can be used as a tool to improve the world and create a better future for all; the essential relevance of the spiritual dimension of legal orders, including the European Union, to ensuring their values will be taken seriously; and the possibility, offered by the Internet, for all persons concerned with global lawmaking to participate effectively in relevant decision-making processes.
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Legalizing Plural Marriage
The Next Frontier in Family Law
Mark Goldfeder
Brandeis University Press, 2017
Polygamous marriages are currently recognized in nearly fifty countries worldwide. Although polygamy is technically illegal in the United States, it is practiced by members of some religious communities and a growing number of other “poly” groups. In the radically changing and increasingly multicultural world in which we live, the time has come to define polygamous marriage and address its legal feasibilities. Although Mark Goldfeder does not argue the right or wrong of plural marriage, he maintains that polygamy is the next step—after same-sex marriage—in the development of U.S. family law. Providing a road map to show how such legalization could be handled, he explores the legislative and administrative arguments which demonstrate that plural marriage is not as farfetched—or as far off—as we might think. Goldfeder argues not only that polygamy is in keeping with the legislative values and freedoms of the United States, but also that it would not be difficult to manage or administrate within our current legal system. His legal analysis is enriched throughout with examples of plural marriage in diverse cultural and historical contexts. Tackling the issue of polygamy in the United States from a legal perspective, this book will engage anyone interested in constitutional law, family law, or criminal law, along with sociologists and those who study gender and culture in modern times.
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Lost and Found
Locating Foundlings in the Early Modern World
Nicholas Terpstra
Harvard University Press
Florence’s foundling home of the Innocenti is often taken as a symbol of Renaissance creativity, innovation, and humanity. Its progressive approach to caring for abandoned children was matched by the iconic architectural form designed one of the period’s leading architects, Filippo Brunelleschi. Did reality match the reputation? The essays in Lost and Found explore new dimensions and contexts for foundling care at the Innocenti and use archival documents and digital tools to locate it architecturally, geographically, and socially. They ask questions that reframe the Ospedale degli Innocenti in different contexts and open paths for further research: Was Brunelleschi’s design a failure? How can digital tools recover the Innocenti’s lost spaces and extensive real estate holdings? What did the law say about foundlings and abandonment? What was it like to live in the Innocenti and in homes elsewhere? What roles did race and enslavement play in infant abandonment?
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Making Fathers Pay
The Enforcement of Child Support
David L. Chambers
University of Chicago Press, 1979
A couple with children divorce. A court orders the father to pay child support, but the father fails to pay. This pattern repeats itself thousands of times every year in nearly every American state.

Making Fathers Pay is David L. Chambers's study of the child-support collection process in Michigan, the state most successful in inducing fathers to pay. He begins by reporting the perilous financial problems of divorced mothers with children, problems faced even by mothers who work full time and receive child support. The study then examines the characteristics of fathers who do and do not pay support and the characteristics of collections systems that work.

Chambers's findings are based largely on records of fathers' support payments in twenty-eight Michigan counties, some of which jail hundreds of men for nonpayment every year. Chambers finds that in places well organized to collect support, jailing nonpayers seems to produce higher payments from men jailed and from men not jailed, but only at a high social cost. He also raises grave doubts about the fairness of the judicial process that leads to jail. While Chambers's total sample includes 12,000 men, he interweaves through his text moving interviews with members of one family caught in the painful predicaments that men, women, and children face upon separation.

To increase support for children at lower social costs, Chambers advocates a national system of compulsory deductions from the wages of non-custodial parents who earn more than enough for their own subsistence.

 
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Man and Wife in America
A History
Hendrik Hartog
Harvard University Press, 2002

In nineteenth-century America, the law insisted that marriage was a permanent relationship defined by the husband's authority and the wife's dependence. Yet at the same time the law created the means to escape that relationship. How was this possible? And how did wives and husbands experience marriage within that legal regime? These are the complexities that Hendrik Hartog plumbs in a study of the powers of law and its limits.

Exploring a century and a half of marriage through stories of struggle and conflict mined from case records, Hartog shatters the myth of a golden age of stable marriage. He describes the myriad ways the law shaped and defined marital relations and spousal identities, and how individuals manipulated and reshaped the rules of the American states to fit their needs. We witness a compelling cast of characters: wives who attempted to leave abusive husbands, women who manipulated their marital status for personal advantage, accidental and intentional bigamists, men who killed their wives' lovers, couples who insisted on divorce in a legal culture that denied them that right.

As we watch and listen to these men and women, enmeshed in law and escaping from marriages, we catch reflected images both of ourselves and our parents, of our desires and our anxieties about marriage. Hartog shows how our own conflicts and confusions about marital roles and identities are rooted in the history of marriage and the legal struggles that defined and transformed it.

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Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State
Israel's Civil War
Susan M. Weiss and Netty C. Gross-Horowitz
Brandeis University Press, 2012
Israel currently has two recognized systems of law operating side by side: civil and religious. Israeli religious courts possess the exclusive right to conduct and terminate marriages. There is no civil marriage or divorce in Israel, irrespective of one’s religious inclinations. All Muslims must marry and divorce in accordance with shariya laws, all Catholics in accordance with canon law, and all Jews in accordance with Torah law (halakha). The interpretation and implementation of Torah law is in the hands of the Orthodox religious establishment, the only stream of Judaism that enjoys legal recognition in Israel. The rabbinic courts strenuously oppose any changes to this so-called status quo arrangement between religious and secular authorities. In fact, religious courts in Israel are currently pressing for expanded jurisdiction beyond personal status, stressing their importance to Israel’s growing religious community. This book shows how religious courts, based on centuries-old patriarchal law, undermine the full civil and human rights of Jewish women in Israel. Making a broad argument for civil marriage and divorce in Israel, the authors also emphasize that religious marriages and divorces, when they do occur, must benefit from legislation that makes divorce easier to obtain. Making this issue their focal point, they speak to a larger question: Is Israel a democracy or a theocracy?
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Other People's Children
Child Protection in Modern America
Michael Grossberg
Harvard University Press

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The Place of Families
Fostering Capacity, Equality, and Responsibility
Linda C. McClain
Harvard University Press, 2006

In this bold new book, Linda McClain offers a liberal and feminist theory of the relationships between family life and politics--a topic dominated by conservative thinkers. McClain agrees that stable family lives are vital to forming persons into capable, responsible, self-governing citizens. But what are the public values at stake when we think about families, and what sorts of families should government recognize and promote?

Arguing that family life helps create the virtues and character required for citizenship, McClain shows that the connection between family self-government and democratic self-government does not require the deep-laid gender inequality that has historically accompanied it. Examining controversial issues in family law and policy--among them, the governmental promotion of heterosexual marriage and the denial of marriage to same-sex couples, the regulation of family life through welfare policy, and constitutional rights to reproductive freedom--McClain argues for a political theory of the family that embraces equality, defends rights as facilitating responsibility, and supports families in ways that respect men's and women's capacities for self-government.

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Polygamy in Primetime
Media, Gender, and Politics in Mormon Fundamentalism
Janet Bennion
Brandeis University Press, 2011
Recently, polygamy has become a “primetime” phenomenon. Television shows like Big Love and Sister Wives demonstrate the “progressive” side of polygamy, while horror stories from victims of abusive marriages offer less upbeat experiences among the adherents of the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church). Bennion, herself a product of Mormon polygamy, seeks to dispel the myths and misinformation that surround this topic. This study, based on seventeen years of ethnographic research among the Allred Group (Apostolic United Brethren) and on an analysis of recent blog journal entries written by a range of polygamous women, examines the variety and complexity of contemporary Mormon fundamentalist life in the Intermountain West. Although Bennion highlights problems associated with polygamy, including evidence that some forms are at high risk for father-child incest, she challenges the media-driven depiction of plural marriage as uniformly abusive and harmful to women. She shows how polygamist families can provide both economic security and social sustenance for some women, and how the authority of the husband can be undermined by the stresses of providing for multiple wives and children. Going beyond the media’s obsession with the sexual aspects of polygamous marriage, Bennion offers a rich description of familial, social, and legal contexts. Throughout, she makes the case for legalizing polygamy in order to allow greater visibility and regulation of the practice.
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Private Lives
Families, Individuals, and the Law
Lawrence M. Friedman
Harvard University Press, 2004

What is a family? Grandparents, mom, dad, and kids around a Thanksgiving turkey? An egg mother, a womb mother, a sperm donor, and their mutual child? Two gay men caring for their adopted son? In this provocative essay, a leading American legal historian argues that laws about family are increasingly laws about individuals and their right to make their own, sometimes contentious, choices.

Drawing on many revealing and sometimes colorful court cases of the past two centuries, Private Lives offers a lively short history of the complexities of family law and family life--including the tensions between the laws on the books and contemporary arrangements for marriage, divorce, adoption, and child rearing. Informal common-law marriage was once widely accepted as a means to regularize property arrangements, but it declined as the state asserted its authority to dictate who could marry and reproduce. In the twentieth century, state attempts to control private life were swept away, most famously in the creation of "no-fault" divorce, a system in which laws that made divorce nearly unattainable were circumvented.

Private life, the author argues, as a legitimate sphere, was once basically confined to life in nuclear families; but the modern law of "privacy" extends the accepted zone of intimate relations. The omnipresence of the media and our fascination with celebrity test the boundaries of public and private life. Meanwhile, laws about cohabitation and civil unions, among others, suggest that family and commitment, in their many forms, remain powerful ideals.

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The Public Family
Exploring Its Role In Democratic Societies
David J. Herring
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003

Those concerned with investigating the political functions of the family far too often identify only one: the production of “good democratic citizens.” As a result, public discussion of family law and policy has been confined to a narrow continuum that ignores the family's other, often subversive, political functions.

In The Public Family David Herring's goal is to create a new rhetoric that moves beyond the stalemate that often results from the war between advocates of parental rights and those of children's rights. This “rhetoric of associational respect” allows him to constructively address the role of rights and the limits of individualism in political and legal theory.

While acknowledging the family's importance in facilitating state functioning and power in a large, pluralistic democracy (the aforementioned production of good citizens), Herring fully explores the ways in which the family produces diversity and promotes tolerance. Unlike other works on the subject, which view the differences between individuals as constituting the central challenge for American society, Herring focuses on the importance of such differences. In doing so, he enriches and enlivens the often divisive public discussion of family law and policy.

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Rethinking Juvenile Justice
Elizabeth S. Scott and Laurence Steinberg
Harvard University Press, 2010

What should we do with teenagers who commit crimes? Are they children whose offenses are the result of immaturity and circumstances, or are they in fact criminals?

“Adult time for adult crime” has been the justice system’s mantra for the last twenty years. But locking up so many young people puts a strain on state budgets—and ironically, the evidence suggests it ultimately increases crime.

In this bold book, two leading scholars in law and adolescent development offer a comprehensive and pragmatic way forward. They argue that juvenile justice should be grounded in the best available psychological science, which shows that adolescence is a distinctive state of cognitive and emotional development. Although adolescents are not children, they are also not fully responsible adults.

Elizabeth Scott and Laurence Steinberg outline a new developmental model of juvenile justice that recognizes adolescents’ immaturity but also holds them accountable. Developmentally based laws and policies would make it possible for young people who have committed crimes to grow into responsible adults, rather than career criminals, and would lighten the present burden on the legal and prison systems. In the end, this model would better serve the interests of justice, and it would also be less wasteful of money and lives than the harsh and ineffective policies of the last generation.

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Silent Revolution
The Transformation of Divorce Law in the United States
Herbert Jacob
University of Chicago Press, 1988
Conflict and controversy usually accompany major social changes in America. Such issues as civil rights, abortion, and the proposed Equal Rights Amendment provoke strong and divisive reactions, attract extensive media coverage, and generate heated legislative debate. Some theorists even claim that only mobilization and publicity can stimulate significant legislative change. How is it possible, then, that a wholesale revamping of American divorce law occurred with scarcely a whisper of controversy and without any national debate? This is the central question posed—and authoritatively answered—in Herbert Jacob's Silent Revolution.

Since 1966, divorce laws in the United States have undergone a radical transformation. No-fault divorce is now universally available. Alimony functions simply as a brief transitional payment to help a dependent spouse become independent. Most states divide assets at divorce according to a community property scheme, and, whenever possible, many courts prefer to award custody of children to the mother and the father jointly.

These changes in policy represent a profound departure from traditional American values, and yet the legislation by which they were enacted was treated as a technical correction of minor problems. No-fault divorce, for example, was a response to the increasing number of fraudulent divorce petitions. Since couples were often forced to manufacture the evidence of guilt that many states required, and since judges frequently looked the other way, legal reformers sought no more than to bring divorce statutes into line with current practice.

On the basis of such observations, Jacob formulates a new theory of routine—as opposed to conflictual—policy-making processes. Many potentially controversial policies—divorce law reforms among them—pass unnoticed in America because legislators treat them as matters of routine. Jacob's is indeed the most plausible account of the enormous number and steady flow of policy decisions made by state legislatures. It also explains why no attention was paid to the effect divorce reform would have on divorced women and their children, a subject that has become increasingly controversial and that, consequently, is not likely to be handled by the routine policy-making process in the future.
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Some Reflections Upon Marriage
Mary Astell. Introduction by John A. Dussinger
University of Illinois Press, 2015
Published anonymously in 1700, Some Reflections upon Marriage lamented the inequities of the institution of marriage and reasoned against it with both traditional and innovative arguments. Mary Astell's tract, written in response to an infamous divorce case, forcefully argued against the grim but all-too-common prospect of a marriage of necessity to a man in search of power, money, or a trophy wife. Astell proposed education as the solution to women's second-class status, stating that knowledge alone could lead to a partnership based on friendship and respect. "Let us learn to pride ourselves in something more excellent than the invention of a fashion," she wrote, and her well-reasoned arguments soon won her a wide readership.
 
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Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously
Developmental Insights and System Challenges
Christopher J. Sullivan
Temple University Press, 2019

The juvenile justice system navigates a high degree of variation in youthful offenders. While professionals with insights about reform and adolescent development consider the risks, the needs, and the patterns of delinquency of youth, too little attention is paid to the responses and practicalities of a system that is both complex and limited in its resources. 

In his essential book, Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously, Christopher Sullivan systematically analyzes key facets of justice-involved youth populations and parses cases to better understand core developmental influences that affect delinquency. He takes a comprehensive look at aspects of the life-course affected by juvenile justice as well as at the juvenile justice system’s operations and its multifaceted mission of delivering both treatment and sanctions to a varied population of youths.

Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously first provides an overview of the youth who encounter the system, then describes its present operations and obstacles, synthesizes relevant developmental insights, and reviews current practices. Drawing on research, theory, and evidence regarding innovative policies, Sullivan offers a series of well-grounded recommendations that suggest how to potentially—and realistically—implement a more effective juvenile justice system that would benefit all.

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The Transformation of Family Law
State, Law, and Family in the United States and Western Europe
Mary Ann Glendon
University of Chicago Press, 1989
Mary Ann Glendon offers a comparative and historical analysis of rapid and profound changes in the legal system beginning in the 1960s in England, France, West Germany, Sweden, and the United States, while bringing new and insightful interpretation and critical thought to bear on the explosion of legislation in the last decade.

"Glendon is generally acknowledged to be the premier comparative law scholar in the area of family law. This volume, which offers an analytical survey of the changes in family law over the past twenty-five years, will burnish that reputation. Essential reading for anyone interested in evaluating the major changes that occurred in the law of the family. . . . [And] of serious interest to those in the social sciences as well."—James B. Boskey, Law Books in Review

"Poses important questions and supplies rich detail."—Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, Texas Law Review

"An impressive scholarly documentation of the legal changes that comprise the development of a conjugally-centered family system."—Debra Friedman, Contemporary Sociology

"She has painted a portrait of the family in which we recognize not only ourselves but also unremembered ideological forefathers. . . . It sends our thoughts out into unexpected adventures."—Inga Markovits, Michigan Law Review

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Translating the Ketubah
The Jewish Marriage Contract in America and England
Benjamin Steiner
University of Alabama Press, 2025

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Virginia Hasn't Always Been for Lovers
Interracial Marriage Bans and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving
Phyl Newbeck
Southern Illinois University Press, 2004

This landmark volume chronicles the history of laws banning interracial marriage in the United States with particular emphasis on the case of Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a black woman who were convicted by the state of Virginia of the crime of marrying across racial lines in the late 1950s. The Lovings were not activists, but their battle to live together as husband and wife in their home state instigated the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that antimiscegenation laws were unconstitutional, which ultimately resulted in the overturning of laws against interracial marriage that were still in effect in sixteen states by the late 1960s.

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What is Family Law?
A Genealogy
Janet Halley
Harvard University Press

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What's Wrong with Children's Rights
Martin Guggenheim
Harvard University Press, 2007

"Children's rights": the phrase has been a legal battle cry for twenty-five years. But as this provocative book by a nationally renowned expert on children's legal standing argues, it is neither possible nor desirable to isolate children from the interests of their parents, or those of society as a whole.

From foster care to adoption to visitation rights and beyond, Martin Guggenheim offers a trenchant analysis of the most significant debates in the children's rights movement, particularly those that treat children's interests as antagonistic to those of their parents. Guggenheim argues that "children's rights" can serve as a screen for the interests of adults, who may have more to gain than the children for whom they claim to speak. More important, this book suggests that children's interests are not the only ones or the primary ones to which adults should attend, and that a "best interests of the child" standard often fails as a meaningful test for determining how best to decide disputes about children.

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Women and the Law
Susan Atkins and Brenda Hoggett
University of London Press, 2018
Women and the Law is a pioneering study of the way in which the law has treated women – at work, in the family, in matters of sexuality and fertility, and in public life. It was first published in 1984 by Susan Atkins and Brenda Hoggett, then University teachers. The authors examine the origins of British law’s attitude to women, trace the development of the law and ways in which it reflects the influence of economic, social and political forces and the dominance of men. They illustrate the tendency, despite formal equality, for deep-rooted problems of encoded gender inequality to remain. Since 1984 the authors have achieved distinguished careers in law and public service. This 2018 Open Access edition provides a timely opportunity to revisit their ground-breaking analysis and reflect on how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same. 
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