American Families and American Law

  • David M. Rosen


This chapter presents an overview of American family law. Obviously, there are many laws that affect family life, ranging from the laws governing inheritance and the intergenerational transfer of property to the laws of taxation and zoning. In addition, there are some aspects of family law that are of profound importance but that are really part of the criminal law, including laws dealing with the national problem of domestic violence and abuse, which affects both women and children. Through most of this century, however, family law has come to mean the civil laws governing the foundation and dissolution of family and kinship relationships and the legally imposed rights and duties that govern these relationships. These are the laws of marriage, divorce, custody, visitation, child support, paternity, and adoption. These areas of law are the focus of this chapter, although from time to time issues from other areas of the law necessarily enter the discussion.


Child Support Biological Parent Artificial Insemination Equitable Distribution Hague Convention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adoptions of B.L.V.B. and E.L.V.B., 169 Vt. 368 (1993).Google Scholar
  2. Alison D. v Virginia M., 77 N.Y.2d 651 (1991).Google Scholar
  3. Augustine C. u Michael B. 84 A.D.2d 740 (N.Y. App. Div., 1981 ). Baehr v. Lewin, 852 P.2d 44 (Haw. 1993).Google Scholar
  4. Baker v. Nelson, 291 Minn 310 (1971).Google Scholar
  5. Bartlett, K., & Stack, C. (1986). Joint custody, feminism, and the dependency dilemma. Berkeley Women’s Law Journal, 2, 941.Google Scholar
  6. Blackstone, W. (1899). Commentaries on the laws of England (additional commentaries by Thomas M. Cooley) ( 4th ed. ). Chicago: Calagan and Co.Google Scholar
  7. Bowers v. Hardwick, 487 U.S. 186 (1986).Google Scholar
  8. Braschi u Stahl Associates, 74 N.Y.2d 201 (1989).Google Scholar
  9. Burchad v. Garay, 724 P.2d 486 (Cal 1986 ).Google Scholar
  10. Caban v. Muhammed, 441 U.S. 380 (1979).Google Scholar
  11. Calvert v. Johnson, 5 Cal Rptr. 4th 88 (1993).Google Scholar
  12. Cherlin, A. (1992). Marriage, divorce, remarriage. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Child Support Orders Act, 108 Stat. 4064 (1994).Google Scholar
  14. Dean v District of Columbia, 653 A.2d 307 (D.C. 1995).Google Scholar
  15. Defense of Marriage Act 110 Stat. 2419 (1996).Google Scholar
  16. Dolgin, J. (1993). Just a gene: Judicial assumptions about parenthood. UCLA Law Review, 40, 637-642.Google Scholar
  17. Dolgin, J. (1994). The family in transition. From Griswold to Eisenstadt and beyond. Georgetown Law Review, 82, 1519-1571.Google Scholar
  18. Dolgin, J. (1995). Family law and the facts of family. In S. Yanagisako & C. Delany (Eds.), Naturalizing power (pp. X X ). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Eisenstadt v Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972).Google Scholar
  20. Emanual S. v. Joseph E., 161 A.D.2d 83 (N.Y. App. Div., 1990 ). Ettore I. v. Angela D., 127 A.D.2d 6 (N.Y. App. Div., 1987 ).Google Scholar
  21. Faludi, S. (1996). Statistically challenged. The Nation, 262, 10.Google Scholar
  22. Family Support Act, 102 Stat. 2743 (1988).Google Scholar
  23. Farber, B. (1966). Kinship and family organization. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  24. Felder, M. (1995, February 6 ). Visitation for grandparents and greatgrandparents. New York Law Journal, p. 3.Google Scholar
  25. Field, M. (1990). Surrogate motherhood. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Fineman, M. (1991). The illusion of inequality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  27. Fineman, M. (1995). The neutered mother, the sexual family. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. 420 East 80th Company u Chin, 97 A.D. 2d 390 ( N.Y. App. Div., 1983 ).Google Scholar
  29. Friedman, L. (1983). A history of American law. New York: Simon and Shuster.Google Scholar
  30. Friedman, L. (1993). Crime and punishment in American history. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  31. Galasso, P. (1994, April 29). Whose children are they anyway? New York Law Journal, p. 1.Google Scholar
  32. Geertz, C. (1983). Local knowledge. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  33. Glona v. American Guarantee Co., 391 U.S. 73 (1968).Google Scholar
  34. Greenhouse, C., Yngvesson, B., & Engle, D. (1994). Law & community in three American towns. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965).Google Scholar
  36. Gunther, G. (1972). Forward: A model for a new equal protection. Harvard Law Review, 86, 110.Google Scholar
  37. Gunther, G. (1980). Cases and material on constitutional law. New York: Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  38. Hakkila u Hakkila, 112 N.M. 172 (1991).Google Scholar
  39. Hoffman, S., & Duncan, J. (1988). What are the economic consequences of divorce? Demography, 25, 641 - 645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hoffman, S., & Holmes, J. (1976). Husbands, wives and divorce. In G. Duncan and J. Morgan (Eds.), Five thousand American families patterns of economics program (pp. 23–62 ). Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Sound Research.Google Scholar
  41. Horowitz, M. (1977). The transformation of American law. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  42. In the Matter of Baby M., 109 N.J. 396 (1988).Google Scholar
  43. In the Matter of Dana, 86 N.Y.2d 651 (N.Y. Ct. App., 1995).Google Scholar
  44. In the Matter of Jacob, 86 N.Y.2d 651 (N.Y. Ct. App., 1995). Ireland u Smith, 451 Mich. 457 (1996).Google Scholar
  45. Kandel, R. (1994). Which came first: The mother or the egg? A kinship situation in gestational surrogacy. Rutgers Law Review, 47, 165.Google Scholar
  46. Lehr v. Robinson, 463 U.S. 248 (1983).Google Scholar
  47. Levy a Louisiana, 39 U.S. 68 (1968).Google Scholar
  48. Lewin, E (1993). Lesbian mothers. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Loving v Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).Google Scholar
  50. Maccoby, E., & Mnookin, R. (1992). Dividing the child. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Main, H. (1963). Ancient law. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  52. Matter of Sharon GG v. Duane HH, 98 A.D.2d 466 ajf'd 63 NY 859 (1983). May, E. ( 1988 ). Homeward bound. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  53. Mercer County Department of Social Services v. Alf M., 155 Misc. 2d 703, 589 N.Y.S.2d 288 (1992).Google Scholar
  54. Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 10 (1989).Google Scholar
  55. Mnookin, R. H., & Kornhauser, L. (1979). Bargaining in the shadow of thelaw: The case of divorce. The Yale Law Journal, 88, 950–997.Google Scholar
  56. Model, J. (1994). Kinship with strangers. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  57. Moore v. City of East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494 (1977).Google Scholar
  58. Munsterman, X. (1990). A guide to child support payments guidelines, Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts.Google Scholar
  59. New Jersey Welfare Rights Organization v. Cahill, 411 U.S. 619 (1973).Google Scholar
  60. Okin, S. (1989). Justice, gender, and the family, New York: Basic Books. Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268 (1979).Google Scholar
  61. Parental Kidnapping Act, 94 Stat. 3568 (1980).Google Scholar
  62. People a Sorensen, 68 Cal. 2d 280, 437 P.2d. 465 (1968).Google Scholar
  63. Peterson, R. (1996a). A reevaluation of the economic consequences of divorce. American Sociological Review, 61, 528–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Peterson, R. (1996b). Statistical errors, faulty conclusions, misguided policy: Reply to Weitzman. American Sociological Review, 61, 539-549.Google Scholar
  65. Revised Uniform Reciprocal Support Act, 9B U.L.A. 381 (1968).Google Scholar
  66. Roe v Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).Google Scholar
  67. Romer v. Evans, 116 S. Ct 1620 (1996).Google Scholar
  68. Scheffler, H. (1991). Sexism and naturalism in the study of kinship. In M. di Leonardo (Ed.), Gender at the crossroads of knowledge (pp. 361–382 ). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  69. Shorter, E. (1975). The making of the American family. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  70. Stacey, J. (1990). Brave new families. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  71. Stack, C. ( 1974 ). All our kin. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  72. Stack, C. (1984). Cultural perspectives on child welfare. Review of Law and Social Change, 12, 539–547.Google Scholar
  73. Thomas S. v Robin Y., 618 N.Y.S. 356 (1994).Google Scholar
  74. Trautmann, T. (1987). Lewis Henry Morgan and the invention of kinship. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  75. Tribe, L. (1978). American constitutional law. Mineola, NY: Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  76. Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act.Google Scholar
  77. Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, 9B ULA Sections 101 905 (West Supp. 1996).Google Scholar
  78. Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act 9A U.L.A. 201 (1987 and West Supp. 1996).Google Scholar
  79. Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement Support Act, 9B ULA Section 553 (1958).Google Scholar
  80. Uniform Status of Children of Assisted Conception Act, 9B U.L.A. 163 (West Supp. 1994 ).Google Scholar
  81. United States Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U.S. 528 (1973). U.S. v Reynolds, 98 U.S. 145 (1878).Google Scholar
  82. Village of Belle Terre v Borass, 416 U.S. 1 (1974).Google Scholar
  83. Walzer, M. (1983). Spheres of justice. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  84. Weitzman, L. ( 1985 ). The divorce revolution. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  85. Weitzman, L. (1996). The economic consequences of divorce are still unequal. American Sociological Review, 61, 537–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Weston, K. (1991). Families we choose. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  87. Yorkshire House Associates v. Lulkin, 114 Misc 2d 40, 450 N.Y.2d 962 (1982).Google Scholar
  88. Zaretsky, E. (1976). Capitalism, the family, and personal life. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  89. Zeblock v. Redhail, 434, U.S. 374 (1978).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Rosen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Sciences and HistoryFairleigh Dickinson UniversityMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations