Family Law

B608 is taught by S. Conrad, J. Madeira, A. Orenstein, S. Sanders, C. Stafford, D. Widiss

This course examines legal and policy issues that arise from the government s regulation of family and other intimate relationships. Topics to be covered include marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody and child welfare, family privacy, and assisted reproductive technology. The course is primarily doctrinal, intended to provide necessary grounding in principles and case law for students planning to do family law work as a primary concentration or part of a larger practice in any state. We ll also have some guest speakers practitioners and judges who can talk about how practice sometimes differs from theory.

Family law inevitably involves many policy choices and social dilemmas, and so along the way we will confront questions such as: How should we balance the need for fixed, predictable rules which reflect longstanding social norms, against the values of human autonomy and the need for flexibility to accommodate increasingly diverse family forms? Should government require employers to better accommodate their employees family and caregiving responsibilities? How has family law a traditional area of state regulation become increasingly subject to constitutional requirements of equal protection and due process? Should government privilege traditional family settings like marriage over other forms of caregiving and family arrangements? What is the significance of changing gender roles within marriage and society as a whole? What new challenges has family law had to confront as a result of same-sex couples raising children?

Grades will be based primarily on an open-book take-home final exam, though in-class participation will be taken into consideration as well.