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Columbia Law School

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Family Law

Articles 1 - 14 of 14

Full-Text Articles in Law

Conceptualizing Legal Childhood In The Twenty-First Century, Elizabeth S. Scott, Clare Huntington Jan 2019

Conceptualizing Legal Childhood In The Twenty-First Century, Elizabeth S. Scott, Clare Huntington

Faculty Scholarship

The law governing children is complex, sometimes appearing almost incoherent. The relatively simple framework established in the Progressive era, in which parents had primary authority over children, subject to limited state oversight, has broken down over the past few decades. Lawmakers started granting children some adult rights and privileges, raising questions about their traditional status as vulnerable, dependent, and legally incompetent beings. As children emerged as legal persons, children’s rights advocates challenged the rationale for parental authority, contending that robust parental rights often harm children. And a wave of punitive reforms in response to juvenile crime in the 1990s ...


Fiduciary Principles In Family Law, Elizabeth S. Scott, Ben Chen Jan 2018

Fiduciary Principles In Family Law, Elizabeth S. Scott, Ben Chen

Faculty Scholarship

Family members bear primary responsibility for the care of dependent and vulnerable individuals in our society, and therefore family relationships are infused with fiduciary obligation. Most importantly, the legal relationship between parents and their minor children is best understood as one that is regulated by fiduciary principles. Husbands and wives relate to one another as equals under contemporary law, but this relationship as well is subject to duties of care and loyalty when either spouse is in a condition of dependency. Finally, if an adult is severely intellectually disabled or becomes incapacitated and in need of a guardian, a family ...


From Contract To Status: Collaboration And The Evolution Of Novel Family Relationships, Elizabeth S. Scott, Robert E. Scott Jan 2014

From Contract To Status: Collaboration And The Evolution Of Novel Family Relationships, Elizabeth S. Scott, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

The past decade has witnessed a dramatic change in public attitudes and legal status for same-sex couples who wish to marry. These events demonstrate that the legal conception of the family is no longer limited to traditional marriage. They also raise the possibility that other relationships – cohabiting couples and their children, voluntary kin groups, multigenerational groups and polygamists – might gain legal recognition as families. This Article probes the challenges faced by aspiring families and the means by which they could attain their goal. It builds on the premise that the state remains committed to social welfare criteria for granting family ...


Children's Health In A Legal Framework, Elizabeth S. Scott, Clare Huntington Jan 2014

Children's Health In A Legal Framework, Elizabeth S. Scott, Clare Huntington

Faculty Scholarship

The interdisciplinary periodical Future of Children has dedicated an issue to children’s health policy. This contribution to the issue maps the legal landscape influencing policy choices. The authors demonstrate that in the U.S. legal system, parents have robust rights, grounded in the Constitution, to make decisions concerning their children’s health and medical treatment. Following from its commitment to parental rights, the system typically assumes the interests of parents and children are aligned, even when that assumption seems questionable. Thus, for example, parents who would limit their children’s access to health care on the basis of the ...


Marriage At The Crossroads: Law, Policy, And The Brave New World Of Twenty-First-Century Families, Marsha Garrison, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2012

Marriage At The Crossroads: Law, Policy, And The Brave New World Of Twenty-First-Century Families, Marsha Garrison, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This post includes the table of contents, introduction and our comment as the editors of an interdisciplinary volume that explores the implications for law and policy of changes in marriage and family over the past half century. The volume includes chapters by leading social science researchers and family law scholars whose work focuses on these matters. The book captures the complexity of debates about the regulation of marriage and families and the best policy paths forward, through contributions by authors with widely varying perspectives. But it also aims to inform these debates by situating them in a framework grounded in ...


Pregnant Man?: A Conversation, Darren Rosenblum, Noa Ben-Asher, Mary Anne Case, Elizabeth F. Emens Jan 2010

Pregnant Man?: A Conversation, Darren Rosenblum, Noa Ben-Asher, Mary Anne Case, Elizabeth F. Emens

Faculty Scholarship

This Essay includes a first-person narrative of having a child through surrogacy, responses to that narrative by other law professors and the surrogate, and a concluding response and epilogue by the Author.


Legal Accountability In The Service-Based Welfare State: Lessons From Child Welfare Reform, Kathleen G. Noonan, Charles F. Sabel, William H. Simon Jan 2008

Legal Accountability In The Service-Based Welfare State: Lessons From Child Welfare Reform, Kathleen G. Noonan, Charles F. Sabel, William H. Simon

Faculty Scholarship

Current trends intensify the longstanding problem of how the rule-of-law should be institutionalized in the welfare state. Welfare programs are being re-designed to increase their capacities to adapt to rapidly changing conditions and to tailor their responses to diverse clienteles. These developments challenge the understanding of legal accountability developed in the Warren Court era. This Article reports on an emerging model of accountable administration that strives to reconcile programmatic flexibility with rule-of-law values. The model has been developed in the reform of state child protective services systems, but it has potentially broad application to public law. It also has novel ...


Infant Safe Haven Laws: Legislating In The Culture Of Life, Carol Sanger Jan 2006

Infant Safe Haven Laws: Legislating In The Culture Of Life, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

This Article analyzes the politics, implementation, and influence of Infant Safe Haven laws. These laws, enacted across the states in the early 2000s in response to much-publicized discoveries of dead and abandoned infants, provide for the legal abandonment of newborns. They offer new mothers immunity and anonymity in exchange for leaving their babies at designated Safe Havens. Yet despite widespread enactment, the laws have had relatively little impact on the phenomenon of infant abandonment. This Article explains why this is so, focusing particularly on a disconnect between the legislative scheme and the characteristics of neonaticidal mothers that makes the use ...


Marriage, Cohabitation, And Collective Responsibility For Dependency, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2004

Marriage, Cohabitation, And Collective Responsibility For Dependency, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Recently, the privileged legal status of marriage has become the subject of political and academic controversy. Some feminist critics argue that marriage, the source of women's subordination, is outmoded as a family form and that its privileged status should be abolished. Others argue that informal cohabitation unions should be subject to the same legal treatment as marriage. Representative of this approach is a recent A.L.I. proposal that creates a domestic partnership status for cohabiting couples. On the other side of the debate, most defenders of marriage tend to be religious and social conservatives who favor traditional marriage ...


Placing The Adoptive Self, Carol Sanger Jan 2003

Placing The Adoptive Self, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

[A]doption law and practices are guided by enormous cultural changes in the composition and the meaning of family. As families become increasingly blended outside the context of adoption – with combinations of blood relatives, step-relatives, de facto relatives, and ex-relatives sitting down together for Thanksgiving dinner as a matter of course – birth families and adoptive families knowing one another may not seem so very strange or threatening at all. There will simply be an expectation across communities that ordinary families will be mixed and multiple. With that in mind, we should hesitate before establishing embeddedness as the source of mother ...


(Baby) M Is For The Many Things: Why I Start With Baby M, Carol Sanger Jan 2000

(Baby) M Is For The Many Things: Why I Start With Baby M, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

For several years now I have begun my first-year contracts course with the 1988 New Jersey Supreme Court case In the Matter of Baby M. In this essay, I want to explain why. I offer the explanation in the spirit of modest proselytizing, recognizing that many of us already have a favored method or manner into the course: some introductory questions we pose before leaping into (or over) the introductions already provided by the editors of the many excellent casebooks available. But I have found that Baby M works extremely well in ways that others may want to consider. It ...


Separating From Children, Carol Sanger Jan 1996

Separating From Children, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

In this article I want to challenge the existing rules of maternal engagement and reconsider how we think about separations between mothers and their children as a matter of cultural inquiry and as a matter of law. Specifically, I examine the ways in which law regulates this complex but not uncommon aspect of motherhood and compare legal assessments about maternal decisions to separate from children with the judgments of mothers themselves. My argument is that the present scheme of regulation sustains social understandings regarding mother-child separations with little attention to the circumstances of mothers' lives that prompt their decisions to ...


M Is For The Many Things, Carol Sanger Jan 1992

M Is For The Many Things, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

My basic argument is this: Motherhood is a central but confusing icon within our social structure. It is at once domination and dominated, much as mothers are both revered and regulated. The reverence and regulation are not so much in conflict as in league. The rules remind women of how to behave in order to stay revered. This reverence is something more than a fan club for mothers. It matters in such practical and concrete ways as keeping one's children, having credibility in court, getting promoted at work, and so on.


Immigration Reform And Control Of The Undocumented Family, Carol Sanger Jan 1987

Immigration Reform And Control Of The Undocumented Family, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), Congress' attempt to clean up the problem of illegal immigration in the United States, puts a great number of undocumented alien families, mostly Mexican, to a hard test. Under IRCA's amnesty provisions, every alien must individually meet the eligibility requirements, such as having lived in the United States since before January 1, 1982. But many aliens who satisfy those requirements have spouses or children who do not. Thus while eligible aliens may adjust to a legal immigration status, their ineligible family members must either leave the United States or remain ...