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Reforming Paternity Law To Eliminate Gender, Status And Class Inequality, Leslie J. Harris Jan 2013

Reforming Paternity Law To Eliminate Gender, Status And Class Inequality, Leslie J. Harris

Leslie J. Harris

Today all states have paternity rules that protect a man’s intent to assume the role of father. All states have a version of the marital presumption and, for nonmarital children, all states allow the mother and the intended father to establish paternity by signing and filing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP). However, the law governing paternity disestablishment is much less protective of the legal paternity of men who may not be biological fathers, particularly where the father and mother are not married but instead have executed a VAP.

The disparate treatment of rights and duties in families based on …


Voluntary Acknowledgments Of Paternity For Same-Sex Couples, Leslie J. Harris Jan 2012

Voluntary Acknowledgments Of Paternity For Same-Sex Couples, Leslie J. Harris

Leslie J. Harris

The law in all states presumes that a husband is the father of his wife’s children and gives him the status of the children’s legal father. The status of legal parent provides crucial protections to the adults and children in a parent-child relationship. For example, adults who consider themselves parents but who are not legally recognized as such are not obliged to support the child and are not entitled to see the child if the child’s legal parent objects. If a child’s legal parent dies or becomes unable to care for the child, there is no guarantee that an adult …


Questioning Child Support Enforcement For Poor Families, Leslie J. Harris Jan 2011

Questioning Child Support Enforcement For Poor Families, Leslie J. Harris

Leslie J. Harris

American law and culture have always assumed that providing for children economically is a private obligation, ordinarily belonging to the parents. The principal was given real teeth in 1975, when Congress enacted the federal-state child support enforcement program. The legislation's two related goals were to reduce childhood poverty and to reduce the welfare rolls. The goals were linked by the assumption that childhood poverty is largely attributable to the failure of absent parents (overwhelmingly fathers) to pay their fair share of child support, even though they are able to do so. Federal welfare policy originally assumed that custodial mothers would …


Failure To Protect From Domestic Violence In Private Custody Contests, Leslie J. Harris Jan 2010

Failure To Protect From Domestic Violence In Private Custody Contests, Leslie J. Harris

Leslie J. Harris

All 50 states and the District of Columbia require courts to consider domestic violence committed by one parent against the other in resolving a custody or visitation dispute between the parents. A significant number of states also have statutes or case law that requires courts to consider the occurrence of violence in a child’s household or proposed household in resolving such disputes, regardless of who commits the violence or at whom it is directed. This kind of law may be used against a parent, often a victim, who fails to protect a child from being exposed to the violence. This …


Family Law Armageddon: The Story Of Morgan V. Foretich, Leslie J. Harris Jan 2007

Family Law Armageddon: The Story Of Morgan V. Foretich, Leslie J. Harris

Leslie J. Harris

This book chapter tells the story of the contempt case brought against Elizabeth Morgan, a Washington, D.C., doctor imprisoned for her failure to produce her daughter for extended visitation with the ex-husband she accused of sexual abuse. The chapter sets the stage for the proceeding in terms of the shift in custody law in the mid-eighties from the maternal presumption to a preference for shared parenting and the discovery of and almost immediate backlash against allegations of childhood sexual abuse. It also details Morgan's parents' flight with the child to New Zealand and provides an update of what has happened …