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Nudging Improvements To The Family Regulation System, Joshua Gupta-Kagan Jan 2024

Nudging Improvements To The Family Regulation System, Joshua Gupta-Kagan

Faculty Scholarship

The Restatement of Children and the Law features a strong endorsement of parents’ rights to the care, custody, and control of their children because parents’ rights are generally good for children. Building on that foundation, the Restatement’s sections on child neglect and abuse law would resolve several jurisdictional splits in favor of greater protections for family integrity, thus protecting more families against the harms that come from state intervention, especially state separation of parents from children.

But a close read of the Restatement shows that it only goes so far. It is not likely to significantly reduce the wide variation …


Parental Rights Rhetoric Versus Parental Rights Doctrine, Clare Huntington Jan 2024

Parental Rights Rhetoric Versus Parental Rights Doctrine, Clare Huntington

Faculty Scholarship

Professor Josh Gupta-Kagan observes that the Restatement of Children and the Law does not transform the law of child abuse and neglect. As he contends, this is neither a feature nor a bug. It is simply the reality of a restatement, which can only nudge, not reform, the law. I agree with Gupta-Kagan that only political will, not the American Law Institute (ALI), can fix the significant problems with the family regulation system. For advocates and scholars — including both of us — who seek structural and doctrinal change, the ALI has principles projects, and there is a broader ecosystem …


Restating The Law In A Child Wellbeing Framework, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2024

Restating The Law In A Child Wellbeing Framework, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

The Restatement of Children and the Law is scheduled for formal adoption by the American Law Institute in 2024. When this project was first proposed, it was met with some skepticism, on the view that the regulation of children was not a coherent field of law. But after eight years of work on this Restatement, the Reporters have produced a comprehensive account of the law’s treatment of children and clarified that it is, indeed, an integrated and coherent area of law. Our work has uncovered a deep structure and logic that shapes the legal regulation of children in the family, …


The Harm Of "Nothing Burgers", Joshua Gupta-Kagan Jan 2024

The Harm Of "Nothing Burgers", Joshua Gupta-Kagan

Faculty Scholarship

Child protective services (CPS) agencies subject a wide scope of families to investigation, and the vast majority do not lead to family separations or family court cases. A 2017 study, for instance, showing that 37% of all children and 53% of Black children are the subject of CPS investigations in their childhoods, has now been cited hundreds of times. Kelley Fong’s new book, Investigating Families, is based on the months she spent embedded with CPS investigators responding to allegations that parents abused or (more often) neglected their children, and the interviews she conducted with both investigators and the parents …


Comment On Part 4 Essays: Goodwin And Dailey And Rosenbury, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2024

Comment On Part 4 Essays: Goodwin And Dailey And Rosenbury, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Professors Michelle Goodwin and Anne Dailey and President Laura Rosenbury have written two compelling essays on Part 4 of the Restatement of Children and the Law, dealing with Children in Society. Goodwin’s essay, She’s So Exceptional: Rape and Incest Exceptions Post-Dobbs, focuses on § 19.02 of the Restatement, dealing with the right of minors to reproductive health treatments. This Section was approved by the American Law Institute before the Supreme Court decided Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade. In her essay, Goodwin explores the harms that will follow if minors’ right of access …


The Rise And Fall Of A Reproductive Right: Dobbs V. Jackson Women’S Health Organization, Carol Sanger Jan 2023

The Rise And Fall Of A Reproductive Right: Dobbs V. Jackson Women’S Health Organization, Carol Sanger

Faculty Scholarship

Although the phrase “Post-Roe Era” is still used by those who want to underscore the loss wrought last June by Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it is only a matter of time before the present state of reproductive constitutionalism solidifies into the more authoritarian “Dobbs Era.” In these early days of transition, states are still figuring out what they want the legal status of abortion to be, ever since Dobbs overruled both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, thus tossing the issue of abortion’s legality back to the states for …


The New Orleans Transformation: Foster Care As A Rare, Time-Limited Intervention, Joshua Gupta-Kagan, Christopher Church, Melissa Carter, Vivek S. Sankaran, Andrew Barclay Jan 2023

The New Orleans Transformation: Foster Care As A Rare, Time-Limited Intervention, Joshua Gupta-Kagan, Christopher Church, Melissa Carter, Vivek S. Sankaran, Andrew Barclay

Faculty Scholarship

This Article offers an initial evaluation of one reformed child protection system — New Orleans, Louisiana — and describes how a system that dramatically reduces the number of children in foster care might look. This system shows how a major metropolitan area can shrink its daily population of children in foster care to the low double digits, which would correspond to a reduction of the national daily foster care population by about 360,000. This reduction was mostly due to sending children home — usually to the homes from which they were removed — within days or weeks of removal, raising …


Family Law For The One-Hundred-Year Life, Naomi Cahn, Clare Huntington, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2023

Family Law For The One-Hundred-Year Life, Naomi Cahn, Clare Huntington, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Family law is for young people. To facilitate child rearing and help spouses pool resources over a lifetime, the law obligates parents to minor children and spouses to each other. Family law’s presumption of young, financially interdependent, conjugal couples raising children privileges one family form — marriage — and centers the dependency needs of children.

This age myopia fundamentally fails older adults. Families are essential to flourishing in the last third of life, but the legal system offers neither the family forms many older adults want nor the support of family care older adults need. Racial and economic inequities, accumulated …


Pragmatic Family Law, Clare Huntington Jan 2023

Pragmatic Family Law, Clare Huntington

Faculty Scholarship

Family law is a central battleground for a polarized America, with seemingly endless conflict over abortion, parental control of school curricula, gender-affirming health care for children, and similar flash points. This is hardly surprising for an area of law that implicates fundamental concerns about equality, bodily autonomy, sexual liberty, gender norms, parenting, and religion. Polarization poses significant risks to children and families, but centering contestation obscures another important reality. In many areas of doctrine and policy, family law has managed to avoid polarization, even for politically and socially combustible issues. Instead, states are converging on similar rules and policies, working …


A Religious Right To Abortion: Legal History And Analysis, Law, Rights, And Religion Project Aug 2022

A Religious Right To Abortion: Legal History And Analysis, Law, Rights, And Religion Project

Center for Gender & Sexuality Law

There is a long and rich history of religious support, across a wide range of faith traditions, for the right to reproductive autonomy, including abortion. A number of religious denominations, including the Presbyterian Church, Reform and Conservative Judaism, the United Church of Christ, and the Unitarian Universalist Association, support a legal right to abortion in most or all circumstances. Several religious denominations have even — long before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — issued statements explaining that the right to reproductive health care is an essential aspect of their members’ religious …


Accommodating Parents, Joshua Gupta-Kagan Jan 2022

Accommodating Parents, Joshua Gupta-Kagan

Faculty Scholarship

The child protection legal system is supposed to work towards the reunification of parents and children in foster care through individualized services to help parents raise their children safely. But that legal system has long been criticized for frequent and severe invasions into the family integrity rights of parents with disabilities and their children, treating parental disabilities as grounds for permanent separation instead of individual characteristics to be accommodated. Several years ago, it seemed that the law was turning. In 2015, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice issued joint guidance stating that the Americans with Disabilities …


Confronting Indeterminacy And Bias In Child Protection Law, Joshua Gupta-Kagan Jan 2022

Confronting Indeterminacy And Bias In Child Protection Law, Joshua Gupta-Kagan

Faculty Scholarship

The child protection legal system faces strong and growing demands for change following at least two critiques. First, child protection law is substantively indeterminate; it does not precisely prescribe when state agencies can intervene in family life and what that intervention should entail, thus granting wide discretion to child protection agencies and family courts. Second, by granting such discretion, the law permits race, class, sex, and other forms of bias to infect decisions and regulate low-income families and families of color.

This Article extends these critiques through a granular analysis of how indeterminacy at multiple decision points builds on itself. …


The Enduring Importance Of Parental Rights, Clare Huntington, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2022

The Enduring Importance Of Parental Rights, Clare Huntington, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

In this symposium contribution for The Law of Parents and Parenting, we argue that parental rights are — and should remain — the backbone of family law. State deference to parents is warranted not because parents are infallible, but rather because parental rights, properly understood and limited, promote child wellbeing. This is true for several reasons, but two stand out. First, parental rights promote the stability of the parent-child relationship by restricting the state’s authority to intervene in families. This protection promotes healthy child development for all children, and it is especially important for low-income families and families of color, …


Creating A Strong Legal Preference For Kinship Care, Joshua Gupta-Kagan Jan 2022

Creating A Strong Legal Preference For Kinship Care, Joshua Gupta-Kagan

Faculty Scholarship

One new to our field would be forgiven for thinking that the law must favor placing foster children with kin rather than with strangers. After all, individuals and organizations from across the ideological spectrum endorse kinship care, government publications describe kinship care as “the preferred resource” for placing children who cannot live at home with a parent and, after steady increases over multiple decades, authorities now place more than one-third of all foster children with kin. And decades of evidence establish that kinship care is generally more stable and serves children’s health and well-being better than living with strangers, a …


Tributes To Family Law Scholars Who Helped Us Find Our Path, Ann Laquer Estin, Melissa Murray, June Carbone, Barbara A. Atwood, Paul M. Kurtz, J. Thomas Oldham, Bruce M. Smyth, Brian H. Bix, Elizabeth S. Scott, R.A. Lenhardt, Jessica Dixon Weaver, Solangel Maldonado, Sacha M. Coupet Jan 2022

Tributes To Family Law Scholars Who Helped Us Find Our Path, Ann Laquer Estin, Melissa Murray, June Carbone, Barbara A. Atwood, Paul M. Kurtz, J. Thomas Oldham, Bruce M. Smyth, Brian H. Bix, Elizabeth S. Scott, R.A. Lenhardt, Jessica Dixon Weaver, Solangel Maldonado, Sacha M. Coupet

Faculty Scholarship

At some point after the virus struck, I had the idea that it would be appropriate and interesting to ask a number of experienced family law teachers to write a tribute about a more senior family law scholar whose work inspired them when they were beginning their careers. I mentioned this idea to some other long-term members of the professoriate, and they agreed that this could be a good project.

So I reached out to some colleagues and asked them to participate. Many agreed to join the team. Some suggested other potential contributors, and some of these suggested faculty members …


Ending Cps Home Searches' Evasion Of The Fourth Amendment, Joshua Gupta-Kagan Jan 2022

Ending Cps Home Searches' Evasion Of The Fourth Amendment, Joshua Gupta-Kagan

Faculty Scholarship

Every year, Child Protective Service (CPS) agencies investigate about 3 million families around the country for alleged neglect or abuse of their children. Under agency policies, all of those millions of investigations include searches of families’ homes. CPS investigators knock on the door (usually unannounced), look in every room of the house, open kitchen cabinets, sometimes inspect children’s bodies, and generally look for any evidence of child maltreatment. Yet CPS agencies rarely seek a warrant, and typically act as if that is unnecessary. (P. 18 & n.86.)


The Institutions Of Family Law, Clare Huntington Jan 2022

The Institutions Of Family Law, Clare Huntington

Faculty Scholarship

Family law scholarship is thriving, with scholars using varied methodologies to analyze intimate partner violence, cohabitation, child maltreatment, juvenile misconduct, and child custody, to name but a few areas of study. Despite the richness of this discourse, however, most family law scholars ignore a key tool deployed in virtually every other legal-academic domain: institutional analysis. This methodology, which plays a foundational role in legal scholarship, focuses on four basic questions. Scholars often begin empirically, identifying the specific legal, social, and economic institutions that shape an area of legal regulation. Beyond descriptive accounts, scholars analyze how authority is and should be …


A Ringing Endorsement Of Lawyers, And The Most Important Development In Child Protection Law, Joshua Gupta-Kagan Jan 2021

A Ringing Endorsement Of Lawyers, And The Most Important Development In Child Protection Law, Joshua Gupta-Kagan

Faculty Scholarship

Two empirical studies demonstrating the impact of vigorous family defense legal work on child protection cases bookended the 2010s. In 2012, Mark Courtney and Jennifer Hook found that cases in which a specialized interdisciplinary law office (ILO) represented parents had faster reunifications, guardianships, and adoptions than similar cases with different parental representation, though it did not explore how those results were obtained. In 2019, Lucas Gerber, Yuk Pang, Timothy Ross, Martin Guggenheim, Peter Pecora, and Joel Miller found that, compared to solo and small office practitioners, ILOs in New York City hastened reunification and guardianships for their clients, leading to …


Reimagining Schools’ Role Outside The Family Regulation System, Brianna Harvey, Joshua Gupta-Kagan, Christopher Church Jan 2021

Reimagining Schools’ Role Outside The Family Regulation System, Brianna Harvey, Joshua Gupta-Kagan, Christopher Church

Faculty Scholarship

The United States’ family regulation system often begins with well-intentioned professionals making child protection hotline calls, jeopardizing their own ability to work with families and subjecting the families to surveillance. By the system’s own standards, most of this surveillance leads to no meaningful action. Nowhere is this reality more present than in schools. Educational personnel serve as the leading driver of child maltreatment allegations, yet decades worth of data reveal educator reports of maltreatment are the least likely to be screened-in and the least likely to be substantiated or confirmed. In other words, education personnel — whether motivated by genuine …


Strengthened Bonds: Abolishing The Child Welfare System And Re-Envisioning Child Well-Being, Nancy D. Polikoff, Jane M. Spinak Jan 2021

Strengthened Bonds: Abolishing The Child Welfare System And Re-Envisioning Child Well-Being, Nancy D. Polikoff, Jane M. Spinak

Faculty Scholarship

The 2001 book, Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare, by Dorothy Roberts, called out the racism of the child welfare system and the harms that system perpetrates on families and communities. Twenty years later, despite numerous reform efforts, the racism and profound harms endure. It is time for transformative change. In this foreword to the symposium Strengthened Bonds: Abolishing the Child Welfare System and Re-Envisioning Child Well-Being, honoring the 20th anniversary of Shattered Bonds, we highlight Professor Roberts’ articulation of her development as a family policing abolitionist and summarize the articles and comments contributed from scholars …


The 100-Year Life And The New Family Law, Elizabeth S. Scott, Naomi Cahn Jan 2021

The 100-Year Life And The New Family Law, Elizabeth S. Scott, Naomi Cahn

Faculty Scholarship

This draft book chapter, prepared as part of a symposium on The 100-Year Life by Linda Gratton and Andrew Scott, reflects on the future of family law in an era of longer lives. Our analysis leads us to conclude that the 100-year life is indeed likely to have an impact on the nature, scope, and definition of family law, but that families will continue to function as the primary setting for intimacy and for caregiving and caretaking, whatever form those families take. Further, the importance to both individual and social welfare of family support throughout life points to a need …


America's Hidden Foster Care System, Joshua Gupta-Kagan Jan 2020

America's Hidden Foster Care System, Joshua Gupta-Kagan

Faculty Scholarship

In most states, child protection agencies induce parents to transfer physical custody of their children to kinship caregivers by threatening to place the children in foster care and bring them to family court. Both the frequency of these actions (this Article establishes that they occur tens or even hundreds of thousands of times annually) and their impact (they separate parents and children, sometimes permanently) resemble the formal foster care system. But they are hidden from courts, because agencies file no petition alleging abuse or neglect, and hidden from policymakers, because agencies do not generally report these cases.

While informal custody …


Child Welfare And Covid-19: An Unexpected Opportunity For Systemic Change, Jane M. Spinak Jan 2020

Child Welfare And Covid-19: An Unexpected Opportunity For Systemic Change, Jane M. Spinak

Faculty Scholarship

The COVID-19 pandemic has already wrecked greater havoc in poor neighborhoods of color, where pre-existing conditions exacerbate the disease’s spread. Crowded housing and homelessness, less access to health care and insurance, and underlying health conditions are all factors that worsen the chances of remaining healthy.Workers desperate for income continue to work without sufficient protective measures, moving in and out of these neighborhoods, putting themselves and their families at risk. During periods of greater disruption, tensions are heightened and violence more prevalent. Already some experts are warning of an onslaught of child maltreatment cases, citing earlier examples of spikes in foster …


The New Restatement Of Children And The Law: Legal Childhood In The Twenty-First Century, Clare Huntington, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2020

The New Restatement Of Children And The Law: Legal Childhood In The Twenty-First Century, Clare Huntington, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This Essay is based on a previous article: Clare Huntington & Elizabeth Scott, Conceptualizing Legal Childhood in the Twenty-First Century, 118 Mich. L. Rev. 1371 (2020) (offering a comprehensive account of the Child Wellbeing framework).

Since the 1960s, the law regulating children has become increasingly complex and uncertain. The relatively simple framework established in the Progressive Era, in which parents had primary authority over children subject to a limited supervisory and protective role of the state, has broken down. Lawmakers have begun to grant children some adult rights and privileges, raising questions about their traditional status as vulnerable, dependent, …


The New "Essential": Rethinking Social Goods In The Age Of Covid-19, Olatunde C.A. Johnson Jan 2020

The New "Essential": Rethinking Social Goods In The Age Of Covid-19, Olatunde C.A. Johnson

Faculty Scholarship

The Covid-19 crisis has laid bare the fragility of social insurance systems in the United States and the lack of income security and basic benefits for many workers and residents. The United States has long had weaker protections for workers compared to other liberal democracies racial and economic disparities among those most affected by these dislocations (analyses are hampered by a paucity of demographic data). Those who were socially and economically vulnerable before the pandemic (for example due to homelessness, immigration status, or incarceration) are likely to suffer the most harm. Changes in workplace conditions as a result of the …


Conceptualizing Legal Childhood In The Twenty-First Century, Clare Huntington, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2020

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

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 undermined …


Lessons From The Prekindergarten Movement, Clare Huntington Jan 2020

Lessons From The Prekindergarten Movement, Clare Huntington

Faculty Scholarship

I am deeply grateful for the ambition of Nancy Dowd’s book, Reimagining Equality. Professor Dowd offers a powerful and essential vision for addressing the entrenched inequalities that pervade our society. And she is unapologetic about the breadth and depth of change needed to achieve this vision. I do not want to distract from her inspiring call for a New Deal for Children by introducing questions about political feasibility, but thinking about what is possible in the here and now is a useful place to begin the conversation about systemic change.

So, what is possible in this era of Trump? …


In Defense Of Empiricism In Family Law, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 2020

In Defense Of Empiricism In Family Law, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

It is fitting to include an essay defending the application of empirical research to family law and policy in a symposium honoring the scholarly career of Peg Brinig, who is probably the leading empiricist working in family law. While such a defense might seem unnecessary, given the expanding role of behavioral, social, and biological research in shaping the regulation of children and families, prominent scholars recently have raised concerns about the trend toward reliance on empirical science in this field. A part of the criticism is directed at the quality of the science itself and at the lack of sophistication …


Early Childhood Development And The Replication Of Poverty, Clare Huntington Jan 2019

Early Childhood Development And The Replication Of Poverty, Clare Huntington

Faculty Scholarship

Antipoverty efforts must begin early because abundant evidence demonstrates that experiences during the first five years of life lay a foundation for future learning and the acquisition of skills. Public investments can help foster early childhood development, but these efforts must begin early and must involve both parents and children. This chapter describes the patterns of convergence and divergence in state approaches to supporting early childhood development. For the prenatal period until age three, the federal government is the primary source of funds, and there is fairly limited variation in how this money is spent across the states. For the …


Abortion Talk, Clare Huntington Jan 2019

Abortion Talk, Clare Huntington

Faculty Scholarship

Public service announcements routinely note that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Advocates frequently invoke the twenty percent wage gap between men and women. And educational groups often cite the (more contested) statistic that one in five women will be sexually assaulted during college. But there is another data point not regularly part of public conversation: nearly one in four women will have an abortion by the age of forty-five. The widespread — but largely secret — practice of terminating pregnancies is what Carol Sanger wants us to talk about. As much as possible.