Curriculum

Family Law

B608 is taught by S. Conrad, A. Orenstein, S. Sanders, D. Widiss

This course examines legal and policy issues that arise from the governments regulation of family and other intimate relationships. Topics to be covered include marriage (who can get married, as well as the laws regulation of marriage), divorce, non-marital relationships and families, constitutional privacy in sexuality and family life, how one becomes a parent (its more varied and complicated than you think), the parent-child relationship, 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 as part of a larger practice in any state. Well also have some guest speakers practitioners and judges who can talk about how practice 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 that 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? 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. In-class preparation and participation also will count.