Family Law

Recent calls to defund the police were quickly followed by calls to fund social service agencies, including the family regulation apparatus. These demands fail to consider the shared carceral logic of the criminal legal and family regulation system. This Essay utilizes the term “family regulation system” to more accurately describe the surveillance apparatus commonly known as the “child welfare system.” The general premise of this system...

America’s mass incarceration crisis does not end at the prison gates. While an estimated two million people are presently incarcerated, nearly twice that number of people are subject to probation, parole, and other forms of community supervision. This Article documents one particularly troubling aspect of this system of “nonincarceration mass incarceration”: the widespread use of supervision conditions that separate people on parole, probation,...

Courts regularly consider a parent’s physical disability in child cus­tody disputes. At times, they go as far as to invoke physical disability as a minus factor that weighs against granting custody to that parent. This practice often reflects family court judges’ attitudinal biases, which are premised on ill-conceived notions of how physical disability actually af­fects one’s ability to parent. Because child custody adjudication af­fords...

Historically, the legal system justified family law’s rules and policies through morality, common sense, and prevailing cultural norms. In a sharp departure, and consistent with a broader trend across the legal system, empirical evidence increasingly dominates the regulation of families.
There is much to celebrate in this empirical turn. Properly used, empirical evidence in family law can help the state act more effectively and efficiently,...

Judges must consider domestic violence when determining child custody under state law. Many states guide the custody inquiry with statutory presumptions against awarding custody to abusers. With custody outcomes often hinging on allegations of domestic violence, judges increasingly turn to experts for answers. But expert assessments of domestic violence in the child custody context lack a uniform and reliable methodology. As this Note reveals,...