Chapter

How to Give the Present a Past? Family Law in the United States 1950–2000

Michael Grossberg

in Cross Currents

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780198268208
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191683442 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.003.0001
How to Give the Present a Past? Family Law in the United States 1950–2000

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This chapter places the last fifty years of United States family law in historical context in order to help introduce a series of substantive analyses of particular aspects of contemporary Anglo-American domestic relations law. It argues that a series of fundamental changes in the United States family law during the early years of the era transformed American domestic relations by ending a nineteenth-century regime of family governance. The changes are worth recovering and analysing because they have framed subsequent legal practice and disputes. At the same time, however, the nature of the new domestic relations regime was determined not simply by change, but also by continuities in family law and by reactions to the transformations. This chapter thus documents a range of family law changes ranging from maternal preference to bans on interracial marriage, fault-based divorce laws against abortion and birth control, refusals to accept charges of marital rape, circumscribed juvenile rights, and even basic legal definitions of families.

Keywords: United States; family law; domestic relations; family governance; interracial marriage; abortion; birth control; marital rape; divorce; juvenile rights

Chapter.  12460 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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