One of the law’s most important and far-reaching roles is to govern family life and family members. Family law decides who counts as kin, how family relationships are created and dissolved, and what legal rights and responsibilities come with marriage, parenthood, sibling ties, and other family bonds. Yet despite its significance, the field remains remarkably understudied and poorly understood both within and outside the legal community.
Family Law Reimagined is the first book to evaluate the canonical narratives, examples, and ideas that legal decisionmakers repeatedly invoke to explain family law and its governing principles. These stories contend that family law is exclusively local, that it repudiates market principles, that it has eradicated the imprint of common law doctrines which subordinated married women, that it is dominated by contract rules permitting individuals to structure their relationships as they choose, and that it consistently prioritizes children’s interests over parents’ rights. In this book, Jill Elaine Hasday reveals how family law’s canon misdescribes the reality of family law, misdirects attention away from the actual problems that family law confronts, and misshapes the policies that legal authorities pursue. She demonstrates how much of the “common sense” that decisionmakers expound about family law actually makes little sense.
Family Law Reimagined uncovers and critiques the family law canon and outlines a path to reform. Challenging conventional answers and asking questions that judges and lawmakers routinely overlook, it calls on us to reimagine family law.