Individual Rights and Family Relationships
The family law issues that dominated the last half of the twentieth century in the United States paralleled those in Britain, although some have predated the British experience by several years. The impression is that the family is a legally recognised institution, like a corporation or a labour union, which can sue and be sued. The most important event that has occurred in family law that has affected family relationships in the last fifty years is the recognition and protection of individual rights. Treating marriage simply as an association of two individuals who are together, but who maintain their individual persona and legal identity certainly can lead to a relationship that Professor Mary Ann Glendon has characterised as one of ‘alienation, powerlessness, and dependency’. This chapter discusses marriage as a partnership, the law on antenuptial agreements, the enactment of domestic partnership laws in several cities and states, domestic violence, rules of evidence in litigation regarding marriage, and divorce.
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