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The new family: challenges to American family law [2010] CFLQ 387

Date:7 SEP 2011

The vast demographic and social changes of the twentieth century have produced a variety of new family forms - cohabiting couples, same-sex couples, an increased number of single-parent families, and extended families resulting from divorce, for example. The legal system in the United States has yet adequately to address the legal problems that these new family forms create. This article discusses a number of major issues that arise from this failure, including: (1) the sometimes negative impact of gender-neutral rules in divorce upon women and children; (2) the ambiguity and inadequacy of property and support obligations between cohabitants; (3) the legal incidents of non-residential conjugal relationships; (4) the incomplete revolution in the status of gay and lesbian couples; (5) relationships in the post-divorce family, such as those between stepparents and their stepchildren; and (6) the many conflict of laws questions that arise from inconsistent treatment of these issues by different states.


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