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Family Court Review

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The past few decades have shown us myriad ways to form a family. Married couples and their biological offspring no longer define the dominant model, nor do they constitute the majority of domestic arrangements. But while contemporary culture tends to applaud social diversity, we cannot be certain that novel, highly individualized family formation is always consonant with child well-being. Further, courts and legislatures have been slow to acknowledge and accommodate domestic diversity. When judges and lawmakers do confer parental rights on a particular class of individuals, the results are not always equitable or even logical. The era of the traditional nuclear family may be past, but the task of legitimating, recognizing, and strengthening new parent–child bonds is just beginning.

Key Points For The Family Court Community:

  • Even in light of its decreasing relevance, the nuclear family model continues to shape our perception of what a family should look like.
  • The presence of a biological tie between parent and child is not always dispositive of parental rights.
  • Despite the prevalence of nontraditional family forms, the notion of de facto parenthood continues to be hotly contested.
  • Stepparent families are America's fastest growing domestic arrangement. Yet, courts and legislatures are slow to accord legal status to nonbiological coparents, whether married or cohabiting.
  • The use of assisted reproductive technology is on the rise among same-sex couples as well as infertile couples and single parents. These families are greatly in need of legal definition and validation in order to function and survive as families.