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This seminar will focus on selected topics in family law, gender issues, and family policy that are the subject of current debate in public policy or intellectual forums. While some topics will emphasize traditional legal materials, other topics will make use of materials from other disciplines such as psychology, demography, and biology. During approximately the first ten weeks of the semester we will discuss readings assembled by the instructor, and drawn from topics such as these: (1) Gender relations and gender definition, biology, and evolutionary psychology; (2) How should the law assign parentage in nontraditional situations (assisted reproduction, arrangements between same-sex couples; conflicts between social and biological parentage); (3) Child support and paternal rights (What are the limits of the child support obligation? Why are the rules for identifying men responsible for child support different than the rules for identifying men entitled, as fathers, to access to their child? Are men and women treated differently, and are any differences appropriate?; (4) Child support and custody issues arising from same-sex relationships; (5) How are child support guidelines constructed? Why are there enormous uncollected support arrearages owed to public agencies, and does that make sense? We will look at some of the economic and survey literature about how to construct guidelines that set a fair level of support (what is a fair level? How do you determine that? What do current guidelines assume about how that is determined?); (6) Are child custody allocations based exclusively on the child's interests, and should they be? (7) How do American trends in marriage and divorce compare with trends in other countries, and to what extent legal policies affect those trends.
Regular attendance and participation are expected. Rather than require a longer paper reflecting the full three hours’ credit, the instructor may instead require one or two brief written reviews of assigned readings, in combination with a shorter term paper. The final few weeks of the semester will consist of presentations by students on the topic of their main paper for the class.
Credit Hours: 3
Grading Option: Numeric Grade or Letter Grade Only
Written Assignment: Yes
Graduation Writing Requirement: Yes, With Instructor's Approval*
Flexible Writing Requirement: Yes*
Skills Requirement: No
Note: Only one of the above listed requirements can be fulfilled with this course.
Special Withdrawal Course: No
Limited Enrollment Number: 15
Final Exam Given: No
Paper or In-Class Presentation: Yes
Participation Points: Yes
Attendance Policy: Per Statement of Student Policies
Additional Attendance Policy: Attendance expected
Online Course Site: Blackboard