Abrams, Cahn, Ross, and McClain's Contemporary Family Law, 5th

West Academic Publishing
Primary Subject
Family Law
CasebookPlus eBook
American Casebook Series
Publication Date
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This popular family law casebook engages students with the significant changes to the American family and the corresponding evolution of family law doctrine and policy. In the fifth edition, all 17 chapters are fully updated to reflect the latest family law developments, including ones that have occurred since Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).

The book emphasizes that contemporary families take a variety of forms, including marital and nonmarital adult relationships, and that constitutional considerations play an increasingly important role in family law. The fifth edition preserves and builds on the approach of the earlier editions: presenting core substantive family law doctrine while also exploring ongoing and emerging policy debates and discussing the importance of cross-disciplinary collaborations with experts in fields such as psychology and accounting. A limited number of new cases replace older ones in most chapters, and the introductions to and notes and questions following each lead case, statute, or article have been thoroughly updated. In addition, problems for discussion in each chapter—including new and updated problems for this edition—enable students to apply doctrine in real-life settings that lawyers face.

Contemporary Family Law also introduces the myriad issues central to family law practice and to a lawyer’s ethical and professional responsibilities. The book includes material on shifting paradigms in family law practice and the roles of family lawyers, and devotes separate chapters to professional ethics, alternative dispute resolution, and private ordering. The book addresses jurisdictional issues in one integrated chapter.

In addition to providing a grounding in the historical and contemporary regulation of marriage, the book includes material throughout on the legal treatment of nonmarital couples and their children. The book also explores the diverse pathways to legal parentage and their impact on parent-child and co-parent relationships. Moreover, because child custody arrangements lead to some of the most acrimonious family disputes, this casebook devotes two chapters to custody: the first treats the initial custody decision, and the second explores continuing litigation concerning visitation, custody, and key childrearing decisions after the initial disposition, including disputes involving third parties such as cohabitants and grandparents. Both custody chapters include disputes involving nonmarital children.

The fifth edition includes new and expanded material throughout, such as:
  • Issues arising after Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the Supreme Court’s decision on the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry and to have every state recognize their marriage, and the decision’s ramifications throughout family law, including rules for entering marriage, parentage, domestic partnerships, civil unions, and other legal statuses.
  • Changes in marriage regulation, including state bigamy and legal challenges to them and “child marriage," including legislative efforts to raise the minimum age of marriage, with examples of new legislation.
  • Developments involving nonmarital couples, including Blumenthal v. Brewer’s affirmation of Illinois’s policy against allowing economic remedies for nonmarital couples.
  • Changes in parentage law, including surrogacy legislation, the latest revision of the Uniform Parentage Act (2017), and the new Uniform Nonparent Custody and Visitation Act adopted in 2018.
  • Extensive coverage of debt and family finances, new material drawn from numerous studies on the current economic climate (replacing the excerpt from Elizabeth Warren on bankruptcy), as well as new material on how the 2017 changes to federal tax law affect families;
  • Discussion of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (S. Ct. 2016) and later developments in the courts and in state legislatures regulating access to abortion;
  • New lead cases on moral fitness in custody adjudication and domestic violence in custody decisions with substantially revised notes;
  • a new lead case on relocation by a custodial parent—here a male nurse—reflecting changes in the law in many jurisdictions; expanded notes on parental decisions involving transgender youth; and a new discussion of disputes over “custody” of animal companions, commonly known as pets.
  • A full chapter containing updated materials about domestic violence and its harmful effects on marital and nonmarital households, and about intrafamily tort actions and family-related tort actions brought against family members by third persons.
  • A full chapter on adoption, including the latest trends and practices in transracial adoption, international adoption by American parents, and adoption by same-sex couples.
  • A fully updated chapter on the child support obligations of marital and non-marital parents.