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Family Law Reimagined: Jill Elaine Hasday's New Book Challenges Family Law's Misguided "Common Sense"

JUNE 9, 2014—One of the law's most important and far-reaching roles is to govern family life and family members. Family law decides who counts as kin, how family relationships are created and dissolved, and what legal rights and responsibilities come with marriage, parenthood, sibling ties, and other family bonds. Yet despite its significance, the field remains remarkably understudied and poorly understood both within and outside the legal community.

Family Law Reimagined (Harvard University Press, June 2014) is the first book to explore the canonical narratives, examples, and ideas that legal decisionmakers repeatedly invoke to explain family law and its governing principles. These stories contend that family law is exclusively local, that it repudiates market principles, that it has eradicated the imprint of common law doctrines which subordinated married women, that it is dominated by contract rules permitting individuals to structure their relationships as they choose, and that it consistently prioritizes children's interests over parents' rights.

In this new book, Jill Elaine Hasday reveals how family law's canon misdescribes the reality of family law, misdirects attention away from the actual problems that family law confronts, and misshapes the policies that legal authorities pursue. She demonstrates how much of the "common sense" that decisionmakers expound about family law actually makes little sense.

Family Law Reimagined uncovers and critiques the family law canon and outlines a path to reform. The book challenges conventional answers and asks questions that judges and lawmakers routinely overlook. It calls on us to reimagine family law.

Jill Elaine Hasday is Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Centennial Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota.

Reviews


"This book is a tremendously ambitious attempt to identify the basic principles governing family law, used on the bench and in family law classes. It is beautifully and lucidly written, meticulously researched, and the most sophisticated theoretical assessment of the current state of family law."
Maxine Eichner, Reef C. Ivey II Professor of Law, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

"Family Law Reimagined explores the inaccuracies of the narratives that shape family law. Jill Hasday's argument is high-minded, yet deeply grounded in the reality of law and the reality of families."
Joanna L. Grossman, Sidney and Walter Siben Distinguished Professor of Family Law, Hofstra University