This article discusses how much of white society resisted when Aid to Dependent Children became available to black women and children. This resistance to desegregation manifested in the proposal and enactment of "illegitimacy" laws and standards, which barred unmarried and their children from benefitting from welfare programs. The author explores how cases were brought to challenge illegitimacy standards with disparate impact theories. Part I describes how race- and poverty-based discrimination arguments figured prominently in early constitutional litigation. Parts II and III explain how cases concerning the constitutional rights of unmarried mothers and unmarried fathers of color became a battleground for competing conceptions of parenthood outside of marriage.
This article explores the evolution of how American public opinion on welfare benefits became more and more divided as discourse on civl rights intensified in the 1960s. Resistant white society began to identify welfare programs with a racist symbol, the "welfare queen." The legacy of "illegitimacy laws" continues to dispproportianately impact black families in America today, despite the fact that family law canon says the discipline rejected race-based distinctions after Loving v. Virginia and Brown.
This critical ethnographic study of Family Court child maltreatment proceedings describes and illuminates the ways in which racial, gender and class disadvantages can manifest on the ground as judges, attorneys, social service workers, and parents – joined often by gender but split by race and class – adjudicate cases. The findings suggest that intersectionality worked in ways that exponentially marginalized poor mothers of color in the courtroom, both through the rules of the adversarial process, which silenced their voices, and through the construction of narratives which emphasized individual weakness over structural obstacles and personal irresponsibility over expressions of maternal care and concern.
This case is about Tatiana Cheeks, a Black single mother who was charged with the death of her six-week old daughter after medical experts found that the infant died from malnutrition. The case is important because Tatiana tried to access public assistance to address her daughter's weight, but she was denied on multiple occasions. The jury verdict awarded plaintiff damages on her causes of action for false arrest and malicious prosecution and reversed and remanded for a new trial.
This article discusses the role that race plays in child custody determinations. Part I explores the basis of the court's use of race as a "best interests" factor in custody proceedings. Part II discusses this factor's inadequacies and how such inadequacies may actually harm those whom they are meant to protect. Part III suggests that the best interests standard be modified to explicitly exclude race as a possible consideration in custody proceedings and provides reasoning for this proposal.
This article proceeds in six parts and will explore implicit expectations, ideals, and biases about mothers and how such stereotypes end up resulting in harm to mothers. The author hopes to join others in sparking a dialogue in the next wave of feminist jurisprudence addressing the implicit bias against and stereotyping of mothers in the family law system. Part V offers a set of modest proposals that specifically posits that we educate the players in the court system about the ubiquity of implicit biases.
This article explores the intersections of sexual orientation, gender identity, and adoption law. The authors discuss connections between parenting (including adoption) and marriage rights, highlight the influence of varying legal contexts and discrimination for LGBTQ adults who pursue adoption (including case examples from Florida after the gay adoption ban was lifted), and incorporating the perspectives of adoption‐agency personnel working with LGBTQ clients.
This article examines cases where the state is pursuing child support from low- and no-income noncustodial fathers. Part I describes an empirical study the authors are conducting. Part II addresses the experiences of low-income fathers in the child support system. Part III reports the authors' study findings concerning how parties and legal actors navigate race and racial inequality in child support enforcement proceedings, where low-income noncustodial fathers of color are present in large numbers. The authors conclude that the adjudication of child support cases shows a judicial colorblindness that ignores contemporary realities concerning racial inequality in the labor market.
This article identifies and discusses some of the ways in which the factor of race continues to constrain the choices of many African-Americans about family life. Part One describes some present realities of Black life in this country. Part Two focuses on two areas--choices concerning intimate relationships between adults and choices about becoming a parent--to illustrate some of the ways in which the options of many Blacks remain constricted. Part Three points out some ways in which this society seems to be moving toward more, rather than less, public regulation of the lives of many Black families. Finally, Part Four notes some issues concerning race that family law will need to address in the new millennium.