Document Type


First Faculty Advisor

Washburn, Ronald


family law; custody; father's rights; shared parenting; joint custory; sole custody; family court; History; Social; Sciences


Bryant University


In its traditional sense, family law (aka domestic relations law) involves the legal relationships between husband and wife, parent and child, as a social, political, and economic unit. Recently, the boundaries of family law have to grown to encompass relationships among persons who live together but are not married, so-called non-traditional families. The legal aspects of families, whether they are traditional or non-traditional, include principles of constitutional law, property law, contract law, tort law, civil procedure, statutory regulations, equitable remedies, and marital property and support rights. Most family law statues are drafted as general guidelines. Consequently, state court judges normally have broad discretion in resolving many family law disputes. Moreover, a particular judge’s interpretation of family law issues will be guided by the law of the state whose family law governs the case, and the underlying law is rarely uniform from state to state. A judge may be bound by a state’s traditional family law statutes and judicial precedents, a more modern approach, or a combination of the two.