The Transformation of Family Law: State, Law, and Family in the United States and Western Europe

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Mary Ann Glendon offers a comparative and historical analysis of rapid and profound changes in the legal system beginning in the 1960s in England, France, West Germany, Sweden, and the United States, while bringing new and insightful interpretation and critical thought to bear on the explosion of legislation in the last decade.

"Glendon is generally acknowledged to be the premier comparative law scholar in the area of family law. This volume, which offers an analytical survey of the changes in family law over the past twenty-five years, will burnish that reputation. Essential reading for anyone interested in evaluating the major changes that occurred in the law of the family. . . . [And] of serious interest to those in the social sciences as well." --James B. Boskey, Law Books in Review

"Poses important questions and supplies rich detail." --Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, Texas Law Review

"An impressive scholarly documentation of the legal changes that comprise the development of a conjugally-centered family system." -- Debra Friedman, Contemporary Sociology

"She has painted a portrait of the family in which we recognize not only ourselves but also unremembered ideological forefathers. . . . It sends our thoughts out into unexpected adventures." --Inga Markovits, Michigan Law Review

Mary Ann Glendon is professor of law at Harvard University. Her many books include Abortion and Divorce in Western Law, winner of the 1988 Scribes Book Award.

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Editorial Reviews

Glendon (law, Harvard U.) offers a comparative and historical analysis of the process of change in the legal systems of England, France, West Germany, Sweden, and the US. She assesses the degree to which recent reforms have promoted their objectives, and explores the significance of these legal experiments for theories of law and society. For students, scholars, reformers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Frequently Cited Works
Codes, Statutes, and Collections of Judicial Decisions
1. Law, Ideas, and Behavior
Legal and Social Institutions
From Custom to Law
2. Formation of Legal Marriage
Who may Marry
Who may Marry Whom
Premarital Procedures
Formalities for the Solemnization of Marriage
The Ideologizing of Freedom to Marry
3. The Law of the Ongoing Family
Legal Images of Family Relations
Economic Relations
The Ongoing Family and the Outside World
Legal Ideas and Family Life
4. Divorce
Divorce and Marriage Breakdown
England: Divorce Reform Act, 1969
France: Divorce Reform Law, 1975
West Germany: Marriage and Family Law Reform, 1976
Sweden: The Family Law Reform, 1973
The United States: The "No-Fault" Movement, 1969-1985
Free Terminability as an Attribute of Marriage
5. The Legal Effects of Marriage Termination
Marriage Termination by Divorce
Marriage Termination by Death
6. Informal Family Relations
Unions Libres, Old and New
The Nonmarital Lebensgemeinschaft
England: A Cautious Accommodation
Sweden: Where All Roads Lead?
Informal Unions, American Style
Comparative Observations
7. State, Law, and Family
New Lamps for Old
State and Individual without Intermediaries
Family Ecology
What Difference Does Law Make?
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