Family Law and Personal Life

Family Law and Personal Life

by John Eekelaar


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Family Law and Personal Life by John Eekelaar

How should our most intimate personal relationships be governed in a liberal society? Should the state encourage a particular model of family life, or support individuals in their pursuit of personal happiness? To what extent do people have the right to shape the lives of their offspring? This book examines the questions at the heart of family law, rethinking the ideas that shape our understanding of the family as a social unit, its purpose, and the obligations and rights that belong to family members.

The book explores how the governance of personal relationships has depended on the exercise of power, from the traditional assumptions of patriarchy, where the male head of the family enjoyed full control over his dependents and descendents, to the ideology of welfarism, where state institutions protect the interests of the vulnerable at the expense of their close relations. Emerging from these conflicting ideologies comes today's rights-based culture, where traditional expectations for behaviour within a family sit within a new emphasis on the ability of minorities and traditional dependents to determine the shape of their own lives.

Against this background of shifting power relations, the book explores the inter-relationship between the legal regulation of people's personal lives and the values of friendship, truth, respect, responsibility, and community. In doing this, a variety of controversial issues are examined in the light of those values: including the legal regulation of gay and unmarried heterosexual relationships; freedom of procreation; state supervision over the exercise of parenthood; the role of fault in divorce law; the way parenthood is allocated; the rights andresponsibilities of parents to control their children; the place of religion in the family; the rights of separated partners regarding property and of separated parents regarding their children. Throughout, the book offers a new picture of the intimacy at the centre of personal relationships and argues that only by understanding this intimacy, and its role in human happiness, can we arrive at a true framework for respecting, and governing, the personal lives of other people.

About the Author:
John Eekelaar is Academic Director and Emeritus Fellow, Pembroke College, Oxford

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199535422
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 02/25/2008
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

John Eekelaar, Emeritus Fellow, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

John Eekelaar taught family law at Pembroke College, Oxford from 1965 to 2005, and was its academic director from 2005-2009. He was lecturer (later reader) in law at Oxford University from 1965-2005. He was a founder member of the International Society of Family Law, of which he was president from 1985-8, and founding co-editor of the International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family. He has written and researched widely in family law. He was elected a fellow of the British Academy in 2001 and distinguished visiting fellow by the New Zealand Law Foundation in 2005, and is now emeritus fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford.

Table of Contents

Table of Cases     ix
Power     1
Family Practices and the Diffusion of Power     1
The Open Society     6
The Welfarism Thesis     9
The case of divorce     17
Homosexuality     22
The New Era: From Family Law to Personal Law?     22
Friendship     32
Friendship and Brotherly Love     34
'Full' Friendship as a Paradigmatic Value     35
Friendship and Public Constraints     38
Marriage and Friendship     40
Friendship and Legal Rights     43
Betrayal and Loss     45
Friendship Plus     49
Why Consider Friendship at All?     53
Truth     54
'Physical' Truth and 'Legal' Truth     55
Truth, Kinship, and Manipulation     57
Truth and Personal Relationships     62
Truth and Identity     70
Truth and Justice     73
Conclusion: Truth and Shame     75
Respect     77
What is Respect?     77
Love     81
Community Values     86
Care and Nurture     89
Religion     94
Procreation     99
Respecting Children     101
Responsibility     103
Historical Responsibility: The Case of Divorce     105
Prospective Responsibility: Allocation     111
Prospective Responsibility: Exercise     118
Divorce     118
Parenthood     122
A Fuller Concept of Responsibility     127
Rights     132
The Central Case of Rights     133
End-states     135
Grounds for entitlement     137
Weight     139
Rights in Personal Law     140
Rights claimed through political action     140
Rights developed through judicial lawmaking     143
Human rights     148
Children's Rights     155
Personal Law and Cultural Rights     162
Group or collective rights     164
Cultural rights, personal law, and the open society     166
Community     174
The Fear of Individualism     175
Communities, Care, and Power     177
Hearing the Voice     181
Solicitors and Barristers     184
Community legal and advice services     186
Mediation      190
Communities, Responsibility, and Law     194
Bibliography     197
Index     213

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