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Philosophical Foundations of Children's and Family Law$
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Elizabeth Brake and Lucinda Ferguson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786429

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786429.001.0001

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Family Law and Legal Theory

Family Law and Legal Theory

(p.41) 1 Family Law and Legal Theory
Philosophical Foundations of Children's and Family Law

John Eekelaar

Oxford University Press

This chapter will be about family law and legal theory. Understandably, Brian Bix baulked at the idea that a single theory of family law could be constructed, at least for the US. Given the scope of its subject matter, I also think a quest for one overarching theory for family law will prove elusive. But I will argue that there is a pervasive feature about family law which is central to understanding both how family law operates and how it should operate. It will be argued that understanding the way legal and social norms interact should be central to theorizing about family law. In fact, there may need to be a number of theories explaining, or justifying, the specific interactions in the various circumstances in which they occur. It will be seen that these invariably revolve around the issue of power: who has it and how it can be controlled.

Keywords:   family law, power, social norms, legal norms, parents, children

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