The Right Not to Be a Genetic Parent? – Article by I. Glenn Cohen

From Volume 81, Number 6 (September 2008)

Should the law recognize an individual’s right not to be a genetic parent when genetic parenthood does not carry with it legal or gestational parenthood? If so, should we allow individuals to waive that right in advance, either by contract or a less formal means? How should the law’s treatment of gestational and legal parenthood inform these questions? Developments in reproductive technology have brought these questions to the fore, most prominently in the preembryo disposition cases a number of courts have confronted—disputes over the use of stored frozen preembryos that couples have fertilized in the course of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)— but other examples abound.



Third-Party Visitation Statutes: Why Are Some Families More Equal than Others? – Note by Natalie Reed

From Volume 78, Number 6 (September 2005)

Over the last quarter-century, the definition of the American family has transformed from a clearly defined image of mother, father, and natural offspring to a kaleidoscopic vision of adoptive families, extended families, gay and lesbian families, stepparent families, and single-parent families. Although a vast body of law limits the state’s ability to impinge on the parental decisionmaking of intact, biological families, nontraditional families are finding that their legal right to select the persons with whom their children associate is far less protected and even subject to state court review.

The family, which was once a standardized structure, has diversified substantially because of liberal no-fault divorce rules, social acceptance of nonmarital sexuality and cohabitation, and tolerance of same-sex relationships. Detractors assert that America is in the midst of a social breakdown; however, the structure of the American family, rather than disintegrating, is merely evolving into something new.



Out of Joint: Replacing Joint Representations with Lawyer-Mediation in Friendly Divorces – Note by Avi Braz

From Volume 78, Number 1 (November 2004)

Joint client representation is a practice that is fundamentally important to the legal system. The cost of obtaining private legal services has been rising over the past decade. This trend poses a serious problem: while the cost of these services has skyrocketed, the ability of large segments of the population to pay for them has not matched pace. Often times, due to the economic constraints faced by an ever-growing segment of our society, parties in need simply cannot afford to obtain independent legal representation. To these individuals, joint representation constitutes one of the most viable and accessible methods of obtaining adequate legal representation.

Divorce litigation is one area where an overwhelming demand for legal representation exists and where the problem of unmet legal needs is particularly pervasive. One particular subset of divorce cases, the so-called friendly divorce, appears to be an ideal candidate for joint representation. In these cases, the couple has reached agreement on the majority of marital settlement issues and requires only limited legal assistance.



Islamic Marriage Contracts in American Courts: Interpreting Mahr Agreements as Prenuptials and Their Effect on Muslim Women – Note by Lindsey E. Blenkhorn

From Volume 76, Number 1 (November 2002)

In 1958 in Pakistan, Parveen Chaudry’s parents introduced her to Hanif Chaudry, the man they had chosen to be her husband. In accordance with Islamic tradition, Parveen’s parents negotiated the terms of her marriage contract with Hanif, consenting to and even signing the contract on Parveen’s behalf. According to Islamic law, Parveen’s marriage contract included a mahr provision, or dower, in the amount of 15,000 rupees (approximately $1,500), to protect Parveen if Hanif suddenly divorced her. Islamic law provides that couples retain their assets before, during, and after marriage, and because Parveen would likely not be permitted to work outside the marriage home without her husband’s permission, the mahr was a nest-egg in case the marriage soured.

One year after their marriage, Hanif moved to London to pursue a career in medicine, leaving Parveen behind in her native Pakistan with her parents and one-year-old child until her parents were able to pay for plane tickets to London. Once Parveen joined Hanif in London, he moved his family to New Jersey, where Parveen gave birth to their second child. Five years later, Hanif sent his wife and children back to Pakistan with the understanding that he would join them shortly. During the next five years, Parveen, who by now had three young children, attempted to rejoin Hanif in New Jersey, while Hanif took affirmative action to prevent her return and ultimately responded with divorce proceedings.