At the heart of family law are some very basic questions: what is a family, and how should the rights and responsibilities of family members be regulated by the law? Indeed, one might take this latter question further and ask whether they should be regulated by law at all: one very important current debate, particularly in light of the restrictions on access to legal aid, is just how far families should be expected to resolve their disputes without recourse to law. Assuming that the law is to play some role — at least in establishing what individuals are entitled to, and what they are expected to do — a further question presents itself: what criteria should be used in deciding these points? Should the law make moral judgments about who is a good parent, or a good wife or husband, and use these judgments to determine individuals’ entitlements? And, if so, how do judges decide what makes a good parent or partner?
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- The Nature of Families and Family Law
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