Vol. 36, No. 2, Summer 2002
Marriage, Separation, Visitation

Mary Ann Mason & Nicole Zayac, Rethinking Stepparent Rights: Has the ALI Found a Better Definition? 36 FAM. L.Q. 227 (2002).

The stepfamily model is evident in a large percentage of American households, yet it has been virtually ignored by family law. Federal and state legislation are in many ways out of touch with the needs and emerging patterns of stepfamilies and are sometimes in conflict with each other. The American Law Institute (ALI) proposes two categories of parental figures that are eligible to participate in custody arrangements following divorce. This article examines the possible results of applying the ALI’s categorical definitions to custody and visitation cases involving stepparents.

Brian H. Bix, Choice of Law and Marriage: A Proposal, 36 FAM. L.Q. 255 (2002).

In commercial transactions, respecting party choice regarding a law to be applied increases efficiency. When parties choose one set of laws over another to govern their interactions, it is because that choice better serves the interests of the parties. This article considers the special issues that would arise from attempting to extend to marriage this approach to choice of law.

Robert G. Spector, Toward an Accommodation of Divergent Jurisdictional Standards for the Determination of Maintenance Obligations in Private International Law, 36 FAM. L.Q. 273 (2002).

Legal systems have different rules of jurisdiction to determine the existence of a maintenance obligation. Divergent jurisdictional rules between civil law countries create obstacles to the receipt of maintenance by deserving families and obscure multilateral and bilateral negotiations. This article suggests that a new approach to the recognition of judgments is the best way to harmonize incongruent state practices.

Eithne Mills & Keith Akers, “Who Gets the Cats . . . You or Me?” Contact and Residence Issues Regarding Pets upon Divorce or Separation, 36 FAM. L.Q. 283 (2002).

The issue of pet custody must arise in a significant number of dissolved relationships. Therefore, it is not difficult to imagine the bitter disputes that might occur over implied contact and residence rights regarding pets when irreconcilable breakdown occurs between pet owners. However, courts have not handled these disputes to the satisfaction of those involved, including the pets. This article outlines the statistical incidence of pet ownership and people’s need for domestic pets, discusses ownership rights, and presents the criteria courts use when ruling on implied contact and residence rights.

Kimberly R. Shefts, Virtual Visitation: The Next Generation of Options for Parent-Child Communication, 36 FAM. L.Q. 303 (2002).

Because a majority of the cases involving virtual visitation center on relocation, the debate has been framed as the right of a custodial parent to move versus the right of a non-custodial parent to remain in close proximity to his or her children. There is a fear that judges will become more willing to allow custodial parents to move their children far from non-custodial parents. This article discusses how the Internet is beneficial in promoting stable relationships between non-custodial parents and their children and presents the most up-to-date relevant information on virtual visitation.

Publication Date: November 2002