The Expansion of the Supreme Court’s Role in Family Law, Divorce and Alimony Issues

According to Justice Potter Stewart in the case of Parham v J. R. (1979) “issues involving family are the most difficult that courts have to face, involving as they often do, serious problems of policy disguised as questions of constitutional law”.  This statement was based on this judge’s reflections on years of judicial experience on the tensions that accompanied the Supreme Court’s increasing involvement in the American Family.  Family law litigation coming before the Supreme Court put state and federal regulations to a constitutional test against the the wishes of husbands, wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters and various other family law claimants.  The disputes have compelled the justices both to devise ever more intricate legal doctrines to govern families and to articulate their conceptions of family responsibilities and roles.  The decisions reveal a broad judicial commitment to the family the deep disagreements over how to implement a commitment. As a result, family cases have become some of the most controversial and contentious in the Supreme Court’s case docket.

That was not always the case. The most of its history, the court avoided extensive involving the family disputes. Under 19th-century conceptions of federalism, states that the prime responsibility family law is. Rules the marriage, divorce, child-rearing, inheritance another family issue is whether province of the state. The Supreme Court endorsed a jurisdiction a family in a number of decisions such as Maynard against shield of 1888. The courts main contribution was to clarify issues of comity, that is, determined the responsibility of one state to enforce rules of another in disputes of the marriage of child custody. Generally, the justices encourage states to grant for faith and credit to the family rules of other jurisdictions. In addition, the court could involved in specific controversies such as the fight against polygamy in which the justices refused to further to marriage laws of Utah endorsing the practice. In general courts endorsement of state family regulation encouraged an array of local and regional differences in American family law. These variations ranged from bans on interracial marriages to limits on inheritance rights of illegitimate children.

In the 20th century, the states continue to structure family life of the court assumed an even greater supervisory role, leading a set of National family law standards. Significant Federal judicial involvement in family disputes began in a series of parental rights cases in the 1920s. In the case of Meyers v Nebraska of 1923 and Pearce against society of sisters in 1925, the court upheld the right of a parent to direct his or her child’s education. The decisions endorsed parental authority by asserting the families existed in a constitutional in protected private rail of society. Prince against Massachusetts of 1944 wide on the courts commitment family private is by declaring that there is a realm of family life that the state cannot enter without substantial justification. The shifting determinations of such justification, the court has granted families autonomy from state regulations as protections of liberty guaranteed by the fourth amendment. In the years after World War II, such constitutional protection became the basis of the courts growing involvement with the nation’s families.

 

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