"Inside the Castle" is a comprehensive social history of
twentieth-century family law in the United States. Joanna Grossman
and Lawrence Friedman show how vast, oceanic changes in society
have reshaped and reconstituted the American family. Women and
children have gained rights and powers, and novel forms of family
life have emerged. The family has more or less dissolved into a
collection of independent individuals with their own wants,
desires, and goals. Modern family law, as always, reflects the
brute social and cultural facts of family life.
The story of family law in the twentieth century is complex.
This was the century that said goodbye to common-law marriage and
breach-of-promise lawsuits. This was the century, too, of the
sexual revolution and women's liberation, of gay rights and
cohabitation. Marriage lost its powerful monopoly over legitimate
sexual behavior. Couples who lived together without marriage now
had certain rights. Gay marriage became legal in a handful of
jurisdictions. By the end of the century, no state still prohibited
same-sex behavior. Children in many states could legally have two
mothers or two fathers. No-fault divorce became cheap and easy. And
illegitimacy lost most of its social and legal stigma. These
changes were not smooth or linear--all met with resistance and
provoked a certain amount of backlash. Families took many forms,
some of them new and different, and though buffeted by the winds of
change, the family persisted as a central institution in society.
"Inside the Castle" tells the story of that institution, exploring
the ways in which law tried to penetrate and control this most
mysterious realm of personal life.
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