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Improving Parent-Child Relationships within the Divorced Family: A Call for Legal Reform

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Title: Improving Parent-Child Relationships within the Divorced Family: A Call for Legal Reform
Author: Murray, John S.
Abstract: The goal of the legal system should be to support the development of as positive and nurturing an environment for all members of a divorced family as possible within the behavioral limits determined by those members. Three questions follow from this objective: (1) What is the proper role for court adjudication in determining post-divorce parent-child relationships? (2) Is there value in applying the traditional concept of family autonomy within the divorce setting? (3) Can the elements of conflict among divorced family members be managed in a way more supportive of the psychological needs of the divorced family as a whole than done at present? In this Article, Professor Murray addresses these three questions within the framework provided by the goal to be achieved. Part I outlines the present system and its problems, discussing both its effects on divorced family members and the problems inherent in the exclusive custody rule. Part II builds a proposal for legal reform by first considering the effect of conflict within the family, then identifying five value guidelines that should control the relationships, and finally describing the proposal in detail. Part III analyzes the pros and cons of the reform proposal to determine whether its adoption could establish a healthier environment for the divorced family.
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Date: 1986

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