The course examines the legal relationships between children, their caretakers, and the state. We will focus on the allocation of authority to speak on the child's behalf, on the ability (and inability) of legal institutions to further children's welfare, and on the often conflicting legal goals of honoring parents' rights, safeguarding children's well-being, and advancing the state's interests in raising responsible citizens. Areas covered: schooling, support obligations, medical treatment, abuse and neglect, custody and adoption. The course will not deal with juvenile delinquency.
Materials: Mnookin and Weisberg, Child, Family and State, 6th edition (2009, Goldstein/Solnit/Goldstein/Freud, The Best Interests of the Child (Free Press 1996) and occasional handouts. At the beginning of each class, a pre-determined student will present a 5-minute (timed) introduction to the readings of the day. These contributions, together with class participation, may add up to 1/3 of a letter grade to a student's final grade.
The final exam will have two parts:
There will be a 1-hour written exam consisting of short-answer questions covering our readings that will count for 1/3 of the final grade.
Students will also write a roughly 15-page case-note on a case of their choosing that deals with some of the children-and-the-law issues covered in class. That case-note will count for 2/3 of the final grade and will be administered as a take-home exam.