Cahn, Huntington and Scott, ‘Family Law for the Hundred-Year Life’

ABSTRACT
… This Article argues that family law must adapt to the new old age. At a conceptual level, family law should address the interests and needs of families across the life span, not just those of younger people. And it must reflect three core commitments: centering the dignity and autonomy interests of older persons, addressing structural inequalities, and ensuring that legal mechanisms are efficient and accessible.

This conceptual shift leads to a series of practical reforms to laws governing family formation and family support. The interests of older adults will be better served if they have access to a broader array of family forms and can easily customize these family relationships. We thus propose reforms that decenter marriage as the primary option and make it easier to opt into and out of legal obligations. To support the familial caregiving that is essential to wellbeing, we propose a set of reforms to federal, state, and local laws that would provide economic relief and other support to family caregivers. By offering pluralistic family forms, better support for familial caregiving, and an appreciation of the legal implications of the centrality of relationships in the last third of life, this Article charts a path for family law for the one-hundred-year life.

Cahn, Naomi R and Huntington, Clare and Scott, Elizabeth S, Family Law for the Hundred-Year Life (February 19, 2022). Yale Law Journal, volume 132, Columbia Public Law Research Paper No 14-700.

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