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Monday, March 1, 2010

Recent Acquisitions

Defiant Dads: Father's Rights Activists in America, Jocelyn Elise Crowley , (Cornell University, 2008) and Courting Change: Queer Parents, Judges and the Transformation of American Family Law, Kimberly D. Richman, (New York University Press, 2009).

By Jessica R. Alexander, Reference Librarian

When I saw the book cover for Defiant Dads, I thought of a quiet library patron with hurt in his eyes who has spent years trying to gain custody of his son in South America. After a divorce, his wife took his young son home to South America. When this dad visits his son, the wife's relatives demand that he hand over his passport during the visit.

In her informative book, Crowley gives a political face to the many non-custodial fathers who have formed or joined father's rights groups in the United States. She provides the reader with an overview of the legal and economic forces that have catalyzed the movement: family breakdown and the states role in determining issues of custody and child support. Numerous statistical information is provided about societal changes that have affected the movement.

I highly recommend this book to family law professors and students who plan to represent families in divorce, child custody and support matters.

Richman's, Courting Change, taught me the term "gayby boom." This term is used to describe a revolution in the exposure of the problem of gay and lesbian people and parental rights issues. The book is written from a critical legal and legal realism viewpoint. Richman begins the book with tragic illustrations of the absurdity of laws that automatically curb the parental options of gay and lesbian individuals and families. She goes on to give an overview of the case law with copious case law citations by discussing doctrines such as the now discredited "tender years doctrine," and the universally accepted but illusive "best interest of the child" standard for determining custody and child support issues. She concludes by saying that the persistence of the indeterminacy of these parental rights issues, cause contradictions and inconsistencies that continue to plague this area of the law.