Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Siblings and Public Policy

Back in the early 2000s, when only Vermont has civil unions, we watched the recorded arguments in law school. The state did a poor job as if they didn't even want to defend marriage. I didn't think much of it at the time, civil unions were not marriage.

14 years later, while I currently do not practice law I witness how public policy is played out in Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Kinship matters. As in blood relationships. Not legal bonds. The legal status of paternity (by marriage affidavit of paternity, or guardianship does the legal authority to authorize care for the child. It is  also a way of keeping track of who is who, now that we mobile and do not live in villages where everyone knows everyone and how they are related.

For instance at DCF, if there is a sibling group but of differing fathers, we may be hesitant to divide up the children if the mother is unable to care for them. This means the children end up with a maternal relative and live together, instead of half siblings being separated living with the biological fathers. Of course biological fathers have the right to care for their own children, but they struggle taking their child away from his/her half siblings.

Hard to keep siblings together when they only have one parent in common, instead of two. 

Can we see how marriage (in its former understanding) could of prevented this? 

From a legal point of view it doesn't sound romantic or emotional, but law shouldn't be about feelings. It's about objectivity.

Some say marriage is dead. From the legal point of view, sure why not. Fine happy? But it isn't. It still has purpose from a public policy point of view.

"Non-Marital Births: An Overview" by the Congressional Research Service July 30, 2014

" It has been pointed out that fathers are far too often left out of discussions about nonmarital childbearing. It goes without saying that fathers are an integral factor in nonmarital childbearing. It appears that one result of the so-called sexual revolution was that many men increasingly believed that women could and should control their fertility via contraception and abortion. As a result, many men have become less willing to marry the women they impregnate.53
" The federal concern about nonmarital childbearing generally centers on its costs via claims on public assistance. These federal costs primarily reflect the fact that many of these “nonmarital children” are raised in single-parent families that are financially disadvantaged. Federal concern also arises because of the aforementioned research indicating that children living in single-parent families are more likely to face negative outcomes (financially, socially, and emotionally) than children who grow up with both of their biological parents in the home. As mentioned earlier, many children born outside of marriage are raised in single-parent families.9
This paper was published six weeks about.

But who is going to read a 30 page research paper?

No one.

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