Family Law for the Underclass: Underscoring Law's Ideological Function

40 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2008

See all articles by David Ray Papke

David Ray Papke

Marquette University - Law School

Date Written: August 11, 2008


This article underscores the manner in which family law for the contemporary underclass assumes a distinctly ideological function. Marriage promotion programs not only urge members of the underclass to marry but also deplore their declining commitment to marriage as an institution. "Deadbeat dad" legislation suggests the failure of underclass fathers to pay child support regularly and on time is a major cause of poverty in American life. Adoption law facilitates the placement of underclass children in middle and upper-class families, insisting in the process that this must surely be best for the children. Overall, family law for the underclass suggests imprudent and immoral lifestyles - and not the denial of meaningful employment, educational opportunity, and residential mobility - rightfully make members of the underclass "outsiders" in American life.

Keywords: family law, ideology, ideological function, marriage promotion, deadbeat dad, underclass, child support, adoption,

Suggested Citation

Papke, David Ray, Family Law for the Underclass: Underscoring Law's Ideological Function (August 11, 2008). Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 08-18. Available at SSRN:

David Ray Papke (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Law School ( email )

Eckstein Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201
United States

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