Translating Science into Family Law

34 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2010

See all articles by Elizabeth Mertz

Elizabeth Mertz

University of Wisconsin - Madison; American Bar Foundation


Lawyers have often turned to science for answers to difficult legal questions, especially in an area like family law. This article examines scholarship which explores the promise and the limitations of biology in illuminating family law problems. Topics discussed range from the effects of family violence on children to whether biological evidence can be used to discredit same-sex marriage. The article examines why biology is both attractive and problematic as a source for solutions to legal dilemmas. It inquires into the relationship between legal and scientific discourses, using specific examples to demonstrate the translation issues involved.

Keywords: science, family law, biology and law, children, trauma

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

Mertz, Elizabeth Ellen, Translating Science into Family Law. DePaul Law Review, Vol. 56, No. 3, p. 799, 2007; Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper Archival Collection. Available at SSRN:

Elizabeth Ellen Mertz (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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