Zoned Out: How Zoning Law Undermines Family Law's Functional Turn
43 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2018 Last revised: 28 Oct 2018
Date Written: June 16, 2017
A fundamental contradiction in the legal definition of family lurks at the intersection of family law and zoning law. One set of doctrines has increasingly recognized the claims of “functional families,” the other has come to rely on the definition of “formal family”- those related by blood, marriage or adoption. As a result, the “functional turn” in family law is undermined or unstable in at least 32 states. Using original legal analysis and historical research, this paper illuminates that contradiction, explains how it came about, and argues that it must be resolved in favor of functional families. After a brief introduction (Part I), Part II surveys the “functional turn” in state family law, while Part III offers a novel history of the definition of family in zoning law, which I call the “formal turn.” Part IV offers normative and practical reasons why the definition of family should be loosened, offering recommendations for legislative and judicial solutions.
Keywords: legal history, family law, local government law, zoning, functional family
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