Zoned Out: How Zoning Law Undermines Family Law's Functional Turn

62 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2018 Last revised: 12 Jun 2019

See all articles by Kate Redburn

Kate Redburn

Yale University, Law School, Students ; Yale University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Department of History, Students

Date Written: June 16, 2017

Abstract

A fatal conflict in the legal definition of family lurks at the intersection of family law and zoning law. Family law doctrines have increasingly embraced the claims of “functional families”—those whose bonds can be traced to cohabitation and shared domestic life. At the same time, zoning laws have narrowed to recognize only formal families, effectively restricting residency to individuals related by blood, marriage, or adoption. As a result, family law’s “functional turn” remains vulnerable in at least thirty-one states. Using original legal analysis and historical research, this Note illuminates that contradiction, explains how it arose, and argues that it must be resolved to protect diverse family forms. This Note surveys the “functional turn” in state family law and develops a novel historical account of the shifting definition of family in zoning law, documenting its “formal turn.” It then offers normative and practical reasons why the definition of family should be loosened, offering recommendations for legislative and judicial reform.

Keywords: legal history, family law, local government law, zoning, functional family, gender and sexuality

Suggested Citation

Redburn, Kate, Zoned Out: How Zoning Law Undermines Family Law's Functional Turn (June 16, 2017). Yale Law Journal, Vol. 128, No. 8, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3109969 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3109969

Kate Redburn (Contact Author)

Yale University, Law School, Students ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Yale University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Department of History, Students ( email )

New Haven, CT
United States

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