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Family Law
St. Johns University School of Law
Silverman, Lewis A.

Family law

Thursday, August 23, 2012

6:23 PM

-What is a family law

o Part social worker

o Part lawyer

o Part doctor/nurse

o Confidant

· Central themes

o How does government define family?

o How far does government go in regulating family?

· What is a family?

· Family means different things to different people

§ Legally recognized relationship by people either united by a law such as marriage, or have in common blood or are the result of sexual relations and generally a family is going to have a central authority figure at some point in its existence

· Nuclear family

§ Husband +wife plus 2.3 children living in a household

· Social construct

o Penobscot Area Housing v. City of brewer

· Issues:

§ Is there a central figure of authority?

§ Permanence?

· Intent of the tenants was to be there permanently

§ Doing their own cooking together?

· Holding:

§ Not a family

· Reasoning

· Cooking

· extensive outside aid in the management and operation of a household detracts from the family nature of the home

· Staff here would plan and coordinate activities for the household

· Permanence

· Reality was that they would only stay for a one to one and a half years, no permanence

· Central figure of authority

· More than one person was acting as a supervisor (rotating staff)

· Central figure of authority is one person

· where the domestic bond is not based on a biological or legal relationship among the residents, the importance of a relatively permanent, resident authority figure to the existence of a domestic bond may be particularly significant.

o Borough of Glassboro vs. Vallorosi

· Facts:

§ Group of college students looking to live together, home was purchased by the father of one of the residents

§ Lease was shared for a semester by 9 students

§ The students moved into their new home in early September 1986. The house had one large kitchen, which was shared by all ten students. The students often ate meals together in small groups, cooked for each other, and generally shared the household chores, grocery shopping, and yard work. A common checking account paid for food and other bills. They shared the use of a telephone. Although uncertain of living arrangements after graduation, the students intended to remain tenants as long as they were enrolled at Glassboro State College

· Holding:

§ Held to fit definition of family

· Reasoning

· Functional equivalence of a family (permanence +stability)

· Students do not just rent a room,they rent the whole house. The common areas are shared by all with free access; there is one kitchen that is used by the students and meals are either eaten together or in small groups. There is a common checkbook from which the bills of running the house are paid. Although their leases are for a short period of time, they intend to stay in Glassboro so long as they attend the college.

· Based on this testimony, the court concluded that the relationship among the students “shows stability, permanancy and can be described as the functional equivalent of a family

· Zoning ordinances are not intended to cure or prevent anti-social conduct in dwelling situations

o Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas

· Facts:

-The village of Belle Terre (Plaintiff) restricts land use to single family dwellings, excluding lodging hou


o Moore v City of East Cleveland

· Facts:

§ A Cleveland statute made it a crime for a dwelling to contain members of more than one family, and limited the definition of family to a basic nuclear family. Appellant was convicted under the statute when her son, grandson, and a grandson from another child all lived with her.

· Grandmother and grandson. Son and her grandsons moved in. One of the grandsons was from grandmothers daughter who died.

· Issue:

§ Does the Cleveland statute violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

· Holding: Yes

§ Reasoning:

· the right infringed upon is a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause, and the statute does not sufficiently advance legitimate state interests.

· Unlike previous precedent upholding limitations on housing units that affected only unrelated individuals, the present statute declares that certain categories of relatives may live together while others may not. This constitutes an intrusive regulation of the family protected by the Due Process Clause.

· The city justifies the statute as a means of preventing overcrowding, minimizing traffic and parking congestion, and avoiding undue financial burden on the school system.

· While these are legitimate goals, the statute serves them only marginally because large groups of people can still live together so long as they meet the statutory definition of a single family.