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Motherhood, Parenthood, and Custody Readings

NB: "Weisberg" refers to the class text: Weisberg, D. Kelly, ed. Applications of Feminist Legal Theory to Women's Lives: Sex, Violence, Work, and Reproduction. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.

February 17:

February 19:

Written Assignment (due February 19): Answer all parts of the following question fully; when referring to the readings, cite properly, including page numbers.

With regard to the primary caretaker presumption, Carol Sanger writes, "Consideration of custody now starts not from a preference for gender equality with custody rules falling in behind, but from an assessment of what having custody of a child means--in many ways a description of mothering--and the legal implications that follow from that" (876). Discuss this statement in the light of the definition of the primary caretaker presumption as it appears in Garska v. McCoy (see excerpts from the case, pp. 646-649). Do you agree that this legal definition actually assesses "what having custody of a child means"? Why or why not? Explain Mary Ann Mason's criticisms of the primary caretaker presumption. Do you agree with her objections? Why or why not? How does this legal standard relate to the gender neutral vs. special protection debate that we have been discussing?

Women and Law Syllabus
January 1998