Romantic/marital, parental, and familial relationship policies in the US

Jacki Fitzpatrick, Erin Kostina-Ritchey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Throughout its history, the United States of America (USA) has been characterized by a duality of cultural value sets that focus on (a) individuality, self-initiative, and privacy as well as (b) social conformity, charity, and social stability. Although there have been time periods when one value set has had more influence on family policy, neither value set has been able to retain prominence. This fluctuation in value prominence has resulted in policies that are transitory and prone to change. In addition, multiple levels of government (e.g., local, state, federal) can create family laws/policies, and there might be little consistency across the levels. Collectively, these conditions contribute to a public policy system that is fluid and emergent. This chapter will provide an overview of the (a) socioeconomic context and (b) specific aspects of family life (e.g., marriage, childrearing, work, care for vulnerable individuals) that are impacted by US policies. A list of specific policies (Table 24.1) is provided to exemplify the development of family laws over time.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Family Policies Across the Globe
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781461467717
ISBN (Print)9781461467700
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Branches of government
  • Children's rights
  • Common-law marriage
  • Conformity
  • Day care
  • Gay/lesbian
  • Individuality
  • Parens patriae
  • Privacy
  • Reproductive technology


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