The contents of this volume consist of cases and text notes on law and readings from the literature of anthropology, sociology and psychiatry. Quantitatively, the material divides roughly to about half and half.
The book is an experiment in integration of the various disciplines which deal with problems of the family. For several years now, the editor has been teaching the course in Domestic Relations and relying primarily on the usual teaching tools, case books devoted exclusively to opinions of appellate courts on the legal aspects of family troubles. The case books were excellent in the selection, editing and arrangement. It became increasingly apparent, however, that both method and materials were inadequate. The problems of the family just wouldn't divide into the strictly legal and non-legal. Increasingly apparent also became the fact that the isolation of legal matters and their treatment in a vacuum was a misdirected way of attacking one of society's greatest ills. The social, psychological and legal aspects of family problems were all mixed up together. One got the impression, indeed, that often lawyers, judges and legislatures were dealing merely with overtones of complexities, an understanding of which only disciplines other than law could give.
For centuries, Western Christian cultures have relied almost entirely upon moral, religious and legal sanctions for the regulation of the family. Thinking has been based on a concept of fault. There was always the assumption that if a married couple were good people, they would be happy and so would their children. If by some strange perversity of nature they weren't, they had to grin and bear it. The children, somehow or other, would be all right anyway. In spite of the combined efforts of the Church and the State, family troubles seem to be here to stay. Divorce rates are still soaring and the children of broken families are increasing. Perhaps the basic trouble, in many cases, is something other than fault. If it is, both morality and law need help from other fields to get at the difficulty.
It is not the editor's notion that lawyers must become psychiatrists, sociologists and anthropologists in order to deal with the family trouble. It has not been thought hitherto that a lawyer had to become a clergyman in order to meet family discord. It may well be, however, that he does need something of the clergyman in him, and perhaps also something of the psychiatrist and social scientist. In any event, familiarity with these fields may contribute greatly to his grasp of many family problems and his understanding of the source of much unhappiness. Such is the assumption and the hope underlying the preparation of this book.
I must acknowledge my indebtedness to a large number of persons for valuable assistance and suggestions in the preparation of this volume. Several generations of students at the Yale Law School who have taken the course in . . .