This book presents a sustained theoretical analysis of what rights children should possess in connection with state decision making about their personal relationships which the state does in numerous aspects of family law, including paternity, adoption, custody and visitation, termination of parental rights, and grandparent visitation. It examines the nature and normative foundation of adults' rights in connection with relationships among themselves and then assesses the extent to which the moral principles underlying adults' rights apply also to children. It concludes that the law should ascribe to children rights equivalent (though not identical) to those which adults enjoy, and this would require substantial changes in the way the legal system treats children, including a reformation of the rules for establishing legal parent-child relationships at birth and of the rules for deciding whether to end a parent-child relationship.
• Combines extensive description of existing law with in-depth but easily comprehensible philosophical analysis • Proposes specific and controversial legal reforms using model statutes • It has an international focus describing and critiquing the laws not just in the US but also in other English-speaking countries and in Europe
Introduction; 1. Why rights for children?; 2. The existing relationship rights of children; 3. Paradigmatic relationship rights; 4. Why adults have the relationship rights they do; 5. Extending the theoretical underpinnings of relationship rights to children; 6. Rebutting defenses of the status quo; 7. Implementing children's moral rights in law; 8. Applications; Appendix; Notes.