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Family Law and Social Change: Judicial Views of Joint Custody, 1998–2011

  • Julie E. Artis and Andrew V. Krebs

Rapid changes in family life over the last forty years have led to substantial alterations in family law policy; specifically, most states now endorse joint custody arrangements for divorcing families. However, we know little about how lower court judges have embraced or resisted this change. We conducted in‐depth interviews with judges in twenty‐five Indiana jurisdictions in 1998 and 2011. Our findings suggest that judges' views of joint custody dramatically changed. Judges in Wave II indicated a strong preference for joint custody—a theme that was relatively absent in Wave I. The observed change in judicial preferences did not seem to be related to judicial replacement, gender, age, or political party affiliation. Although our conclusions are exploratory, we speculate that shifts in judicial views may be related to changing public mores of parenthood and, relatedly, Indiana's adoption of Parenting Time Guidelines in 2001.

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Law & Social Inquiry
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  • EISSN: 1747-4469
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