Section 7: Domestic Law Issues Affecting Education
In this section I will provide an overview of family issues that directly impact on a student's ability to
receive and fully benefit from the education process. After all, if a student comes from a home that is
disrupted by divorce or custody issues, or torn apart by domestic violence issues, that student's emotional
and mental focus will not be on academic achievement.
The Traditional v. Nontraditional Family:
A family may be defined as a group of people related by blood or by marriage. It may also de defined as
a group of people living in one household, in a more non traditional sense. A nuclear family is composed
of husband, wife and children. An extended family consists of persons related by blood or marriage with
strong ties of community that result in obligations of mutual help and support. Example: for many gay
partners and other non-married people, the term extended family may also refer to a small, close group of
friends who provide support for each other in the same way as a traditional family supports its members.
A family, however defined, is a very resilient system. Its primary role historically has been the raising and
socialization of children, in addition to the mutual economic support of its members. A family unit also
offers psychological well being and happiness. Family law strives to minimize the uncertainties
associated with non marital relationships, to secure the safe custody of children, to prevent harm to
children and to clarify familial economic rights and responsibilities. It sets out to establish rules that will
maximize human happiness within a family relationship.
Marriage and the traditional family has legitimized the conjugal relationship between a man and a woman
since early times. Marriage is a public bonding, and it has evolved steadily since Biblical times. Under
Jewish law, marriage requires a contract, or Ketubah. The Catholic Church treats marriage as a holy
sacrament rather than a contract. It was only after the seventeenth century that there was a recognition
of the concept of divorce in America. That recognition resulted in the assignment of laws concerning
marriage and divorce by state legislatures and state courts.
By the twentieth century, the American legal system had developed some standard assumptions
regarding marriage and the family as a social institution. First, marriage was viewed as the primary
support unit and determinant of social, economic and legal status for spouses and children. Second,
marriage was intended to last forever and ended when one spouse died or for some other serious cause.
Third, in a family the husband was the authority figure, made all important decisions and provided support
for the family. The wife cared for the home and children. Finally, the major purpose for marriage was
procreation and child rearing.
However, it became easier for couples to divorce as more and more women began working outside of the