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David Ray Papke, Family Law for the Underclass: Underscoring Law's Ideological Function, 42 Ind. L. Rev. 583 (2009). Copyright 2009, The Trustees of Indiana University. Reprinted with permission of the Indiana Law Review.

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42 Indiana Law Review 583 (2009)


This article underscores the manner in which family law for the contemporary underclass assumes a distinctly ideological function. Marriage promotion programs not only urge members of the underclass to marry but also deplore their declining commitment to marriage as an institution. "Deadbeat dad" legislation suggests the failure of underclass fathers to pay child support regularly and on time is a major cause of poverty in American life. Adoption law facilitates the placement of underclass children in middle and upper-class families, insisting in the process that this must surely be best for the children. Overall, family law for the underclass suggests imprudent and immoral lifestyles - and not the denial of meaningful employment, educational opportunity, and residential mobility - rightfully make members of the underclass "outsiders" in American life.

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