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In his Article “Sex in the City,” Professor Sean Hannon Williams addresses the problems of enormous trial court discretion and concomitant unpredictable and inconsistent decisions found in divorce cases by proposing that local governments adopt nonbinding “rules of thumb” that would guide judges in exercising that discretion with respect to issues such as child custody, property division, and income support. He contends that this proposal would fit within the existing legal framework of state-local relations and would advance the goals of both family law reform and local empowerment with respect to family issues. Specifically, he urges that local legislative action could be a significant step towards the “rulification” reform that state legislatures have so far been unable to achieve, while also serving as a springboard for greater local government participation in a range of issues relevant to family welfare. It is an intriguing proposal. My comment focuses on two issues: (i) local power to act on family law matters, specifically the consequences of divorce; and (ii) the appropriate role for local legislative bodies in addressing these issues.


Family Law | Law | State and Local Government Law


This article was initially published in Volume 43 of the Fordham Urban Law Journal and is republished with permission.