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The most famous article on child-custody law, and one of the most important in family law scholarship altogether, is Robert H. Mnookin's Child Custody Adjudication: Judicial Functions in the Face of Indeterminacy, published in Law and Contemporary Problems in 1975. In that article, Professor Mnookin analyzed the best-interests-of-the-child standard, which by the 1970s had emerged as the dominant custody decision rule. Although the best-interests standard seemed on its face to be an uncomplicated and straightforward way to put the interests of children first in custody decisionmaking, Professor Mnookin explained its distinctive character and deficiencies as a legal rule. His two core themes were the indeterminacy of the best-interests standard and the differences between private custody disputes and those in which the state seeks to take custody of a child from a parent. The goal of this issue of Law and Contemporary Problems is to examine the impact of Professor Mnookin's framework and insights and to analyze developments in legal and social-science research and in practice since his article imposed conceptual order on the field.


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