Legal Periodical: Marriage and Divorce in a Multicultural Context: Multi-Tiered Marriage and the Boundaries of Civil Law and Religion

Nichols, Joel A., Marriage and Divorce in a Multicultural Context: Table of Contents and Introduction (2011). MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE IN A MULTICULTURAL CONTEXT: MULTI-TIERED MARRIAGE AND THE BOUNDARIES OF CIVIL LAW AND RELIGION, Joel A. Nichols, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2012; U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-36. Available at SSRN:

American family law makes two key assumptions: first, that the civil state possesses sole authority over marriage and divorce; and second, that the civil law may contain only one regulatory regime for such matters. These assumptions run counter to the multicultural and religiously plural nature of our society. They are also wrong. This book elaborates how those assumptions are descriptively incorrect, and it begins an important conversation about whether more pluralism in family law is normatively desirable. For example, may couples rely on religious tribunals (Jewish, Muslim, or otherwise) to decide family law disputes? May couples opt into stricter divorce rules, either through premarital contracts or “covenant marriages”? How should the state respond when couples purport to do these things?

Intentionally interdisciplinary and international in scope, this volume contains contributions from fourteen leading scholars. The authors address the provocative question of whether the state must consider sharing its jurisdictional authority with other groups in family law.

Contributors include Brian H. Bix; Michael J. Broyde; Daniel Cere; Ann Laquer Estin; Mohammad H. Fadel; Werner Menski; Linda C. McClain; Joel A. Nichols; Stephen B. Presser; Ayelet Shachar; Katherine Shaw Spaht; Johan D. van der Vyver; Robin Fretwell Wilson; and John Witte Jr.