Various attempts have been made to define the function of family law. Bromley and Lowe in Bromley’s Family Law (1992) describe family law as having four distinct but related functions: defining and altering status; providing mechanisms for resolving disputes; providing physical and economic protection; and adjusting and dividing property. Eekelaar in Family Law and Social Policy (1984) describes family law as performing at least three general functions: protective, adjustive and supportive. These roughly correspond to those of Bromley and Lowe. Defining the functions of family law not only helps us to understand the nature of family law, but also provides a set of criteria or goals by which we can judge its success or failure. We can ask, for instance, whether family law adequately performs its protective function, and we may decide, perhaps in the context of cohabitees or of domestic violence, that the law does not. However, whether or not family law adequately performs these functions also depends on how far the boundaries of family law should extend: in other words, on its scope.
KeywordsDomestic Violence Family Court Emergency Protection Family Division Judicial Separation
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