Vanderbilt Law Review

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The 1992 Presidential campaign was fraught with references to "family values." While Vice President Quayle took on a fictional television character for choosing to have a child out of wedlock," candidate Clinton was vowing support for the Family Leave Bill and other pro- family measures. Although the political rhetoric of the 1992 campaign was partisan in nature, the emphasis placed on the family by the political parties reflects the seriousness of the problems facing the American family in the 1990s. The American family is not the same entity that it was twenty years ago. Now, "nontraditional" families, such as single heads of household, divorced families and foster families, outnumber "traditional" families three to one. The social and economic changes within and around the American family create internal and external conflicts calling for new solutions to resolve emerging problems. The question facing the legal community in dealing with these conflicts will be the extent to which the law can ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the family.

The family has been characterized as a sanctuary, a haven, or a quiet respite; however, the family also can be a place of violence, neglect, abuse, and misery. Children born into violent households often are physically, emotionally, or sexually abused, and frequently extend that violence outward to the world around them. Further, foster children are often lost in the cracks of an overburdened and understaffed system, left to flounder for what support they can garner through their own efforts or to succumb to the cycle of abuse and neglect. The question of whether the law can provide these children with a means to escape abusive situations plagues foster care reform efforts.'

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Family Law Commons