Complex Kinship Networks in Fragile Families

By Tonya L. Brito
April 28, 2017


This Article examines the complex kinship networks in families that experience multiple-partner fertility. Part I begins with a broad examination of the dramatic changes to the American family that have occurred over the past half century. Part I then highlights the broad diversity of forms present in today’s families, the evolving nature of American families, and how a two-tiered family system has emerged as patterns have diverged along class-based lines. Next, Part II turns to multiple-partner fertility, assessing what we know and do not know about this social phenomenon, including its prevalence, characteristics, and trends. Part III then addresses the implications of multiple-partner fertility for family law and policy. It also examines and critiques how the legal system treats family complexity in both the benefits and child support arenas. In concluding, Part III looks to the future; it presents ideas for ensuring that justice guides future policy developments in this area.