This chapter traces the doctrinal and procedural antecedents of the late twentieth-century paradigm shift in family dispute resolution. Doctrinal developments in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries expanded and transformed the judicial role in divorce and custody disputes, ultimately making courts the primary guardians of children's welfare in the face of family breakdown. In addition, the therapeutic underpinnings of progressive-era juvenile justice reform shifted in the mid-twentieth century from the delinquency to the divorce and custody context. Finally, the shift from a fault-based, sole custody regime to a no-fault co-parenting model in the 1980s and early 1990s simultaneously undermined the efficacy of traditional adversary processes and invited ongoing court involvement in families affected by divorce and parental separation—both important elements of the new paradigm.
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