“How will the Equal Rights Amendment impact family law?”
The 28th Amendment (Equal Rights) will be directly applicable to the many cases of state sanctioned sex discrimination in areas of child marriage, divorce, custody, adoption and citizenship. Besides the highly anticipated coverage of girls / women / mothers, the amendment will also protect fathers and LGBTQ+ people.
Around 248,000 children as young as 12 were married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010. At least 31 percent of these children were married to a spouse aged 21 or older (in the U.S., 70-80 percent of all marriages involving a child end in divorce.) The two most common exceptions to laws that ban child marriage are: (1) parental consent (2) judicial approval. Forty-six states legally allow child marriage. Twenty 20 states have no required minimum age for marriage, while other states set different minimum legal ages for marriage for girls and for boys. Only four states, New Jersey, Delaware, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, have laws in place that prohibit marriage under age 18, with no exceptions.
Women in every state report injustice in their family law cases, especially battered mothers trying to protect their children from abusive fathers who aggressively litigate against them, using family court to stalk, harass, punish, and impoverish their former partners and children. (source: National Organization for Women Foundation)
The US Immigration and Nationality Act confers citizenship on children of unmarried U.S. citizen fathers and noncitizen mothers born outside the U.S. only if they meet certain requirements, including their father’s guarantee of financial support and longer residency requirements than for U.S. citizen mothers. This is one area of state sponsored sex discrimination that could be challenged with the 28th Amendment in place. (source, Equality Now)
An American Bar Association report states that “state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals who wish to raise children has dramatically increased in recent years.” Ten states now permit state-licensed welfare agencies to refuse to place children with LGBTQ individuals and same-sex couples if doing so conflicts with the agency’s religious or moral beliefs. (sources, NBC News and LGBTMAP.org)