Prof. Appleton Delivers Bodenheimer Family Law Lecture at UC Davis on ‘Leaving Home? Domicile, Family, and Gender’

Susan Frelich Appleton, the Lemma Barkeloo & Phoebe Couzins Professor of Law and Israel Treiman Faculty Fellow for 2012–13, recently delivered the 2013 Brigitte Bodenheimer Lecture on Family Law at the University of California Davis. A nationally recognized expert in family law, Appleton spoke about “Leaving Home? Domicile, Family, and Gender.”

The UC Davis School of Law lecture series features outstanding scholars and practitioners who discuss the latest developments in family law. Appleton’s research and writings are focused on topics that include gender, parentage, reproductive rights, child custody, and non-traditional families. She has co-authored a family law case textbook and is widely published in law reviews on the subject.

In her lecture, Appleton noted that developments like same-sex marriage and surrogacy arrangements have prompted departures from traditional notions of family, yet the framework regarding fixed or permanent residence—the legal construct of domicile—remains relatively unchanged. How the law evolves in this area is important because it affects marriage, divorce, eligibility for many federal benefits, and other areas of family law, she observed. Further complicating the law are trends toward blended home life and work, and an increase of “trans-household families,” including  LATs (couples who live apart together), Appleton said.

The lecture concluded with some thought experiments about alternative approaches, such as a corporate model or party choice. Appleton will publish an article based on her lecture in the UC Davis Law Review.

A member of the American Law Institute (ALI), Appleton holds the office of secretary and serves on the ALI Council. She also sits on the Board of Directors of the American Bar Foundation. In addition to her research and scholarship, she is a dedicated professor. Appleton is a recipient of both the law school’s Triennial Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award and Washington University’s Distinguished Faculty Award.