The first and only comprehensive account of the history of the law of child custody from the ancient Mesopotamian law codes to the present-day schism between gender neutrality/equality and polarity. Attorney Tom James explains the evolution of key concepts like the maternal preference and tender years doctrine, the “paramount rights” of fathers, the primary caretaker standard, the role of marital fault, “best interest” factors, the constitutionalization of parental rights, rights regarding children born out of wedlock, child protection, third party rights, visitation, joint custody, and more. Includes a discussion of the impact of women’s movements, and of late twentieth century welfare and child support legislation. Essential reading for family law professionals, and anyone with an interest in family law reform and the welfare of children. New to this edition: survey of state no-fault statutes; key U.S. Supreme Court decisions; a new chapter on the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgendered parents; and an extensive bibliography.