Teaching Dispute Resolution with a Marriage Story

Mary Pat Treuthart (Gonzaga) wrote a terrific article describing how to use the Netflix film Marriage Story to teach law students:  Marriage Story: A Tale of Divorce, Love … and the Law, 45 Journal of the Legal Profession 65 (2020).

You may recall my thumbnail review of the film, Somewhere Between Reasonable and Crazy, suggesting that it is one of the more realistic popular culture portrayals of dispute resolution.

Prof. Treuthart’s article thoroughly dissects the interactions of the divorcing couple, their son, and a cast of professionals including various lawyers, a mediator, a custody evaluator, and a judge.  It discusses how legal and ethical rules would apply in the situations depicted in the film.  Of course, the film doesn’t portray everything accurately, but it captures a lot of very real dynamics.

The article is one long spoiler, so you shouldn’t read it until you watch the movie.  Indeed, you won’t get a full appreciation of the analysis without watching it.

The article would be an especially appropriate assignment in family law courses, though it could be used in other courses as well.  Students should be assigned to watch the film before reading the article – which should be an easy assignment because it is so engaging (and many students may already have seen the film).  This could be a great way to start a semester as it would provide a general framework and set of situations you could refer to throughout the course.

Take a look.

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