Based on contemporary privacy law, this entry discusses two different aspects of family privacy: (1) the marital relationship and (2) the parent-child relationship. Marital privacy protects several aspects of married life. The first form of marital privacy protects the very decision of whom to marry. While state laws generally establish who may marry whom, the Supreme Court has established the quasi-fundamental nature of the right to marry. The second form of marital privacy involves the right to relational privacy. This constitutionally developed right to marital privacy protects the relationship from undue interference, particularly in the context of sexual decision-making.
There also are several categories of parent-child privacy. The Supreme Court has recognized a right to raise children, including the authority to direct their religious and educational upbringing. Parent-child privacy also protects a married man’s right to a relationship with his child. Generally, the Supreme Court has also protected the rights of unwed fathers when they have lived with or established a substantial relationship with their children, unless the unwed father is asserting rights against an “intact” family. Thus, the Court has protected an unmarried man’s right against an unmarried mother to establish a relationship with their child.
GW Paper Series
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-99, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2012-99
Naomi Cahn, Family, in 1 ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PRIVACY 217 (William G. Staples ed., 2006).