Functional Parent Doctrines

This is a novel dataset of functional parent decisions issued between 1980 and 2021. These decisions were collected, coded, and analyzed by a cross-institutional research team led by Courtney Joslin (UC-Davis) and Douglas NeJaime. These data were used in the following article: Courtney G. Joslin & Douglas NeJaime, “How Parenthood Functions”, Columbia Law Review (2023).

Data and Methodology

The Functional Parent Doctrines (FPD) Dataset contains detailed state- and case-level information drawn from every electronically-available functional parent decision issued between 1980 and 2021 from every US jurisdiction with a functional parent doctrine.


The FPD dataset consists of two files:

  • Case-level data (Codebook; Data) - Hand-coded functional parent decisions issued between 1980 and 2021.
  • State-level data (Codebook; Data) - A supplementary dataset summarizing the legal landscape of functional parent doctrines across all 50 US states and the District of Columbia.


We ask users of the dataset to cite as follows:

Courtney G. Joslin and Douglas NeJaime, Functional Parent Doctrines Database, version 1.0 (2023),

Replication Materials

An archival copy of the dataset and ancillary materials used in preparing Joslin and NeJaime 2023 is also available for download as an Excel file (.xlsx).  The file contains three tabs:

  • Pivot Table - Pivot table created and used by authors for descriptive statistics and summaries
  • Master - Hand-coded funcitonal parent decisions issued between 1980 and 2021 used for analysis
  • Legend - Legend describing field names, codes, and definitions in the dataset.

Questions and Feedback

This dataset is hosted by the Lillian Goldman Law Library at Yale University School of Law. Questions about the data set may be emailed to Professor Douglas NeJaime at douglas.nejaime at

If you use these data in your own reporting or scholarship, please let us know!