Joanna L. Grossman

Joanna L. Grossman

Joanna L. Grossman is the Sidney and Walter Siben Distinguished Professor of Family Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. She is an expert in family law, especially on state regulation of marriage and divorce. Grossman is an author of Inside the Castle: Law and the Family in 20th Century America (Princeton University Press 2011), a comprehensive social history of family law. She has also written extensively about sex discrimination, with particular focus on issues of workplace equality such as sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. She is the co-editor of Gender Equality: Dimensions of Women’s Equal Citizenship (Cambridge University Press 2009), an interdisciplinary collection that explores the gaps between formal commitments to gender equality and the reality of women’s lives. She is also the co-editor of Family Law in New York (Carolina Academic Press 2015).
Grossman has a B.A. in economics from Amherst College. She graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School, where she was elected to Order of the Coif and served as the articles development editor of the Stanford Law Review. Prior to becoming a law professor, she served as a law clerk to Judge William A. Norris of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked at the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C., as recipient of the Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship. She practiced law from 1996 to 1998 at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Williams & Connolly. She has also taught law at Vanderbilt, UNC-Chapel Hill, Cardozo, and Tulane.

Columns by Joanna L. Grossman

You Made Your (Marital) Bed, Now Lie in It

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman comments on a recent decision by an appellate court in New York holding that a harsh but voluntary prenuptial agreement could be enforced as written. Grossman points out that the decision is consistent with a larger trend of courts enforcing prenuptial agreements, even when their terms might seem objectively one-sided or unfair.

More Than Kin: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules That Stepfather Granted Custody Rights Also Owes Child Support

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman discusses a case in which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a stepfather who won shared custody of his former stepchildren must also pay child support. Grossman points out that this unusual ruling serves as a warning for parents and stepparents about the consequences of their choices about childrearing during marriage.

Appealing and Unappealing Peeling: Two Takes on Nudity

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman and Stanford University law professor Lawrence Friedman comment on the changing attitudes toward nudity over time in the United States from a social and legal standpoint. Grossman and Friedman point to two recent instances in the news that seem contradictory: the increasing openness of high schoolers when it comes to sexting one another and millennial men's reticence to be nude while changing or showering in locker rooms.

Distinction Without a Difference: Federal Court Says Sexual Orientation Discrimination Is Sex Discrimination

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman discusses a recent decision by a federal district court denouncing the legal distinction between sex discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination. Grossman praises the reasoning behind the decision and expresses hope that other courts will follow suit in recognizing “as illusory and artificial” any distinction between the two brands of discrimination.

Anger Management: Charlie Sheen’s Ex-Fiancée Sues Over Sheen’s Failure to Disclose HIV Status

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman comments on a recent lawsuit by Charlie Sheen’s ex-fiancée seeking damages for Sheen’s failure to disclose his HIV status. Grossman discusses the nature of the complaint filed and describes how civil and criminal laws must balance the right of individuals to sexual privacy against interests such as public health.

Baby Mama: Appellate Court Declares Sherri Shepherd Is the Legal Mother of a Child Born to Her via Surrogate

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman comments on a recent decision by a Pennsylvania appellate court that Sherri Shepherd, despite her arguments to the contrary, is the legal mother of a child born via surrogate. Grossman describes the background of the case and the national patchwork of state laws on surrogacy and explains why the appellate court came to the correct conclusion as a matter of law.

Though Obsolete, the Civil Union Continues to Mystify Courts

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman discusses a decision by a New York trial court that illustrates the continuing confusion caused by the civil union, despite its obsolescence in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in favor of marriage equality. Grossman provides a brief history of the civil union and its demise and critiques the reasoning and conclusion arrived at by the trial court in this case.

When One Door Opens, Another Closes: Parentage Law After Obergefell v. Hodges

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman discusses the evolving landscape of parentage law after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Grossman argues that while Obergefell has opened up some new paths to parentage for same-sex couples, it has also closed off others that had been created as workarounds in a restrictive marriage regime.

He Who Hesitated Lost: Unwed Father in Utah Forfeits Parental Rights

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman comments on a recent Utah case where an unwed father forfeited his rights to contest the adoption of his child by not filing a paternity action. Grossman points out that this result is the product of balancing interests of unwed fathers against those of the child, mothers seeking to place children for adoption, and adoptive parents.