Margaret F. Brinig

Margaret F. Brinig

Professor Emerita of Law

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Margaret "Peg" Brinig is the quintessential interdisciplinarian, melding her expertise with law and social science in empirical studies of families, social capital, and social welfare legislation.

Brinig is best known for her expertise in family law. She sat on the executive council of the International Society of Family Law, and published Family, Law, and Community: Supporting the Covenant (University of Chicago Press, 2010), which offers a distinctive study of legal reform from the perspective of family dynamics and social policy. The book examines a range of subjects of current legal interest including cohabitation, custody, grandparent visitation, and domestic violence. She concluded that conventional legal systems and the social programs they engender ignore social capital: the trust and support given to families by a community.

Brinig previously collaborated with another colleague, Dan Kelly, on the Law, Economics, and Business seminar. The seminar features speakers from within Notre Dame's law school, economics department, business school, and other departments, as well as speakers from other law schools and universities. Law students and graduate students from other departments have the opportunity to read, discuss, and comment upon seminal scholarship by leading academics while earning course credit for participating in the seminar.

At the University of Notre Dame, Brinig was a Fellow of the Institute for Educational Initiatives at Notre Dame, and worked closely with the Institute's Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Program. She conducted groundbreaking research with colleague Nicole Garnett on the negative impact of Catholic K-12 school closures on poor neighborhoods.

Brinig has been honored for her work at a Notre Dame football game, and won the Distinguished Professor Award at George Mason University. She is a member of the American Law Institute.

Courses Taught

LAW70503, Family Law

LAW73145, Law and Economics

LAW75717, Alternative Dispute Resolution



Lost Classrooms, Lost Community: Catholic Schools’ Importance in Urban America (with Nicole Garnett) (University of Chicago Press, 2014) 

Family, Law, and Community (U. Chi. Press 2010). 

Margaret F. Brinig, ed. The Economics of Family Law (2 vol.), part of the Economics of Law Series, gen. ed. Richard A. Posner and Francesco Parisi, Edward Elgar, 2007); also wrote introduction to the family law series 

Carl E. Schneider and Margaret F. Brinig, An Invitation to Family Law: Process, Problems and Possibilities (Third Edition) (West Publishing Company, 2006); Teacher's Manual, 2007 

Margaret F. Brinig, From Contract to Covenant: Beyond the Law and Economics of the Family (Harvard University Press, 2000) 

Carl E. Schneider and Margaret F. Brinig, An Invitation to Family Law: Process, Problems and Possibilities (Second Edition) (West Publishing Company, 2000); Teacher's Manual, 2001 

Margaret F. Brinig, Carl E. Schneider and Lee H. Teitelbaum, Family Law in Action (Anderson Publishing, 1999) 


Substantive Parenting Arrangements in the USA: Unpacking the Policy Choices, 27 Children and Family Law Quarterly 249 (2015). 

Grandparents and Accessory Dwelling Units: Preserving Intimacy and Independence 22 The Elder Law Journal 381 (2015) 

The Effects of Hollingsworth and Windsor on Family Law, 6 Elon Law Review 499 (2014) 

Margaret F. Brinig, Leslie Drozl and Loretta Frederick, Perspectives on Joint Custody Parenting as Applied to Domestic Violence Cases 52 Family Court Review 272 (2014) 

Margaret F. Brinig & Nicole Stelle Garnet, Accessory Dwelling Unit Reforms: Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts?, 37 Planning & Zoning Law Reports 3 (2014) 

Margaret F. Brinig and Nicole Garnett, A Room of One’s Own? Accessory Dwelling Unit Reforms and Local Parochialism, 45 The Urban Lawyer 519 (2013) 

Margaret F. Brinig, Explaining Abuse of the Disabled Child, 46 Family Law Quarterly 267-95 (Summer,, 2012). 

Douglas W. Allen and Margaret Brinig, Child Support Guidelines and Divorce Incentives, 32 International Review of Law and Economics 309 (2012) 

Margaret F. Brinig and Nicole Stelle Garnett, Catholic Schools and Broken Windows, 9 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 347 (2012). 

Margaret F. Brinig and Nicole Stelle Garnett, Catholic Schools, Charter Schools, and Urban Neighborhoods (with Nicole Garnett,79 University of Chicago Law Review 31 (2012) 

Child Support Guidelines: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, 45 FAM. L.Q. 135 (2011) (with Douglas W. Allen). 

Do Joint Parenting Laws Make Any Difference? 8 Journal of Law and Empirical Studies 304-24 (2011) (with Douglas W. Allen). 

Catholic Schools, Urban Neighborhoods, and Education Reform, 85 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 887 (2010) (with Nicole Garnett) 

The One-Size-Fits-All Family, with Steven L. Nock, 49 Santa Clara L. Rev. 137 (2009). 

Children's Beliefs and Family Law, 58 Emory L.J. 55 (2008). 

The Public Choice of Driving Competence Regulations, 21 NOTRE DAME J.L. ETHICS & PUB. POL'Y 405-40 (2007). 

Are All Contracts Alike?, 43 WAKE FOREST L. REV. 533-57 (2008). 

From Family to Individual and Back Again, 51 HOWARD L.J. 1 - 14 (2007). 

Penalty Defaults in Family Law: The Case of Child Custody Default Rules in Private and Public Law: Extending Default Rules Beyond Purely Economic Relationships, 33 Florida State University Law Review 779-824 (2006). 

Margaret Brinig, Gerald Jogerst, Jeanette Daly, Jeffrey Dawson and Gretchen Schmuch, Lawmaking by Public Welfare Professionals, 5 Whittier Journal of Child & Family Advocacy 57 (2006) 

Gerald G. Jogerst , Jeanette M. Daly, Margaret F. Brinig & Stephanos Bibas., The Association Between Statutory Penalties and Domestic Elder Abuse Investigations, 28 Journal of Crime and Justice 51 (2006) 

Margaret F. Brinig, Does Parental Autonomy Require Equal Custody at Divorce?, 65 Louisiana Law Review 1345 (2005) 

Margaret F. Brinig, Unhappy Contracts: The Case of Divorce, 1 Review of Law and Economics 241 (2005) 

Gerald J. Jogerst et al., APS Investigative Systems Associated with Country Reported Domestic Elder Abuse, 16 Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect 1 (2004) 

Margaret F. Brinig & Steven L. Nock, Marry Me, Bill: Should Cohabitation be the (Legal) Default Option? 64 Louisiana Law Review 403 (2004). 

Margaret F. Brinig, Gerald J. Jogerst, Jeanette M. Daly, Gretchen A. Schmuch, and Jeffrey Dawson, The Public Choice of Elder Abuse Law, 33 Journal of Legal Studies 517 (2004).

Margaret F. Brinig, The Role of Socioeconomics in Teaching Family Law, 41 San Diego Law Review 177(2004).

Areas of Expertise

  • Catholic Schools
  • Contracts
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Economics of the Family
  • Family Law
  • Family & Social Policy
  • Law & Economics
  • Public Choice
  • Social Capital
  • Social Norms