Jessica Dixon Weaver

Jessica Dixon Weaver

Full-time faculty

Associate Professor of Law

“The dilemma that the sandwich generation faces is an economic standoff between support for their children’s future or their parents’ decline. As the caregiving needs of seniors and children synchronize, it is useful to develop theoretical and practical legal solutions that garner public support for the demands that an increasingly larger aging population will have on the private family.”

Biography

Professor Weaver teaches Family Law, Advanced Family Law, Professional Responsibility, and Children and the Law.  She joined the tenure track faculty in 2009 and became the first African American female to earn tenure at SMU Dedman School of Law in 2015.   She is an expert in child welfare law and public policy, and much of her scholarship focuses on theorizing methods for improvement of the legal systems and policies affecting families and children.  Her current research and scholarship focus on the exploration of a theoretical basis to support a unified legal approach to intergenerational caregiving for children and senior citizens.  She also researches and writes about the intersection of race, gender, and family law.  One of her works in progress focuses on the influence of slavery laws on the legal structure and identity of American families during the ante-bellum era, as well as how these laws impacted the development of divorce, child custody and child support laws. 
 
Professor Weaver has been invited to present her research and articles at a number of prestigious law schools, including Yale, University of California Berkeley, Washington University, Emory, Washington and Lee, Brigham Young, and Fordham.   Her publications have covered a wide array of topics, including the overrepresentation of African-American children in the child welfare system, multigenerational living and intergenerational caregiving, psychological abuse of children, child homelessness, and ethical issues arising from the use of state promulgated forms in family courts.  Professor Weaver’s articles have been cited by top family law and feminist legal scholars as well as excerpted in law casebooks.  One of her articles entitled, "Grandma in the White House:  Legal Support for Intergenerational Caregiving," 43 Seton Hall Law Review 1 (2013)(lead article), garnered the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama, who sent her personal letter of thanks on behalf of her mother, Mrs. Marian Robinson. 
 
Professor Weaver is an active faculty member on campus and within the legal academy.  In 2014, Professor Weaver was featured on SMU’s Year of the Faculty website, which highlighted faculty who had been newsmakers through their respective achievements.  She is a past chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Children and the Law, and was co-chair of the 2015 Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference.  In 2015, she received the Faculty Appreciation Award from the SMU Women in Law organization, and the SMU Black Law Students Association honored her with an award in her name to be given to a graduating 3L who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and made significant contributions to the law school.
 
Professor Weaver received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she served as notes development editor of the Virginia Law Review. She began her legal career in 1995 with the national firm of Littler Mendelson, and eventually began a solo practice in 1997.  She practiced in the areas of juvenile, employment and business law before coming to SMU Dedman School of Law in 2002.  Professor Weaver served as the first Director of the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Child Advocacy Clinic for seven years.  During her time as Director, the clinic received the 2006 11th Annual Equal Justice Award from Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Inc.  In 2009, the Texas Lawyer recognized Professor Weaver as an Extraordinary Minority in Texas Law for her work as a clinic director and child advocate.  

Areas of Expertise

  • Child Welfare Law
  • Children's Rights
  • Family Law
  • Legal Ethics
  • Feminist Legal Issues

Education

B.A., University of Pennsylvania
J.D., University of Virginia

Courses

Children and the Law
Family Law
Advanced Family Law Seminar
Professional Responsibility

Books

FAMILY LAW SIMULATIONS:  BRIDGE TO PRACTICE (West Academic, forthcoming 2017)

FAMILY LAW:  CASES & MATERIALS (Carolina Academic Press, forthcoming 2017) (with Jacquelyn Bridgeman & Angela Onwuachi-Willig)

Articles

Beyond Child Welfare:  Theories on Child Homelessness, 21 Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice 16 (2014)

Overstepping Ethical Boundaries? Limitations on State Efforts to Provide Access to Justice in Family Courts, 82 Fordham Law Review 2705 (2014)

Grandma in the White House: Legal Support for Intergenerational Caregiving, 43 Seton Hall Law Review 1 (2013) (lead article) (cited in D. Kelly Weisberg & Susan F. Appleton, Modern Family Law:  Cases and Materials 360 (5th ed., 2013) and excerpted in Nina A. Kohn, Elder Law:  Cases, Problems & Exercises 595-96, 597 (2013))

The Principle of Subsidiarity Applied: Reforming the Legal Framework to Capture the Psychological Abuse of Children, 18 Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law 247 (2011) (excerpted in Katherine Hunt Federle, Children and the Law:  An Interdisciplinary Approach with Cases, Materials and Comments, 553-54 (Oxford University Press 2012)

The Texas Mis-step: Why the Largest Child Removal in Modern U.S. History Failed, Vol. 16 William & Mary Journal of Women & Law 449 (2010) (lead article)

The African-American Child Welfare Act: A Legal Redress for African-American Disproportionality in Child Protection Cases, 10 Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy 109 (2008)

Publications

The First Father:  Perspectives on the President’s Fatherhood Initiative, 50 Family Court Review 297 (2012) (cited in Clare Huntington, Failure to flourish:  How Law Undermines Family Relationships 41 (2014)

 African-American Single Grandmothers:  Does the Gender-Entrapment Theory Apply? Essay Response to Professor Beth Richie, 37 Washington University Journal of Law & Social Policy 153 (2011)
 

Presentations

Vulnerability, Resistant Assets, and Reciprocal Exchange
2015 Lutie A. Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop
Vanderbilt University School of Law
(July 11, 2015)
 
2015 AALS Midyear Meeting
"Workshop on Shifting Foundations:  Family Law’s Response to Changing Families”
Orlando, Florida 
(June 24, 2015)
 
Emerging Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference
Florida A&M College of Law
(June 22, 2015)
 
Invited Panelist
Law and Society Association Annual Meeting:  Aging and Inequalities
(May 30, 2015)
 
Selected Panelist
A Workshop on Theorizing the State:  The Resources of Vulnerability
Emory University School of Law
(December 6, 2014)

The Fluid Family Theory
Invited Panelist
The Future of Families and Family Law
Brigham Young University School of Law
(October 10, 2014)

30 Year Anniversary of the Feminism and Legal Theory Project Roundtable
Invited Panelist
Law and Society Association Annual Meeting: Law and Inequalities: Global and Local
(May 30, 2014)

Slavery and the Origins of Family Law
2014 Lutie A. Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop
University of Wisconsin School of Law
(June 27, 2014)

Emerging Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference
University of Minnesota Law School
(May 28, 2014)

The Impact of Slavery on Private Family Law
Competitively Selected Presenter
2014 Critical Race Theory Conference
“Re-Envisioning Race in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era: New Approaches in Critical Race Theory"
Yale Law School
(April 5, 2014)

Selected Panelist
Mid-Atlantic People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference 2014
University of Baltimore School of Law
(January 24, 2014)

Beyond Child Welfare: Theories on Child Homelessness
Invited Panelist
Symposium 2014: Emerging Issues in Child Welfare
Washington and Lee University School of Law
(February 28, 2014)

Overstepping Ethical Boundaries? Limitations on State Efforts to Provide Access to Justice in Family Courts
Invited Participant
2013 Stein Ethics Center Colloquium
Legal Monopoly of Lawyers
Fordham Law School
(October 18, 2013)

Child Sexual Victimization:  When Abused Children Become Neglectful Mothers                            
2013 Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference
Children in the Law Discussion Group
(August 4, 2013)
 
Brown Bag Lunch Visiting Scholar Presentation
Emory University School of Law
(November 8, 2012)
available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlZ0gzKxrZ0
 
2012 Lutie A. Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop
Suffolk University Law School
(June 30, 2012)
 
Sustaining Families: Global and Local Perspectives
Mid-West Family Law Consortium and International Society of Family Law
University of Iowa School of Law
(June 14, 2012)
 
Emerging Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference
Fordham Law School
(May 22, 2012)
 
Grandma in the White House: Legal Support for Intergenerational Caregiving
Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting
AALS Section on Children and the Law Panel Presentation
“Evolving Responsibilities: The Impact of Recent Trends on Children and Families”
(January 5, 2013)

Faculty Development Brown Bag Workshop
Georgia State University School of Law
(November 6, 2012) 
 
Faculty Enrichment Workshop
University of Florida Levin College of Law
(November 2, 2012)
 
Sustaining Families:  Global and Local Perspectives
Mid-West Family Law Consortium and International Society of Family Law
University of Iowa School of Law                
(June 16, 2012)
 
SMU Faculty Forum
Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
(April 12, 2012)
 
2011 Lutie A. Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop
Texas Southern  University
Thurgood Marshall School of Law
(June 18, 2011)
 
Feminism and Legal Theory / Vulnerability and the Human Condition Projects Workshop
Emory University School of Law
(January 22, 2011)

The First Father: Perspectives on the President’s Fatherhood Initiative
2011 Law and Society Association Annual Meeting
“The Future of Fatherhood,” San  Francisco
(June 4, 2011)

Emerging Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference 2011
University of California Hastings College of Law
(June 1, 2011)

African-American Grandmothers: Does the Gender Entrapment Theory Apply?
Art, Life & Law
“Sharing ideas, experiences and solutions: a conversation surrounding kinship care within the African American family”
South Dallas Cultural Center
(June 22, 2012)

Invited Commentator for Keynote Speaker Professor Beth E. Richie
Access to Justice Symposium
Washington University School of Law
Saint Louis, MO
(March 28, 2011)

The Principal of Subsidiarity Applied: Reforming the Legal Framework to Capture the Psychological Abuse of Children
Invited Speaker
Blue Ribbon Task Force
San Antonio, TX
(June 18, 2012)

Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting
Poster Presentation
(January 7, 2011)

Capturing the Psychological Abuse of Children
Feminism and Legal Theory Project Workshop
Emory University School of Law
(March 20 2010)




 

Media

Same Sex Marriage Rulings
Live Television Interview
Fox 4 News, Good Day
(October 7, 2014)
(available online at http://www.myfoxdfw.com/clip/10663620/same-sex-marriage)

Mother arrested at D/FW Airport after returning to U.S. with son
Interview
Dallas Morning News
(July 10, 2014)

Texas Inmates encounter a hitch in their wedding plans
Interview
Dallas Morning News
(February 23, 2014)

Deadly Affection: Part 2 – ‘Better tools, better education’
Video Interview
Dallas Morning News
(February 2, 2014)
(available at http://res.dallasnews.com/interactives/2014_deadlyaffection/part2/index.html)

Radio Interview
(regarding Affluenza case involving teen accused of drunk driving and manslaughter)
CBS Radio - Dallas, KLIF FM
(December 18, 2013)
(available at http://www.smu.edu/News/2013/jessica-weaver-ap-18dec2013)

Texas Prosecutor seeks to put ‘affluenza’ teen behind bars
Interview
Reuters
(December 18, 2013)
(available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/18/us-usa-affluenza-texas-idUSBRE9BH1IS20131218)

Prosecutors: No Appeal Options in Texas Wreck Case
Associated Press
(December 16, 2013)
(http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/prosecutors-appeal-options-texas-wreck-case-21238012)

Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage
Live Television Interview
WFAA News Channel 8, Good Morning Texas
(June 26, 2013)
(available at https://www.smu.edu/News/2013/supreme-court-marriage-ruling-26june2013?c=hpHeadlineNews_Professor-Jessica-Weaver-provides-commentary-on-U-)

Same-Sex Marriage Supreme Court Rulings
Television Interview
CW News Channel 33
(June 26, 2013)
(available at https://www.smu.edu/News/2013/supreme-court-marriage-ruling-26june2013?c=hpHeadlineNews_Professor-Jessica-Weaver-provides-commentary-on-U-)

Deion Sanders divorce drama: Conflict of interest?
Television Interview,
WFAA News Channel 8
April 26, 2012
(available at http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Same-McKinney-law-firm-represents-Sanders-and-town-that-filed-charges-against-him-and-wife-149139855.html#)

Extraordinary Minorities in Texas Law
Texas Lawyer, Vol. 25, No. 26, Section 2
(September 28, 2009)

CPS actions in polygamist sect case puzzle some child welfare experts
Interview
Dallas Morning News
(June 18, 2008)
(available at http://smu.edu/newsinfo/excerpts/jessica-dixon-dmn-18june2008.asp)

High Court upholds polygamist sect case decision
Television Interview
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
(May 29, 2008)
(available at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/24881533#24881533)

Polygamy Ruling Raises Legal Debate on State Power
Live Television Interview
News Hour with Jim Lehrer
(May 22, 2008)
(available at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/jan-june08/sectkids_05-22.html)

Sweep of Polygamists’ Kids Raise Legal Questions
Interview
Associated Press
(April 25, 2008)
(available at http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-04-26-polygamist-retreat_N.htm)

Mothers Tell Their Side of the Story
Television Interview
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
(April 16, 2008)
(available at http://www.smu.edu/flashvideo/?id=196)

Child Advocacy and Options after Foster Care
Radio Interview
KNON, KERA 90.1FM, Think! Radio Show
(November 20, 2006)
(available at http://smu.edu/newsinfo/stories/jessica-dixon-kera-20nov2006.asp)

 
 

Other

Works in Progress

Slavery and the Origins of Family Law
 
Vulnerability, Resistant Assets, and Reciprocal Exchange
                       
The Fluid Family Theory
 
Child Sexual Victimization: When Abused Children Become Neglectful Mothers
 
Father Chasing:  Ethical Duties in the Establishment of Voluntary Paternity