Brenda Feigen began her practice of family law in New York in 1974. Out of her experience as Director (with now Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) of the Women's Rights Project of the ACLU came one of her first matters in private practice: a case she brought on behalf of a father employed by the New York City Board of Education who wanted equal rights with mothers to take a parental leave of absence after his daughter was born. Ms. Feigen and her then husband went on to handle a variety of family law cases including some that required courts to take seriously requests by fathers that they be given joint custody of their children with the mothers/wives from whom they were separating. As Justice Ginsburg has been fond of saying, equality under the law is a double-edged sword: women cannot be expected to be treated equally if men are discriminated against because of their gender. Ms. Feigen also lectured and lobbied, eventually successfully, against New York's requiring that at least one party be "at fault" before a divorce could be granted.

Now, many years later, admitted to practice in California, as well as New York, Ms. Feigen drafts and negotiates both pre and post-nuptial agreements, enjoying the process because it allows her to use her skill negotiating and drafting contracts. She also represents both women and men in divorce and custody cases.

Ms. Feigen's interest in same-sex marriage, as well as the recent recognition by California of same-sex marriage is evident in the enthusiasm with which she draws up pre-nuptual agreements. She also drafts separation agreements should marriages be at an end. Part of Ms. Feigen's practice is devoted to facilitating the sharing of child custody in same-sex cases invariably involving a biological parent and an adoptive parent -- where that is appropriate and in the best interests of the children. Many years later, admitted to practice in California, as well as New York, Ms. Feigen enjoys the process of helping people join in or dissolve their marriages because it allows her to use her skill negotiating contracts. She also represents both women and men in divorce and custody cases.

A new development in our culture has brought forth a raft of matters involving the raising of children. Many people, both women and men, are deciding that they want to be parents but that they do not want to be married or even in a civil union or domestic partnership. They want to co-parent their children. The person chosen to be the co-parent could be a friend, relative or even a sperm or egg donor. That person’s role vis-à-vis the client may solely be to parent their shared children, whether biological or not. This brings on the need for sophisticated contracts detailing the exact rights and responsibilities of each parent. Furthermore, especially in same-sex unions, there may be an additional parent (of the opposite gender). That person may or may not be biologically related to the children. It is a brand new world!

Today, Ms. Feigen continues to work for equal rights for lesbians and gay men and, in particular, has fought for same-sex marriage whenever the occasion has arisen and was present for the oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases. She has contributed eight articles to the well-known website: Before the Supreme Court got involved, Ms. Feigen penned an article praising the decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in February, 2012, holding Prop 8 unconstitutional. (Click here to read) Before that she wrote about California's infamous Proposition 8 that denied marriage rights to gay men and lesbians (now overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court), (Click here to read) Another article (Click here to read) discussed DOMA (the, in her strong opinion, highly unconstitutional "Defense of Marriage Act", somewhat eviserated by the U.S. Supreme Court). However, a most troubling section of DOMA remains -- allowing states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Because of DOMA, older gays and lesbians are denied the right to marry in the majority of states and thus the rights to each other's Social Security, tax and other important benefits. Ms. Feigen is on the front lines of the fight for couples to obtain those benefits. She is excited about practicing in these areas because they intersect with Constitutional Law about which she is highly knowledgeable and one of very few lawyers who keep current in this ever-changing, highly charged legal arena. (To also read Ms. Feigen's article on same-sex marriage in the Harvard Women's Law Journal, click here.)