Marygold S. Melli, 1926-2018

Professor of Law Emerita

In Memoriam 1926-2018


LL.B., University of Wisconsin Law School


Marygold Shire Melli (Margo) is Voss-Bascom Professor of Law Emerita and an affiliate of The Institute for Research on Poverty. She taught in the areas of family law, juvenile law and criminal law: the areas she calls the people-handling parts of the law. Her specialty was family law which she developed from one two-credit course to two three-credit courses in recognition of the increasing complexity of the area. She also developed courses in Law of the Elderly and Juvenile Justice.

Professor Melli's research interests relate primarily to families and children. She has participated in a large-scale research project that resulted in reform of the Wisconsin child support system and that served as a model for the requirement by the federal government that states adopt Child Support Guidelines. She has researched and written about the role of negotiation in divorce, various aspects of the processing of divorce cases, and developments in the law of child custody. She is a member of the American Law Institute and the International Society of Family Law where she currently serves as a vice-president and as chair of the Scientific Committee, screening papers and planning the program for the ISFL 12th World Conference in 2005.

As a member of the legal profession, she has been involved at several levels in the bar examination process. She has served as vice-chair of the Wisconsin Supreme Court's Board of Lawyer Competence and as Chair of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, the organization which develops the most widely used exams for the admission of lawyers to practice.

She is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and was the founding Executive Editor of its Journal. She has served as Chair of the Family Law Section of the Wisconsin State Bar and for many years has contributed a quarterly review of Wisconsin family law cases to the Wisconsin Journal of Family Law, a publication of the Family Law Section. She has been honored by the Wisconsin Law Foundation with the Belle Case LaFollette Award for outstanding service to the profession, by the State Bar of Wisconsin for lifelong contributions to the advancement of women in the legal profession and by the Family Law Section of the Wisconsin Bar for outstanding service to the Family Law Section.

At the University level, she has served as Associate Dean of the Law School, and as Chair of the University Committee, which is the executive committee of the University faculty. She has served as Chair of a Chancellor's Task Force on Gender Equity and as Co-Chair of a Regents' Task Force on The Status of Women. She has been honored by the U.W. System with the Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Advancement of Women in Higher Education.

Professor Melli counts the significant increase in the number of women in the legal profession as one of the most encouraging developments during her career. When she joined the faculty in 1959, she was the only woman professor on the Law School faculty and there were only a handful of women law students. Today nearly half of the tenure-track faculty and the law students are women.

Some Representative Publications

"Exploring A New Family Form - The Shared Time Family,"  22 International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 231 (2008).

"Child Custody" in International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family (James J. Ponzetti, Jr. ed.) (2003).

Whatever Happened to Divorce: 2000 Wis. L. Rev. 637 (2000).

Guideline Review: Child Support and Time Sharing by Parents, 33 Family Law Quarterly 219 (1999).

The Changing World of Postdissolution Child Custody (with P. Brown and M. Cancian) 1997 Ill. L. Rev. 773 (1997).

The Law of Marriage and Divorce in the United States in Levi, Giulio (ed.) Rotondi: Inchieste di Diritto Comparato (1997).

The Economics of Shared Custody: Developing an Equitable Formula for Dual Residence, (with P. Brown) 31 Houston L. Rev, 543 (1994); IRP Reprint Series, No. 712 (Institute for Research on Poverty, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison).

Bargaining Under No-Fault Divorce, 9 Fairshare 3 (May 1989) reprinted in R.L. Brown (ed.) Encyclopedia of Matrimonial Practice (1991).

The Use of Normative Standards in Family Law Decisions: Developing Mathematical Standards for Child Support (with I. Garfinkel) 24 Family Law Quarterly 157 (1990). Reprinted in Child Support Assurance (I. Garfinkel, S. McLanahan & P. Robins, eds. 1992).

The Process of Negotiation: An Exploratory Investigation in the Context of No-Fault Divorce (with H. Erlanger and E. Chambliss) 40 Rutgers Law Rev. 1133 (1988); Excerpt reprinted in Brinig, Schneider and Teitelbaum, Family Law In Action: A Reader (1999), in Harris, Teitelbaum and Weisbrod, Family Law (1996) and in Rau, Sherman and Murray, Dispute Resolution and Lawyers (1988).

Constructing a Social Problem: The Post Divorce Plight of Women and Children; Essay Review of the Divorce Revolution by Lenore J. Weitzman, 1986 American Bar Foundation Research Journal 759 (1986). Excerpt reprinted in Harris, Teitelbaum and Weisbrod, Family Law (1996) and in Campbell (ed.) The International Library of Essays in Law and Legal Theory (1992).

The Changing Legal Status of the Single Parent, 35 Family Relations 31 (1986). Excerpt reprinted in Scanzoni and Scanzoni, Men, Women and Change: A Sociology of Marriage and the Family (McGraw-Hill 1987).

Preparation of an Essay Question for a Bar Exam, 51 The Bar Examiner 10 (1982).

The Law Governing Transracial Adoptions, chapter in The Case for Transracial Adoption, —'®. Simon, H. Alstein, and M.S. Melli) (1994).

Toward a Restructuring of Custody Decisionmaking at Divorce: An Alternative Approach to the Best Interests of the Child in Parenthood in Modern Society (J. Eekelaar and P. Sarcevic, eds.) (1993).

Child Support Awards: A Study of the Exercise of Judicial Discretion (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Institute for Research on Poverty, Discussion Paper 734-83) (1983).

Wisconsin Juvenile Court Practice (Youth Policy and Law Center 1978; 2d ed., Wis. State Bar, 1983).

The Legal Status of Women in Wisconsin (Commission on International Women's Year 1977).

Scholarship & Publications

Law Repository

News & Media

Teaching Areas

  • Family Law
  • Juvenile Law
no courses found
Lock iconProfile Admin