Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, July 25, 2016

Call for Papers--Children’s Legal Rights Journal

Children’s Legal Rights Journal
Call for Papers
Issue 1, 2016
Children and the Law

About the CLRJ. The Children’s Legal Rights Journal is a national journal sponsored by Loyola University Chicago School of Law in cooperation with the National Association of Counsel for Children. We publish articles on a variety of children’s legal issues and we are the only journal in the country addressing legal needs of children.
Visit our website to check out past issues:
Submission Details. We invite you to submit articles that address children and the law. We will be accept and review articles on a rolling basis until August 15, 2016.
Submissions should be previously unpublished pieces based on original work. All submissions should be between 15 and 60 pages (double-spaced) and formatted according to the Bluebook.

Contact Information. All submissions and questions can be sent directly to CHILDLRJ@LUC.EDU. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. You can also contact CLRJ via mail and facsimile:
Erika C. Weaver
Solicitations Editor
25 E. Pearson, 11th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 312.915.6481

July 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Guardian view on Ellie Butler’s murder: human fallibility?

From The Guardian:

The family justice system has few admirers. Its clients come into contact with it at moments of stress and anger. It has to make the hard decisions that parents have been unwilling or incapable of making for themselves. Its judges are highly trained; they work within a clear legal framework. But in the end, they are still humans making human judgments, vulnerable to human error – occasionally on a tragic scale.

It was a ruling by an experienced high court judge that sent Ellie Butler, aged six, to live with, and soon to die at the hands of, her father, Ben Butler. Only a few months after her return, he subjected her to such a violent attack that he killed her. Sentencing him for the murder on Tuesday, the judge told him: “You are a self-absorbed, ill-tempered, violent and domineering man who, I am satisfied, regarded your children and your partner as trophies.” This was the same man who four years earlier was sent home in charge of his daughter with another judge’s warm and sympathetic character assessment ringing in his ears. “I wish the parents well,” said Mrs Justice Hogg, “they deserve joy and happiness.”

Read more here.

July 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Bizarre New Zika Infection in Utah

From The Atlantic:

Scientists are bewildered by a new and disturbing development involving the Zika virus in Utah, where a patient who contracted the virus recently died. Officials announced on Monday they’re investigating how a person who cared for the patient who died also became infected.

“Based on what is known now, the person has not recently traveled to an area with Zika and has not had sex with someone who is infected with Zika or who has traveled to an area with Zika,” the Utah Department of Health wrote in a statement on Monday. “In addition, there is no evidence at this time that mosquitoes that commonly spread Zika virus are in Utah.”

The department described the deceased as someone who had “a uniquely high amount of virus in the blood.” The death marked the first known Zika fatality in the United States.

Read more here.

July 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Opportunity: Be a Facilitator at Marion County Unrepresented Litigants Family Law Facilitation Program

From the IndyBar:

Dear Senior Judge/Domestic Relations Attorney,

I am writing to you to invite you to participate in Marion County’s new Unrepresented Litigant (“URL”) Family Law facilitation program. In October of 2015 Marion County received a Court Reform Grant from the Indiana Supreme Court.

The purpose of the Court Reform Grant is to provide lawyer/facilitators (“facilitators”) who can give direction on family law matters and civil procedure to URLs without providing legal advice. The program will be coordinated through the Family Resource Center to aid and assist the increasing caseload in family law cases spurred on by URLs.

As a facilitator your duties would include: assisting in financial screening, discussing the issues and difficulties of self-representation and the complex issues involved in family law matters involving children and assets, the consequences of mishandling a legal proceeding and the benefits of legal representation. You may also make recommendations to the Family Resource Center Coordinator of those URLs for whom a referral to the appropriate legal service provider or pro bono counsel would be appropriate. Depending on the URLs financial circumstances, they may qualify for legal assistance or pro bono counsel through our partners at Heartland.

Read more here.

July 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Carolyn Hax: A separated couple is struggling to find a way to reconcile

From the Washington Post:

Dear Carolyn: I’ve been separated from my wife of 19 years and three kids for a few months. The separation stemmed from my infidelity — a mistake I made to run from my marital problems instead of to communicate, try to work through them and take a stand for my happiness. It was cowardly, and I regret it deeply.

We are in couples counseling and both want to find a way to reconcile, but we are struggling to get there. She can’t forgive me, and I am unable to convince her I am sorry enough without completely submitting and denying my authenticity.

I miss my kids terribly and this is hard on them. The truth is, though, that I want to reconcile only to unify the family. For all our sakes, personally and financially. Spending time alone with my wife is something I dread, as she is angry, judgmental and constantly telling me all the things I’m doing wrong. This describes our marriage previous to the infidelity.

When is it time to give up and move on? I’m living half a life.


Read more here.

July 22, 2016 in Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review of Splitopia

Professors Naomi Cahn (GW) & Jana Singer (UM) recently reviewed Splitopia by Wendy Paris--Download it here.

July 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Central States Law Schools Conference

Registration is now open for the Central States Law Schools Association 2016 Scholarship Conference, which will be held on Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24 at the University of North Dakota School of Law in Grand Forks, ND. We invite law faculty from across the country to submit proposals to present papers or works in progress.
CSLSA is an organization of law schools dedicated to providing a forum for conversation and collaboration among law school academics. The CSLSA Annual Conference is an opportunity for legal scholars, especially more junior scholars, to present on any law-related topic in a relaxed and supportive setting where junior and senior scholars from various disciplines are available to comment. More mature scholars have an opportunity to test new ideas in a less formal setting than is generally available for their work. Scholars from member and nonmember schools are invited to attend. 

Please click here to register. The deadline for registration is September 2, 2016.  

Hotel rooms are now available for pre-booking. The conference hotel is the Hilton Garden Inn in Grand Forks. The hotel phone number is (701) 775-6000. When booking, identify yourself as part of the “UND School of Law” block to receive a daily rate of $89. Please note that conference participants are responsible for all of their own travel expenses including hotel accommodations.

For more information about CSLSA and the 2016 Annual Conference please subscribe to our blog.
We look forward to seeing you in Grand Forks!


The 2016 CSLSA Board
For more information about CSLSA, visit our website at or contact a board member.

July 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Programme aims to help people affected by 'parental alienation'

From The Guardian:

Parental alienation – a phenomenon where one parent poisons their child against the other parent – has become such a feature of the most difficult family breakdowns that Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, is to offer targeted support for those affected following a government-funded intensive therapeutic pilot programme.

Distinct from the all-too-common acrimony between divorcing parents, the syndrome is an internationally recognised phenomenon. In America and Canada, “parenting coordinators” are ordered and supervised by the courts to help restore relationships between parents and children identified as “alienated”. In Mexico and Brazil, alienating a child from a parent is a criminal act.

Psychiatrist Richard Gardner developed the concept 20 years ago, defining it as “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.”

Read more here.

July 20, 2016 in Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds), Resources - Child Custody, Resources - Child Support, Resources - Children & the Law, Resources - Divorce, Visitation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Marital Home Purchased Before Marriage: How Is It Treated?


When a person buys a home before he or she is married, this property is usually considered his or her own separate property. However, the other spouse may have a right to some of the home’s equity upon divorce despite this classification. Also, steps may have been taken so that the property is no longer considered separate and is now subject to division in the divorce action.

By Agreement

If the couple entered into a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and this agreement specifies information about the property, the terms of the agreement will dictate how the property is divided, if at all.

Common Law Divorce

The vast majority of states use a common law system regarding property ownership. In these states, the deed, registration or other ownership documents often indicate which party owns what. If both parties’ names are on the title, they each own a half interest in the property. Property that was owned prior to the marriage is usually considered separate property, along with individual gifts, inheritances, personal injury awards, property acquired in just one spouse’s name that is not used for the benefit of the other spouse and property agreed to be separate.

Read more here.

July 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Boys 'twice as likely to fall behind girls' in early years

From BBC News:

Save the Children says a quarter of boys in England - 90,000 - started reception class struggling to speak a full sentence or follow instructions.

The report, based on a University of Bristol study, says children who start school behind often never catch up.

A Department for Education spokesperson said "we are making a significant investment in the early years sector".

The report compared girls' and boys' scores in the early language and communication goals of the Early Years Foundation Stage assessment.

This assessment is taken at the end of Reception by all pupils in England.

Children are expected to be able to listen and express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners' needs.

Read more here.

July 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pakistani model's brother says he killed her for 'honor'

From Fox News World:

The brother of slain Pakistani model Qandeel Baloch on Sunday confessed to strangling her to death for "family honor" because she posted "shameful" pictures on Facebook.

Baloch, who had become a social media celebrity in recent months, stirred controversy by posting pictures online taken with a prominent Muslim cleric. She was found dead on Saturday at her family home in the central city of Multan.

Police arrested her brother, Waseem Azeem, and presented him before the media in Multan, where he confessed to killing her. He said people had taunted him over the photos and that he found the social embarrassment unbearable.

"I was determined either to kill myself or kill her," Azeem told The Associated Press as he was being led away.

Read more here.

July 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Controversial Pro-Life Governor is Chosen as Vice Presidential Candidate

From USA Today:

On Friday, July 16, Donald Trump made the announcement that Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, will be his running mate. Pence has been in the national spotlight due to his controversial recent bill regarding restrictions on access to abortions in Indiana. Reactions to Trump's announcement were "immediate" for pro-life and pro-choice groups.

Planned Parenthood has long stood against Pence's endeavors in Indiana and the selection of such a candidate sends a "terrifying message" to women across the nation.

Read more here.

July 16, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Jacobs: Parental Parity: Intentional Parenthood's Promise

Melanie B. Jacobs recently published Parental Parity: Intentional Parenthood's Promise, 64 Buffalo Law Review 465 (2016) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Parental Parity begins a critical dialogue regarding the reformation of legal parentage. Scholars have been advocating for more than a decade that courts and legislatures eschew traditional status based parentage (e.g., birth and biology) in the context of parentage establishment when assisted reproductive technologies (“ARTs”) are used. Parental Parity sets forth a much bolder agenda: to use intentional parenthood as the default framework to establish all legal parent-child relationships at birth. Intentional parenthood is a superior parentage establishment doctrine because it appropriately captures who should and should not be a parent. It avoids the over and under inclusive problems of traditional status based parentage. Most importantly, intentional parenthood yields parental parity: the doctrine’s neutrality prevents inherent discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, marital status, and class. While other scholars have written about the issue of intentional parenthood, no other scholar has specifically advocated for intentional parenthood as the default basis for establishing all parent-child relationships at birth. Parental Parity represents the culmination of my previous scholarship advocating against status-based parentage and sets forth a broader agenda and proposal to reform parenthood in the 21st century.

Read more here.

July 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Statistics Concerning Marriage Among British Population Shows a Move Away from Traditional Marriage

From Family Law Week:

Since 2002, Brits have been trending toward a less-than-traditional view of marriage. Many are marrying later, if at all, and are choosing cohabitation over traditional nuptials.

Read more here.

July 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Flynn--Possible Republican Vice President Nominee--States that Women Should Have the Right to Choose

From the Los Angeles Times:

After meeting with Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, Michael Flynn is rumored to have been vetted for the Vice Presidency. While being questioned about domestic relations, including same-sex marriage and abortion, the possible nominee stated that he did not believe these were big issues in America—stating that he is more concerned about national security. This runs counter to the ideologies of many Republicans—especially the idea that women should be able to have the right to terminate a pregnancy.

Read more here.

July 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Foster-Mother, Not Biological Aunt, Granted Custody of Child

From the Pittsburg-Post Gazette:

After a length court proceeding, custody of a child has been given to her foster-mother rather than her biological aunt. The child’s aunt, a Cameroonian teacher, came to the United States seeking to adopt the child at approximately the same time that the foster-mother was seeking adoption of the same. The court finally held that the foster-mother’s relationship with the child was one of tenderness, stability, and held that, ultimately, it was in the best interests of the child to remain in her custody.

Read more here.

July 12, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Illinois LGBT Community Urged to Foster Homeless LGBT Youths

From The Chicago-Sun Times

Illinois’ state child-welfare agency is urging LGBT adults to foster high-risk LGBT youth. Many of these youths are homeless due to a plethora of reasons; such as, family rejection, employment discrimination, and mental health problems stemming from stigmatization. The agency urges LGBT adults to foster the youths in effort to provide mentorship.

Read more here.

July 11, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Katie Coombs: Don't give up on family dinners

From USA Today:


At those family dinners, we all would share our best and worst thing of the day and help each other through our complicated issues. With the different opinions and different ages at the table, we learned a great deal about one another and our relationships strengthened. To this day, I am incredibly close to my brother and sister and I think that closeness began at the dinner table. My parents divorced when I was 11, but my mom kept up the tradition of the family dinner and we still get together often for dinner even though our family has now become quite large.

Many parenting sites today actually speak out against the family dinner and lessen the importance of this every sacred time together. One popular blog recently stated that “our kids are set up to want to be at table whether they are eating or not; there is no pressure to stay seated, eat stuff they do not like, or continue to eat when they are not hungry. They are welcome to come and go as they please (or not come at all).” The writer further goes on to say that “we do not require our children to sit at the dinner table with us, though most often they choose to. Sometimes they watch a YouTube video while at the table, and we ask them to turn down the volume. Sometimes they read a book, and we remind them not to knock over their water.”

Read more here.


July 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Federal judge blocks Mississippi law protecting gay-marriage bias based on religious beliefs

From the ABA Journal:

A federal judge has blocked a Mississippi law that protects those who discriminate based on a religious belief against gay marriage, premarital sex and transgender recognition.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves of Jackson, Mississippi, issued a preliminary injunction on Thursday that blocks the law, known as HB 1523, report the New York Times, the Washington Post and theClarion-Ledger.

Reeves said the law violates the establishment clause because it has “put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others.” The law also violates the equal protection clause, he said, because it authorizes arbitrary discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender and unmarried persons.

Read more here.

July 9, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Secret Superpower of a Shared-Custody Kid

From the New York Times:

At 5:25 p.m., my mother pulled into our driveway. I saw my dad’s Cadillac waiting for us and glanced at Mom, whose broad smile instantly flattened. At 10 years old, I could already read her thoughts: Pickup time was 5:30, and she wasn’t willing to suffer accusations of tardiness, just because he was Mr. Punctuality.

Six-foot-five with jet-black hair, my father cut an intimidating figure, even if I knew that he liked nothing more than to turn his long arms and legs into props as he made up the words to songs and did goofy dances. Now, he was all business, and gestured at his watch angrily.

“I still have five minutes,” my mother said. She was generally vivacious, but when feeling threatened, she could transform herself into an ice queen.

“What’s the matter with you? Daylight saving time,” my father said. He’d been waiting an hour. She had made this mistake at least once before.

Read more here.

July 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)