Family Law Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Life Events & Divorce

From Fox News:

Late last month, Boston Marathon bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory made headlines with the sad news that she was separating from her husband—who was also injured in the blast—less than one year after their dream wedding. Without knowing the couple, it’s impossible to say what contributed to the dissolution of their marriage, but it’s probably safe to say that the stresses of the last few years (surgeries, rehabilitation, major physical changes) may have played a role.

And while not everyone has to deal with things this catastrophic, most couples do face plenty of stressors and life changes, both big and small. We asked Elizabeth Ochoa, PhD, marriage counselor and chief psychologist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, to weigh in on life events that can sometimes lead to divorce—and how to protect your relationship from their harmful effects.

Read more here.

May 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 25, 2015

CA Child Custody Case

From Bakersfield Now:

A Bakersfield woman continues to try and regain sole custody of her 8-year-old daughter in an unusual child custody battle.

The girl is currently living with the father, 56-year-old Nicholas Elizondo, who is a registered sex offender.

Elizondo was convicted in 1995 after pleading no contest to one count of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

In June 2013, Elizondo traveled to Oklahoma to gain custody of his daughter, and after a lengthy battle, a judge awarded full custody of the child to Elizondo.

Read more here.

May 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Adoption in Michigan

From the Detroit Free Press:

On 4-1 party-line votes, the Senate Families Seniors and Human Services passed three bills that will allow Faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to serve prospective parents based on their religious beliefs.

The bills, which would allow the agencies to refuse service to same-sex or unmarried couples if that goes against their religious beliefs, are moving as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments next week on whether same-sex marriage should be legal in Michigan and several other states.

The vote came after two hours of testimony from a wide group of supporters and opponents, including several gay and straight parents who have adopted children.

Read more here.

May 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tragedy May Lead to Legal Changes

From USA Today:

The deaths of two siblings discovered stuffed in a freezer in their Detroit home will lead to changes in policy and prevent future tragedies.  It was a message repeated throughout the joint funeral service for Stephen Gage Berry and Stoni Ann Blair at Greater Grace Temple.

Read more here.

May 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Parental Rights in the 4th Circuit

From Fox News:

A lawyer for a radical Muslim convert imprisoned for supporting terrorism urged a federal appeals court...to revive the man's parental rights lawsuit, which a judge had dismissed as frivolous.

Jason LaFond told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Zachary Chesser's complaint against his mother and FBI agents, while lengthy and complicated, was not fanciful and was supported by numerous documents.

The judge who dismissed the lawsuit "didn't say whether it was factually or legally frivolous, but it was neither," LaFond said.

Court papers show that Chesser attempted to join the al-Shabab terrorist group in Somalia, taking his baby with him to the airport in an attempt to look less suspicious.

Read more here.

May 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

On Child Support

From The Wall Street Journal:

With little public attention, the Obama administration has been changing America’s child-support enforcement. The most recent Census Bureau report found that in 2011 fewer than 50% of single mothers had child-support orders—down from almost 60% in 2003. At least part of this decline reflects the administration’s shifting the focus from helping single parents with children toward helping absent parents who say they can’t afford payments. This is good news for delinquents, but bad news for children already coping with not having two parents at home.

Making absent parents (usually fathers) provide financial help for their children used to have bipartisan support and plenty of media attention. Begun in 1975 and strengthened by the 1996 welfare reform, child-support enforcement is one of the few antipoverty programs that stresses personal responsibility over government dependency. State child-support enforcement agencies—with federal funding—use wage garnishments and other techniques to hold absent parents responsible for contributing financially to the care of their children.

Read more here.

May 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Absence of Marriage

From CNN.com:

The collapse of marriage in our poorest communities -- and its tragic impact -- is a familiar story. But increasingly, marriage is becoming a marker of class privilege in America, something increasingly reserved for the affluent. If progressives want to tackle the scourge of inequality, then the retreat from marriage is an issue they can't ignore.

The reality is that the retreat from marriage is pervading the working middle class -- the two-thirds of Americans without a college degree. This is occurring even as in upscale America, marital bonds remain comparatively strong.

Read more here.

May 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 18, 2015

An Inter-Caste Marriage

From Chandigarh Tribune:

An inter-caste marriage turned sour right on the day of the wedding, but a Delhi court, finding itself in a peculiar situation, expressed its inability to grant divorce or help the parties reach an agreement.

The court found itself in a tight spot as the woman in her divorce plea simply said it was a “mistake” to tie the knot with a man, who complained of being forced and threatened to sign the documents for dissolving the marriage by his father-in-law, a policeman, for belonging to different caste.

The family court presided by Principal Judge Girish Kathpalia observed that any opposition to marriage on the ground of caste difference is in “violation of law” and persuaded in vain that the couple lived together.

Read more here.

May 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Horvath & Ryznar: "Protecting the Parent-Child Relationship"

Kristy Horvath & Margaret Ryznar have just published Protecting the Parent-Child Relationship, George Washington International Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 303-326, 2015.  Here is the abstract:

In 2014, Japan became the last G7 industrialized nation to sign the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. In order for the Convention to provide effective relief to parents in Japan, this Article recommends examining joint custody, visitation, and the best interests of the child standard. This would track the developments in custody law that resulted in the modern custody framework in the United States.

May 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Re-Homing Children

From The Washington Post:

The sisters were supposed to be moving out of neglect and chaos and into the stability of their forever home. For one of those girls, however, Arkansas Rep. Justin Harris’s house came to represent something very different: a temporary stopping point on the way to some place much, much worse.

A series of stories by the Arkansas Times revealed that Harris — a day-care owner, a vociferous defender of his Christian faith and a prominent figure in the state’s Republican Party — put two young girls he adopted in the care of a man who later sexually abused one of them.

More shocking still: What Harris did, unofficially giving away an adopted child, is not illegal in Arkansas.

Read more here.

May 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Economics of Divorce

From NBC News:

Divorce can be a one-way ticket down the road to financial instability for many women, especially for those who are middle class or low-income.

It can mean a loss of work hours, more time (and expense) devoted to childcare and a cold slap in the face when it comes to finding a job or finishing an education.

While working-class women tend to be hit harder, not having a job, money or credit of their own is a challenge that can affect women of all socioeconomic brackets, said Bruce McClary, spokesman at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. "In a lot of situations you have that career interrupted... It can be very messy in that situation because they have to start right from scratch."

Read more here.

May 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Impact of Health on Marriage

From The Washington Post:

It's well-established that, with some exceptions, married people live longer and healthier lives than unmarried people. But until recently, researchers hadn't conducted a very thorough examination of how well a marriage survives when one partner becomes seriously ill.

The results of that effort probably won't cheer anyone -- least of all women. When a wife falls ill, there is a 6 percent greater chance that a later-life marriage will end in divorce than there is if she remains healthy. When a husband becomes sick, there is no impact on the odds that the couple will divorce.

Read more here.

May 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Divorce Still Discouraged in Various Cultures

From The Washington Post:

Chitra’s experience is an increasingly common one in the United States. While divorce is an accepted and relatively easy process in Western countries, it has remained stigmatized in growing Asian immigrant communities, particularly where arranged marriages are still the norm. Even discussing marital problems is limited. Divorce rates for the 3.5 million people of South Asian descent in the United States. are extremely low, but that’s not necessarily because they’ve selected better mates or constructed healthier unions. While the U.S. government doesn’t track the divorce rate for Indian Americans specifically, expert estimates range from1 percent to 15 percent, compared to a divorce rate of 44 percent for all Americans. (In India, divorce is even less common – just one in 1,000 marriages ends in divorce.)

Chitra’s story, and the emotional suffering of other South Asian men and women whom I help as a counselor, show why those numbers are so concerning. Husbands and wives are forced by social pressure originating 8,000 miles away to stay in emotionally unhealthy and abusive relationships.

Read more here.

May 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kenyan Family Law Changes Fail

From The Star:

MPs yesterday threw out a Bill that if passed, would have given men an equal right of access and upkeep of children born out of wedlock.

The Bill by Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma sought amendments to the Children's Act that would also have allowed fathers the right to live with and provide for their children without accommodating their mothers.

Close to 100 MPs against 65 voted to defeat the Bill that can only be reintroduced after six months.

Currently, the law compels a man who has sired a child with a woman outside wedlock to take full responsibility of the child, including care to the mother.

Read more here.

May 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ryznar: "Alimony's Job Lock"

Margaret Ryznar has posted Alimony's Job Lock, Akron Law Review (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In family law, courts often prevent people who owe alimony from changing jobs: if a job change is accompanied by a salary decrease, the court will not readjust the alimony obligation and instead impute the higher income to the obligor. This Article introduces the term “job lock” to describe this situation, borrowing the term from the healthcare context, wherein job immobility due to health insurance concerns has received significant scrutiny. This Article advocates applying the same scrutiny to the alimony context, proposing a balancing test to assist courts in recalculating alimony in certain cases of an obligor’s job change.

May 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

65/35 Custody Split Bill Postponed in Nebraska

Change provisions relating to the Parenting Act have been indefinitely postponed in Nebraska.

From 1011now:

Sen. Laura Ebke (Crete) [had] introduced a bill that would encourage judges to more fairly divide custody between separated parents. LB-437 asks that judges split custody by at least 65/35, unless there are circumstances in a case that warrant less visitation.

Ebke says it's important for kids to have both parents in their lives.  "Parents and kids alike, you know, thrive off of each other. The things that a young lady or a young man get from their parents are different. Moms and dads are different creatures and so it's good for them to have exposure to both."

Read more here.

May 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Ryznar: "The Odd Couple: The Estate Tax and Family Law"

Margaret Ryznar has posted The Odd Couple: The Estate Tax and Family Law, Louisiana Law Review (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Although the estate tax is dynamic and frequently the center of tax policy debates, the right to inherit in the United States and many other countries is well-established. In the United States, inheritance rights are deeply rooted in the law. There also have been many economic arguments offered to support inheritance rights, often hinged on the positive incentives created by inheritance. However, there is another important reason for inheritance that this Article considers—the family.

 

May 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

20-Year-Old Divorce Claim in England

From BBC News:

A woman has won a landmark Supreme Court bid to claim cash from her millionaire ex-husband, 20 years after they divorced.

Kathleen Wyatt, 55, first took legal action against Dale Vince, 53, founder of wind-power firm Ecotricity, in 2011.

Mr Vince had previously appealed against his ex-wife on the basis she had lodged the claim too late. But five Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled Ms Wyatt's case should go before the family court.

Delivering the ruling, Lord Wilson said the court must have regard "to the contribution of each party to the welfare of the family, including by looking after the home or caring for the family".

Read more here.

May 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Stępień-Sporek & Ryznar: "The Consequences of Non-Marriages"

Anna Stępień-Sporek & Margaret Ryznar have posted The Consequences of Non-Marriages, University of San Francisco Law Review (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In several British surveys, the majority of people thought that cohabitants had the same legal status as married couples. However, this could not be farther from the truth—the law treats them as nothing more than strangers, albeit often with contractual capabilities to protect themselves in the event their cohabitation ends. A minority of American states, however, have refused even contract rights to cohabitants, with Illinois leading this contingent. In late 2014, however, an Illinois appellate court dramatically diverged from the state’s well-established precedent, determining that a recent change in public policy required recognizing property consequences of cohabitation. The legal framework on cohabitation is even more dynamic in Europe, ranging from no protection to equal protection that is provided in marriage, depending on the country. This Article therefore takes a comparative approach to examining the appropriate regulation of cohabitation and whether protections should be offered to cohabitants as their number continues to grow on both sides of the ocean.

May 8, 2015 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Adoption Records in IN

From IBJ.com:

A proposal that would have expanded Indiana adoptees' access to more than 50 years of sealed records appears to be dead this session, to the disappointment of some advocates.

The records of children in Indiana who were adopted between 1941 and 1994 are currently sealed, preventing hundreds of thousands of adoptees from finding their biological parents.

"It's like starting a book on chapter two," said Pam Kroskie, president of Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records, one of the organizations behind the effort. "You're missing that piece of the puzzle."

The measure would have made accessing birth records easier for those born during that time period. In 1994, state law changed to require biological parents to sign an official form, indicating whether or not the state can disclose their information. Lawmakers agreed at the time to seal records for the preceding decades to protect those who did not expect their information to be readily available.

Read more here.

May 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)