Family Law Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Despite the Supreme Court Ruling, Ministers Will Not Be Forced to Marry Gay Couples

From MLive.com:

Although the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage on Friday, ministers will not be forced to marry gay couples, said a professor who specializes in constitutional law.

"As of today, there are no laws in the state of Michigan requiring a minister to marry somebody they don't want to marry," said Devin Schindler, a professor for Western Michigan University's Cooley Law School.

"I don't think that is going to happen" in the future either, he said. "There are lots of arguments to the contrary," considering the religious freedoms under the U.S. Constitution that allow churches to set rules for membership and practices.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court case, explicitly addressed that question in the court's ruling.

"Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned," Kennedy wrote in his ruling. "The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered."

Read more here.

July 2, 2015 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Puerto Rico Amends Laws After U.S. Ruling on Gay Marriage

From ABC News:

Thousands of people in Puerto Rico celebrated Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling to allow gay marriage as authorities rushed to approve legislation extending marriage rights in the socially conservative U.S. territory.

Just hours after the court's decision, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order requiring government agencies to become compliant with the ruling within 15 days. As a result, the island's Health Department and other agencies are expected to begin issuing marriage licenses by early next month.

Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said that while it was not immediately clear whether the ruling also meant that gay couples in Puerto Rico could now adopt, he said he would accept and support the change.

Miranda praised the Supreme Court ruling as "a huge step in the quest for equal rights. You cannot deny people the right to love."

Read more here.

July 1, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New York Legislature Passes Alimony Laws

From The Wall Street Journal:

The New York state Senate passed sweeping revisions Wednesday to alimony laws that change how some payments are set and eliminate a long-debated requirement that judges calculate the lifetime value of a license or professional degree earned during the marriage, even if the spouse changed careers later.

The Assembly approved the bill last week.

The Senate’s action came five years after the state adopted legislation on alimony that eventually drew criticism from a wide range of bar associations and matrimonial lawyers.

That law introduced a formula to determine temporary alimony, known as maintenance, that is paid out between the filing of a divorce and its completion. It was intended to protect low-income New Yorkers, who may not able to afford lawyers, by providing predictability and consistency in awards.

It worked well for that group, many agreed. But it drew increasing opposition because it applied to people making more than $500,000 a year. Critics said it failed to account for the often more complicated financial situations of higher-income people, such as annual bonuses or mortgage payments. As a result, there were extreme cases of spouses being asked to pay more in child support, alimony and other expenses than their monthly incomes.

Read more here.

June 30, 2015 in Maintenance (alimony) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Kansas Ban on 2nd-Trimester Abortion Procedure Delayed by Judge

From The New York Times:

A Kansas state judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a new law that would have banned the most common method of abortion in the second trimester.

The law, adopted in April and the first of its kind in the nation, would have barred a method known as dilation and evacuation, which doctors say is usually the safest and most convenient abortion technique after about the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy.

Abortion opponents labeled the procedure “dismemberment abortion,” defining it in the Kansas law as “knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus.”

In a bench ruling on Thursday, Judge Larry D. Hendricks of Shawnee County District Court in Topeka, said he would block the law while a lawsuit challenging it proceeds.

Read more here.

June 29, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Uncomplicating Same-Sex Marriage Law

From Margaret Ryznar, writing for the Huffington Post:

With its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court uncomplicated same-sex marriage law. The Court's clear-cut rule that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry replaces the previous piecemeal approach generated by over a decade of new federal court decisions and state laws. Some states had banned same-sex marriage, some states permitted it legislatively, and some states permitted it by state court decision. Some federal courts upheld the state bans, others struck them down. The U.S. Supreme Court has now definitely settled the debate by allowing same-sex marriage across the county.

The U.S. Supreme Court found constitutional protection for same-sex marriage in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Court had previously interpreted this Amendment to encompass various constitutional rights not explicitly enumerated, including, for example, parental rights, the right to marital privacy involving the use of contraceptives, and the right to marry. In Obergefell, the Court confirmed that the right to marry applied to same-sex couples for the same reasons it applied to opposite-sex couples, such as the benefits of supporting marriage in society.

Read more here.

June 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Changes Couples' Finances

From Time:

The much-anticipated Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has been decided, with the majority of judges declaring it a constitutionally protected right.

While 37 states previously recognized same-sex marriages, today’s ruling means that no state can ban same-sex marriage, or refuse to recognize a marriage performed legally in another state.

It also heralds big changes in the way same-sex couples manage their finances. Since the court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, couples who were legally married in a state that recognized their union have been able to file joint federal tax returns and receive other federal benefits. Today’s decision extends that ruling to the rest of the country and affects a host of other financial issues, including Social Security, estate taxes, and retirement planning. 

Read more here.

June 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Supreme Court Rules that Constitution Guarantees Right to Same-Sex Marriage

From The New York Times:

In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Courtruled by a 5-to-4 vote on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the historic decision, said gay and lesbian couples had a fundamental right to marry.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” he wrote. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

The decision, which was the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, set off celebrations across the country and the first same-sex marriages in several states. It came against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of the unions.

Read more here.

June 27, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Georgia Law Permits DNA Testing for Child Support

From Florida Times-Union:

Under a new law, the Department of Human Services will now be able to conduct DNA tests for all child support cases in which paternity is unresolved.

DHS met on Wednesday in Atlanta to discuss changing its internal rules to fit HB568 that will go into effect July 1.

Under the new law, any man that is proven not to be the biological father will not have to pay child support. The bill was intended to end wrongful paternity claims prior to legal action.

Read more here.

June 26, 2015 in Child Support (establishing), Paternity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

New Visitation Law for Grandparents

From Sun Sentinel:

A new Florida law is being trumpeted as the first advancement in grandparent visitation rights in decades.

Despite this measure, which goes into effect July 1, grandparents still have almost no legal standing in Florida when it comes to visiting their grandchildren — even if those youngsters lived with them for years while their parents struggled with addiction, divorce or other problems.

The statute change, however, is limited to a very select group: families where the grandchild's parents are both dead, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state. It also applies if one parent meets any of the previous requirements and the other parent has been convicted of a felony.

Otherwise, grandparents remain blocked from having their visitation legal petitions considered in court, as Florida rulings have consistently upheld that parents have the right to control who has access to their children.

Read more here.

June 25, 2015 in Visitation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Empirics on Working Moms

From Wall Street Journal:

Of all the truisms about work and life out there, the most widely accepted may be this: Any woman who tries to combine a high-powered career and a family is going to be one frazzled, sleep-deprived mess. Like the character in Allison Pearson’s novel “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” she will be driven to desperate measures, like trying to trick friends into thinking that her store-bought pies are homemade.

So you can imagine how intrigued I was when Vanessa Chan of Philadelphia showed me her cakes. I’d met Ms. Chan for coffee in November 2014 to discuss her work as a hard-charging management consultant and the time log that she had kept for me earlier that year. In 2013 and 2014, I asked over 100 women who earned at least six figures and had children to keep track of their time for a week. I wanted to see what the lives of women with big jobs and serious family duties really looked like.

Read more here.

June 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Millennials' Views on Sex

From US News:

Millennials aren't pairing off with as many sex partners as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, but they're more accepting of premarital sex and same-sex relationships.

That's the conclusion of a new review that charted Americans' evolving views on sex, relationships and behavior.

"We found a really profound shift in sexual attitudes and behavior," said study lead author Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University. "In the 1970s, it was much more common to say that sex before marriage was wrong or sometimes wrong. And it was by far the majority view to say sex between two adults of the same sex was wrong.

"That has changed a huge amount," she added.

Read more here.

June 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Alimony in Florida

From Benzinga:

After five years of wrestling with the issue, Florida lawmakers have proposed a bill, which has gained the support of the Florida Bar, offering judges guidelines for how much alimony to award. However, due to a budget impasse, the Florida Legislature's annual session expired on May 1, leaving the alimony reform in limbo and finished for 2015.

The guidelines are based on the length of a marriage and the difference in income between the two parties involved. If passed next year, the bill, which could eliminate permanent alimony, will also allow judges to make exceptions in cases, wherein a lengthy marriage was dissolved and one party has been unemployed for years, making it difficult to resurrect their career.

Read more here.

June 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Military Child Custody Law

From Lansing State Journal:

Bills that would protect child custody rights for military parents, including two pushed by two Greater Lansing lawmakers, have been signed into law.

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed House Bill 4071, sponsored by state Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, Senate Bill 9, sponsored by state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and HB 4482, sponsored by state Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township. Collectively, the bills forbid judges from changing parental custody rights if one of the parents requests a stay under the federal Service members Civil Relief Act, which protects active-duty military personnel who can’t make a court hearing because of their military service. The ban would not apply if child welfare is at stake.

The bills were inspired by an Adrian judge who last year held a U.S. Navy petty officer in contempt of court for missing a child custody hearing while he was serving aboard a submarine in the Pacific Ocean.

Read more here.

June 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Murphy & Singer: "Divorced from Reality: Rethinking Family Dispute Resolution"

Jane Murphy (University of Baltimore School of Law ) and Jana Singer (University of Maryland Carey School of Law) have recently published Divorced from Reality: Rethinking Family Dispute Resolution (NYU Press 2015). The book is described by the authors:

Over the past thirty years, there has been a dramatic shift in the way the legal system approaches and resolves family disputes. This shift has replaced the law-oriented and judge-focused adversary model with a more collaborative and interdisciplinary regime that attempts to resolve both legal and non-legal issues. At the same time, American families have changed dramatically. Divorce rates have slowed, while the number of children born and raised outside of marriage has increased sharply. Grandparents, same sex partners and others considered third parties under the law are raising children.  As a result, the families who seek legal dispute resolution have become more diverse and their legal situations more complex.  Divorced from Reality argues that the current “problem solving” model fails to address the realities of today’s families. The authors suggest that while today’s dispute resolution regime may represent an improvement over its more adversary predecessor, it is built largely around the model of a divorcing nuclear family with lawyers representing all parties—a model that fits poorly with the realities of today’s disputing families. To serve the families it is meant to help, the legal system must rethink its reliance on courts and must adapt and reshape itself.

Order the book here.

 

June 21, 2015 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

New York Legislation on Pregnant Women & Health Care

From Wall Street Journal:

New York is poised to become the first state to allow women who become pregnant to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act – even after the open-enrollment period has passed.

Legislation establishing a pregnancy as a so-called qualifying event that enables women to enroll in ACA health coverage at any time passed the New York legislature on Wednesday, and was sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

Dani Lever,  a spokeswoman for the governor, said the bill is under review.

“Legislatures will be under tremendous pressure to follow New York,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “We can’t wait for the federal government to act. The fact New York did this his will go a long way of changing the law in many states.”

He said New York will reach out to other state legislatures in states that run their own exchange to inform them of the need to take similar steps.

Read more here.

June 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kerry v. Din U.S. Supreme Court Decision

From US News:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday against strengthening marriage rights for binational couples who wish to live together in the United States.

Justices found in Kerry v. Din that naturalized U.S. citizen Fauzia Din cannot force greater explanation about or overturn in court the rejection of her Afghan husband Kanishka Berashk’s visa application.

The couple married in 2006. A year later, Din became an American citizen and Berashk requested a U.S. visa to join her. But his prior work in the Taliban-controlled government of Afghanistan apparently derailed the plan.

U.S. consular officials in Pakistan rejected his visa request, citing a broad terrorism-related statute.

The court split three ways, with a three-vote plurality led by Justice Antonin Scalia finding no “liberty interest” entitling Din to due process and the right to challenge the rejection on her husband’s behalf.

"Because Fauzia Din was not deprived of 'life, liberty, or property' when the Government denied Kanishka Berashk admission to the United States, there is no process due to her under the Constitution," Scalia wrote. "To the extent that she received any explanation for the Government’s decision, this was more than the Due Process Clause required."

A more restrained concurrence from Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito found the curt visa rejection satisfied any due process requirement and that it was unnecessary to answer the constitutional question.

Justice Stephen Breyer, representing the four more liberal judges and agreeing with an earlier appeals court ruling, likened the case to other marriage-related issues handled by the court, and wrote Din was entitled to at least a more specific explanation for why the visa was denied.

Read more here.

June 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Family Separation and the Children's Voice in the UK

From Family Law: 

Family lawyers and mediators across the country are joining forces with UK charity Kids in the Middle (KITM) to offer valuable support to children experiencing a family break-up.

Featuring a new and expanded website and an extensive national publicity drive, the initiative, in partnership with UK family lawyers and mediators, is designed to create a much expanded and more effective response to the needs and concerns of children caught up in family breakdown.

Duncan Fisher, who is directing the Kids in the Middle campaign, says:

'Support for children and young people in separating families is persistently overlooked in favour of support for parents. The gap between the rhetoric about the importance of children and young people and the reality of their marginalisation is unacceptably wide and our charity has teamed up with a group of leading family lawyers and mediators to redress the balance.'

There are 100,000 children involved in divorce every year in the UK and the majority of children experiencing family separation say they don’t get listened to.

Read more here.

June 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 19, 2015

New Study on Working Moms

From CNN:

Daughters of working mothers grow up to be more successful in the workplace than their peers. They earn more and are more likely to be bosses, according to new findings from a Harvard Business School study.

While daughters see the biggest tangible financial gains, sons of working moms are more likely to grow up contributing to the childcare and household chores.

All over the world, children of working mothers are less likely to stick to traditional roles of male breadwinners and female homemakers.

According to new research by Harvard professor Kathleen McGinn, children under 14 who were exposed to mothers who worked -- either part-time or full-time -- for at least a year grow up to hold more egalitarian gender views as adults.

Read more here.

June 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Child Support? There's an App for That

From Forbes:

Anecdotally, Atwood knew that untold numbers of other unmarried parents faced the same stress. Research told her that 55 million parents live apart, and while 16 million go through the state to facilitate child support payments, that system does not usually handle miscellaneous expenses that are typically shared, like extracurricular actives, occasional babysitting and medical care. “Even in cases where the state grants a parent back pay for these expenses dating back years, often there are no receipts to prove it,” she says.

So Atwood created an app to solve that problem. SupportPay serves as a neutral, third-party facilitator through which parents can request, pay, track and document all child support and shared expenses. The service has a free version, and for $9.99 monthly (starting in July), premium members can track and export their payment histories.

Read more here.

June 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Child Support Laws and How They Actually Work

From Deseret News:

The public views court-ordered formulas calculating child support in the United States and England to be unfair, according to a study released Monday that researchers hope will be valuable information for policymakers dealing with family law issues.

Although child support laws in the two nations differ, the study, published by the Child and Family Blog, found that respondents from the U.S. and England have similar personal views on what is fair in calculating child support paid by noncustodial parents.

The research ultimately found that the public believes child support should be adjusted higher or lower based on the mother's income (assuming she is the custodial parent caring for the children). In some states, child support is based solely on the noncustodial parent's income, while in others both incomes are used in the calculation with an emphasis on the noncustodial parent's income. Each state has a set formula for judges to use in child support cases.

Read more here.

June 17, 2015 in Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)