Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, October 24, 2005

Disaster Preparedness

"When Hurricane Andrew destroyed their apartment, belongings, car, and workplaces, Carol's husband "Just went berserk ... he really went crazy. Before, I would get beat up maybe once a month if I was lucky. Afterward, it was like every other day. ... I ran across a lot of women suffering, too, with their children - husbands beating them up and leaving them. It was pretty bad."

Women like Carol were less safe than ever from violence in their own homes after a predictable event nobody thought would ever really happen in a major metropolitan area. What makes women in volatile relationships so vulnerable when disasters transform geographies, institutions, and relationships? How well prepared are grassroots women's services to respond to women and children residing in shelters or transition homes during disasters or to women facing violence after a major disaster?

With funding from the BC Institute on Family Violence and the Feminist Research, Education, Development, and Action Centre, an action research project was designed to answer these questions. Seventy-seven Canadian and US, provincial and state coalitions, shelters, and transition homes responded to a mail and phone survey, including thirty-five in the British Columbia/Yukon Society of Transition Houses. With their help, we now have baseline data on women at risk both of violence and disaster." By Elaine Enarson, Visiting Scholar Disaster Preparedness Resources Centre
University of British Columbia posted on the FREDA Centre for Research on Violence against Women and Children Website Link to Website (last visited 10-23-05 NVS)

October 24, 2005 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Domestic Violence and Disaster

"The current state of chaos and devastation in the City of New Orleans and other impacted regions affords little solace to battered women – many of whom fled their abusive homes for the protection of the shelter only to find themselves displaced from the shelter in the aftermath of the storm.   

The disintegration of services for battered women along the Gulf Coast has and will continue to have, for months to come, a dramatic impact on the safety of battered women and their children.  Before hurricane Katrina battered women’s shelters and programs across the country struggled on a daily basis to meet battered women’s basic imminent safety, emotional and physical needs.  Shortages in funding, staffing, resources, and time place undue constraints on programs’ abilities to advocate for battered women’s safety.  A disaster such as Katrina accentuates these constraints.

To ease the excessive burden faced by programs that were hardest hit, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) is orchestrating a nationwide effort to relocate battered women and their children to shelters in other parts of the country with available space and resources.  NCADV’s website ( provides an opportunity for battered women’s shelters to announce existing beds for battered women affected by hurricane Katrina.  Programs from Alaska to Connecticut to Florida to Arizona are willing to provide a safe space for battered women and many are able to assist with transportation.  Individuals in need of these services can access the programs’ contact information via the NCADV website." By National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Link to Website (last visited 10-23-05 NVS)

October 24, 2005 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Child Refugees

"Each year, some 6,000 to 7,000 children from foreign countries enter the United States without any parents or guardians to look after them, many seeking protection from repressive regimes, exploitation, abusive family situations or other traumatic circumstances. A bipartisan bill now percolating in the Senate would help improve the way these vulnerable children are treated while in federal custody. The bill, called the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act, would not alter current immigration standards or expand rights to asylum. . . .the legislation would set minimum standards for custody, expand foster care programs and allow for the hiring of child welfare professionals to serve as temporary guardians. Perhaps most important, the measure would begin to create a nationwide system of pro bono legal representation for such unaccompanied children, most of whom speak little or no English." Editorial by The New York Times Link to Editorial (last visited 10-23-05 NVS)

The text of the legislation can be viewed at GovTrack.US (last visited 10-23-05 NVS)

October 24, 2005 in International | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Census Bureau Analysis of Family Structure Shows Marked Geographic Patterns

The Census Bureau, in a report containing an analysis of family structure issued last week, found that variables at the state level show that there are marked geographic patterns. States with populations that had a high estimated median age at first marriage tend to have had higher proportions of unmarried-couple households and lower proportions of married-couple households. Geographic differences in the proportion of women with infants living below the poverty level correlated with low levels of labor force participation, high proportions of births among teenagers, and high proportions of births among unmarried mothers. The report also estimated the median age at first marriage in the United States for 2000-2003 was 27 and 25 years old for men and women respectively. For 2000-2003, 29 percent of women with a birth in the last year were unmarried in the United States. Most states in the South had a higher percentage of mothers with a birth in the last year who were unmarried impared with the national average. Among mothers with a birth in the last year in the United States, 23 percent were below the poverty level for 2000-2003; 12 percent of all married mothers with a birth in the last year were below the poverty level; and half of all unmarried mothers with a birth in the last year were below the poverty level. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, Fertility & Family Statistics Branch. October 13 revision. For more information and a copy of the full report, please click here (last visited October 23, 2005, reo).

October 23, 2005 in Paternity | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Maine Study Says Abuse Can Follow Women to Work

Domestic violence often has an impact on victims where they work, a state-sponsored survey of more than 120 domestic violence victims in Maine suggests.  And that can lead to increased absenteeism, higher health costs and decreased productivity, says the survey and report released Friday by the Maine Department of Labor and Family Crisis Services. Gov. John Baldacci and state Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman urged employers to enact domestic-violence action plans.  Source. BostonGlobe, For the complete story, click here (last visited October 23, 2005, reo).

October 23, 2005 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Indiana Court Admonishes Judge for Handling Custody Matter

This week the Indiana Supreme Court publicly admonished Marion County Superior Court Commissioner Christopher D. Haile for his handling of a child custody dispute. Haile had issued an ex parte emergency order changing custody from the child’s mother to her former husband. The former husband alleged in a petition filed with the court that she had missed a deadline for returning the child to his custody, the child had a dental appointment the following day, and school orientation the following week. The Indiana court said neither situation constituted an emergency, and the child’s mother should have been given an opportunity to be heard in court. Source. Associated Press, more information, please click here (last visited October 23, 2005, reo).

October 23, 2005 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Congressional Panel Renews Federal Effort to Outlaw Gay Marriages

Conservative members of Congress are renewing efforts to outlaw gay marriage through an amendment to the United States Constitution. Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, the Republican chairman of a panel studying the proposed amendment, said Congress is racing against “imminent” action by “activist” judges to legalize gay marriage.  Boston College Law School Professor Scott FitzGibbon testified  before the panel that he has “grave concerns” about the “social and moral effects that have begun to emerge” since gay marriage became legal.  He argued an amendment is needed, citing the “indoctrination” of gay marriage in public schools and the “deconstruction” of marriage's definition.  He also argued that teachers are now worried about debating the pros and cons of gay marriage with their students, citing a memo by Superintendent of Boston Public Schools Thomas Payzant that called gay marriage a “historic moment.”  The new marriage law, he said, creates an “icy chilling of discourse.” Georgetown University Law Center Professor Louis Michael Seidman, said the amendment is “sloppily” written and would thus grant federal judges “unchecked power” to interpret it.  Source. Evan Lehmann, Lowell Sun, more information, please click here (last visited October 23, 2005, reo).

October 23, 2005 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | TrackBack (1)