Family Law Prof Blog

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

Sunday, December 25, 2005

So who does own the holiday gifts?

As wrapping paper flies these days, few are considering whether the gifts they give and receive are really gifts.  Yet divorce has a way of re-wrapping some of those gifts. 

In states that characterize any property acquired during the marriage as marital property, with the exception of that property acquired by gift, what becomes of a interspousal gift? In Virginia, statutes provide that interspousal gifts are presumed to be marital property. Thus, even gifts between spouses are marital property unless the presumption is rebutted. So, for example, the Virginia Court of Appeals required wife to prove that when husband made gifts of jewelry to her, he "relinquished all present and future dominion over the property." The court reviewed cases on the subject and concluded: "The principles that emerge from the cases addressing the classification of property which has been the subject of interspousal gift do not depend upon the classification of the source of the property but rather upon whether one party by clear and express language intended to give the asset as the other spouse's separate property or merely intended to make a gift during the marriage, which becomes marital property. Where the facts clearly and unambiguously support the conclusion that one of the parties has relinquished all right and interest in marital property and has transferred those rights unconditionally to the other, to the exclusion of the donor's continuing claim upon the property as a marital asset pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.3, a separate property right will be found to exist." Since wife was not able to provide "clear and unambiguous evidence that the husband expressed an intent to transfer the jewelry into wife's name as her sole property" the jewelry was marital property. McCreery v. McCreery, 2005 Va. Cir. LEXIS 131 (July 6, 2005) Perhaps there is a market for attorneys to draft gift cards? bgf

December 25, 2005 in Property Division | Permalink

Washington Appeals Court Says Foster Children Who Habitually Violate Court Orders Can Be Jailed for Months

Youngsters who habitually violate court orders by running away from foster homes can be jailed for months for contempt of court. However, contempt may not to be used as a standard practice, a Washington state appeals panel ruled Tuesday. The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel upheld the use of “inherent contempt” by Yakima County Juvenile Court. Although  Washington State law permits the court to jail foster children for up to seven days, in this case the court used its “inherent power” to send three children to jail for 30 to 60 days. Source: AP, The Olypian,  For more information, please click here (last visited December 25, 2005, reo).

The court opinion in In re the Dependency of A.K., 23018-0-III (Washington Court of Appeals 12/20/2005) can be found on the web at (last visited December 26, 2005 bgf)

December 25, 2005 in Termination of Parental Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kansas Court Erred When Dismissing Domestic Abuse Charge After Victim Recanted Original Statement

The trial court erred when it dismissed a charge in a domestic violence case after the victim recanted her original statement to police, a Kansas Court of Appeals ruled Friday. The court said that it was of statewide interest to ensure that a crime may be prosecuted even when a victim recants his or her original statement, especially where other evidence supports the charge.  In this case, the victim was found by police to suffer from a badly swollen face, her eyes were swollen shut, she was barely able to speak and walked slowly. Her shirt was bloodied and she told police her boyfriend had punched her in the face, kicked her, and struck her with a lamp. Police found the boyfriend asleep on a bed. He was arrested and confessed to beating her. However, at trial, the victim recanted what she had previously told police. The Court of Appeals said that rather than dismissing the charge, the trial judge should have let the jury decide the issue. Source: Robert A. Cronkleton, The Kansas City Star, For more information, please click here (last visited December 25, 2005, reo).

The opinion of the court in State v. Coppage, 92648  (Kansas Court of Appeals, December 23, 2005) can be found on the web at (last visited December 26, 2005 bgf)

December 25, 2005 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Swiss Divorce Rates Increase Sharply in 2004

Switzerland has one of the highest divorce rates in Europe with four in ten marriages ending in divorce, says the Federal Statistics Office. Furthermore, there were 6.8 per cent more divorces in 2004 than in the previous year, more than twice the average rate for the 1990s (3.2 per cent). Source: For more information, please click here (last visited December 25, 2005, reo).

December 25, 2005 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Father Says He Killed Children So They Didn’t Have To Suffer Through Divorce

A Twin Falls, Idaho man accused of using poison to kill his three young children told police he "didn't want the kids to suffer through the divorce," according to an affidavit filed by police. Jim Junior Nice was charged Thursday in Twin Falls, Idaho with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his 6-year-old twin sons, Justin and Spencer, and his 2-year-old daughter, Raquel Anna. Source:  KSAT12, For more information, please click here (last visited December 25, 2005, reo).

December 25, 2005 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)