Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, May 29, 2006

Two Million Children with HIV

"More than 2 million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV, almost all in sub-Saharan Africa where there is no access to treatment and death almost certain, seven leading child advocacy organizations said. "We are failing children," said Dean Hirsch, chairman of the Global Movement for Children, which issued an urgent appeal to governments, donors and the pharmaceutical industry to recognize a child's right to treatment as fundamental. The movement, made up of seven organizations, released a report Friday that painted a grim picture of the impact of the disease on children: 700,000 children were infected with the HIV virus in 2005, bringing the total to 2.3 million, and 570,000 died of  AIDS — one every minute.

Less than 5 percent of HIV-positive children have access to the pediatric AIDS treatment they desperately need, the report said. "The deaths of these children are not inevitable," said Hirsch, president of World Vision International, a Christian relief organization. "An HIV positive child can respond to anti-retroviral treatment. So let's deliver on the promise — the promise of treatment for all by 2010."" By Edith M. Lederer, AP, Yahoo News, Link to Article (last visited 5-28-06 NVS)

May 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Angelina Jolie Gives Birth

"The most anticipated newborn of the season made her debut last night when globetrotting superstar Angelina Jolie gave birth to a sure-to-be-gorgeous baby girl. Jolie's third tyke - and first child with actor Brad Pitt - was named Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. She was born in the southwest African nation of Namibia."The night of May 27, 2006, in Namibia, Africa, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt welcomed their daughter Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. No further information is being given," publicist Cindy Guagenti said in a statement." By Michelle Caruso and Oren Yaniv, Daily News Link to Article

May 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kids Mourn Parents Killed in Iraq

"Jacob Hobbs, 10, did not mince words about the death of his father. "He was in a Humvee, driving at night on patrol, and a homemade bomb blew up on him so bad it killed his brain," Jacob said of his father, Staff Sgt. Brian Hobbs, 31, of the Army. "But he wasn't scratched up that much. And that's how he died." Sitting across from Jacob in a circle at a grief camp over Memorial Day weekend, Taylor Downing, a 10-year-old with wavy red hair and a mouthful of braces, offered up her own detailed description. "My dad died four days after my birthday, on Oct. 28, 2004," Taylor said quietly of Specialist Stephen Paul Downing II. "He got shot by a sniper. It came in through here," she added, pointing to the front of her head, "and went out there," shifting her finger to the back of her head." By Lizette Alvarez, New York Times Link to Article (last visited 5-29-06 NVS)

May 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Illinois Legislation Designed to Protected Children and Disabled Persons from Abuse

The Sargent Shriver National Center for Poverty Law reports that Illinois has passed several laws designed to protect children and persons with disabilities.  Two of the bills limit parenting rights and opportunities for adoption or for custody and visitation for persons who have been convicted of crimes against children; a third adds a separate crime of sexual misconduct toward persons with disabilities.  A fourth bill, which the General Assembly also passed, provides for debt relief for the portion of child support arrearages that low-income parents owe the state, not the family.

Read the Illinois Legislation  (last visited May 27, 2006 bgf)

May 28, 2006 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Case Law Development: Change in Custody - Impact of Child's Preference, Mental Health Professional Recommendations & Parental Animosity

The Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a change in primary custody of a teenaged girl in a case that would make an excellent vehicle for class discussions regarding the relevant weight to be given to various custody factors.

On Dad's side:

  • 16-year-old daughter strongly expresses desire to live with dad
  • Mom's husband kicked daughter out of the house, continually criticizes Father to daughter and, in general,  Mom and Stepdad "have made it very difficult for [Daughter] to maintain a guilt-free relationship with her father.
  • Mom has been cited for contempt in the past for interfering with Father's visitation
  • Dad doesn't work due to disability (the legitimacy of which has been twice litigated by Mom and decided in his favor in both actions) and will be available to daughter
  • Dad seems the more "friendly parent"
  • Appellate court should give deference to trial court's judgment which concluded that while Father "was no Ward Cleaver" he was "unwilling to evaporate from his children's life and that [Mother and Stepfather] are without legal justification to deny [Father] his rights as the children's parent. "

On Mom's side:

  • Daughter's family counselor and her guardian ad litem both recommend that custody remain with Mom, with continued counseling and no contact between step-father and father
  • Mom has been primary care provider for over thirteen years and, with step-dad, has provided nearly all financial support for Daughter
  • Dad admits to using Marijuanna and has a more permissive parenting style than the authoritative style of Mom and step dad
  • Mom and step-dad have other younger children and transfer of custody will separate daughter from these step-siblings
  • The dissent concludes "In a difficult and emotionally charged custody case such as this, we are better informed by the critical judgment of the professionals than we are by the preferences of a troubled adolescent or the highly partisan and self-serving testimony of the parents."

In re Rohlfsen, 2006 Iowa App. LEXIS 472 (May 24, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited May26, 2006 bgf)

May 28, 2006 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Case Law Development: Sixth Circuit Applies Restatement in Resolving Conflict Between Wives Over Pension Benefits

When Douglas Durden died in Michigan, two women came forward and each claimed she was his “surviving spouse” and entitled to surviving spouse benefits under his employer’s pension program. Douglas had marred Ann in Ohio in 1966 and she insisted that they had never been divorced and Ohio law required Douglas’s employer to pay her the benefits.  The second wife, Rita, said Douglas divorced Ann in 1971 and married her in 1985 in Las Vegas, Nevada. She insisted that Michigan law applied because Douglas worked in Michigan and the survivor’s benefits were to be paid by a Michigan employer.(There was no documentary proof that he had ever divorced Ann, his first wife.)  Rita was paid $58,500 on a life insurance policy in which she was listed as the beneficiary.  However, DaimlerChrysler refused to pay the survivors benefits absent a decision by a court making it clear which of the two women should receive them.

In ruling in Ann’s favor, the court applied and interpreted section 187(2)(b) of the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws. This provision, said the court, provides that the “[t]he validity of a marriage will be determined by the local law of the state which, with respect to the particular issue, has the most significant relationship to the spouses and the marriage.” In the court’s view, Ohio had the most significant relationship because Ann and Douglas’s marriage was solemnized there and both lived there as husband and wife. Furthermore, Rita and Douglas lived in Oho from 1985 to 2003 after their Nevada marriage.  The court said that although Douglas worked in Michigan, that state does not have a significant relationship to either of the wives or their marriages.

The court also said that Ohio law evidences a policy of protecting individuals like Ann from bearing the burden of proof. Application of Michigan law, which would place the burden on Ann to demonstrate she was not divorced from Douglas, would be contrary to this policy.  Ohio’s presumption in favor of the continuation of the first marriage demonstrates a fundamental policy pf that state and application of Michigan law pursuant to the choice of law provision would be contrary to that fundamental policy. Finally, the court said that Ohio has a material greater interest than Michigan in determining whether Ann or Rita is Douglas's surviving spouse.  The reason for this is that none of the Michigan entities involved in the litigation  has an interest in which claimant prevails. Ohio has a fundamental policy of protecting married persons from the consequences of their spouse entering into a subsequent marriage where it is not clear whether the prior marriage was dissolved. Enforcing the choice of law provision and applying Michigan law would be contrary to this fundamental policy. The court concluded that Ohio a materially greater interest than Michigan in the determination of which woman is entitled to receive the survivor’s benefits. “Consequently, this is one of the rare cases which fits within the exception described in section 187(2)(b).” The Sixth Circuit opinion can be found by clicking here (last visited May 27, 2006, reo).

May 28, 2006 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)