Family Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Teaching Resources: Domestic Violence & Poverty

For those of you who aren't familiar with the In Her Shoes exercise produced by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, it is a fabulous resource for teaching how multiple systems affect the ability of victims of domestic violence to escape.  The coalition also produces an "Economic Justice" edition that helps students understand why low-income victims are at much higher risk of continued severe abuse. 

The WSCADV Website provides more information about this resource and an order form for the materials.

(last visited November 27, 2007 bgf)

November 27, 2007 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Report on Opening Records for Adult Adoptees

"FOR THE RECORDS: RESTORING A RIGHT TO ADULT ADOPTEES
Author: Madelyn Freundlich
Published: 2007 November. New York NY: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute"

"Among the findings in the report, "For the Records: Restoring a Right to Adult Adoptees," are:

  • Prohibiting adopted people from getting their personal information raises significant civil rights concerns and potentially serious, negative consequences for their physical and mental health.
  • In states that now allow access, there has been no evidence that the legal changes have caused problematic behavior by adopted persons or damage to birthmother's lives.
  • Another assertion by critics of changing these laws - that abortion rates will rise and adoption rates will fall - is not supported by the evidence; in fact, it appears just the opposite occurs.

Based on its research and an analysis of its findings, the Institute's recommendations include:

  • Every state should amend its laws to restore unrestricted access for adult adopted persons to their original birth certificates - which, historically, had been their right nationwide.
  • Within three years of enactment, revisit state laws that create a "sandwich" situation in which some adult adopted persons get access to their documents while others do not.
  • Conduct research to expand the understanding of the experiences of adopted persons, birthparents and adoptive parents in relation to the issue of access to records."

By Donaldson Adoption Institute  Link to Website (last visited 11-24-07 NVS)

November 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Standards of Practice in Civil Protection Order Cases

The American Bar Association has recently published its new Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking in Civil Protection Order Cases. The standards recommend that lawyers become knowledgeable about the dynamics of domestic violence and its intersection with sexual assault and stalking before undertaking representation of a victim in a protection order case. Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid participated in the development of the standards.

The standards are available online at the ABA  (last visited November 9, 2007 bgf)

November 9, 2007 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Case Law Development: Constitutional Challenge to Paternity Laws Dismissed For Failure to State Claim

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a trial court's dismissal of a constitutional challenge to paternity and child support laws. The suit was brought by Father who claimed that he should not be responsible for child support when Mother had represented that she didn't want to have a child and assured him repeatedly she couldn't get pregnant.  Father argued that Michigan's paternity laws violated the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because a man does not have a similar choice as does a pregnant woman regarding abortion, adoption or raising a child.

The court found that Michigan Paternity Act does not affect any of Father’s fundamental rights because "it is not a fundamental right of any parent, male or female, to sever his or her financial responsibilities to the child after the child is born."  The court further noted that it did not need to apply intermediate scrutiny because the Michigan Paternity Act and other statutes that impose the obligation of support are gender neutral.  Finally, the court found that the Michigan Paternity Act withstood rational basis review because "the means that the statute uses to achieve this end–requiring support from the legal parents, and determining legal fatherhood based on the biological fatherhood–is substantially, let alone rationally, related to this legitimate, and probably important, government purpose."

The court declined to award fees for a frivolous appeal however.  "While we find [Father’s} challenge to the Michigan Paternity Act to lack support in our equal protection jurisprudence, we do not consider his appeal of the district court’s decision to be frivolous or worthy of imposing sanctions. Admittedly, our precedent ... suggests that [Father's] claim should be viewed as “wholly without merit.”... However, the court noted that the claim in this case was brought under a legal theory that had not yet been rejected by the court.

Dubay v. Wells, 6th Cir Ct. App. (November 6, 2007)
Opinion on the web (last visited November 6, 2007 bgf)

November 6, 2007 in Paternity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Forced Marriages in Germany

"Chancellor Angela Merkel has joined a growing movement to criminalize forced marriages in Germany, which is growing less tolerant of practices among Muslim immigrants that clash with the nation's liberal social values.

Forced marriages are generally imposed by young women's families to keep them from dating. Prosecution is rare and must take place under assault laws that also outlaw threats and coercion.

Women's' groups have been increasingly pushing for forced marriages to be specifically criminalized, to ease prosecution and to send a strong signal that the practice violates German laws and traditions.

''I completely agree that forced marriages should be punishable as a criminal act,'' Merkel said in a speech at a women's conference held by her conservative Christian Democrats over the weekend, surprising and pleasing activists.

''We are thrilled that the chancellor has made such a clear statement,'' said Sibylle Schreiber, a spokeswoman for the women's rights group Terre des Femmes. ''Finally she's given a signal to the people that forcing your daughter into marriage is a crime.''" By AP, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 11-4-07 NVS)

November 4, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Students Rate Prospective Employers

"A bunch of law students at Stanford have started assigning letter grades to their prospective employers, which pretty much tells you who holds the power in the market for new associates. It’s not easy to persuade new lawyers from the top schools to accept starting salaries of only $160,000. The students are handing out “diversity report cards” to the big law firms, ranking them by how many female, minority and gay lawyers they have.

“Many of the firms have atrocious, appalling records on diversity,” said Michele Landis Dauber, a law professor at Stanford and the adviser for the project, called Building a Better Legal Profession." By Adam Liptak, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 11-4-07 NVS)

November 4, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AFCC eNEWS Now Available

"The October 2007 AFCC eNEWS is now available online.  The AFCC eNEWS is a bi-monthly e-newsletter published by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). AFCC eNEWS provides professionals with time sensitive and up-to-date topics including case law updates, research innovations and international news.  The October 2007 issue features an update on the AFCC and National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) Domestic Violence and Family Courts Project; free online audio samples of the AFCC and NCJFCJ Regional Training Conference, Applications for High Conflict Families, Domestic Violence and Alienation, September 27-29, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio; research updates; international news; and more." By AFCC  Please click the link below to view the October 2007 AFCC eNEWS. Link to AFCC eNEWS

November 4, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)