Family Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Prenup for Kids?

"A FRIEND from business school, just engaged, boasted recently not about the virtues of his wife-to-be but about the Byzantine process he and she had gone through in constructing what he considered the finest of prenuptial agreements, as if there were some sort of poetry in the laborious detail involved in dividing assets and wealth. Months earlier, another friend, who had separated from her husband, told me she’d decided to go back with him, but only after the two of them had constructed a “post-nup” that left no doubt as to how their finances would be divided should they break up again.

I suppose both kinds of agreements are understandable in an era when so many marriages fail, but it seems sadly clear to me that both couples, for all their meticulous planning, had overlooked and ignored the most important point of all. Dividing up money and assets after a marriage falls apart can be a mess, but it’s often nothing compared with the agony and emotional torment of a custody battle — dividing up the children. Money is, after all, only money — you can make it back, you can do with less of it if you need to, you can even file for bankruptcy. But children are not commodities that can be replaced.

Thus, a proposal, based on observation and my own recent experience of divorce: Engaged couples should enter into a new kind of arrangement, one that has nothing to do with houses or cars or the Warhol on the wall but focuses on any children born of the marriage. If two people can contemplate, before they ever marry, the possibility of what Walter Winchell called “splitsville” and agree in advance how they would divide assets, they ought to also be able to make sane arrangements for dividing time with their children."

By James Andrew Miller, N.Y.Times OP-ED Contributor Link to Article (last visted 7-18-07 NVS)

July 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Three Legal Parents

"SOMETIMES when the earth shudders it doesn’t make a sound. That’s what happened in Harrisburg, Pa., recently.

On April 30, a state Superior Court panel ruled that a child can have three legal parents. The case, Jacob v. Shultz-Jacob, involved two lesbians who were the legal co-parents of two children conceived with sperm donated by a friend. The panel held that the sperm donor and both women were all liable for child support. Arthur S. Leonard, a professor at New York Law School, observed, “I’m unaware of any other state appellate court that has found that a child has, simultaneously, three adults who are financially obligated to the child’s support and are also entitled to visitation.”

The case follows a similar decision handed down by a provincial court in Ontario in January. In what appeared to be the first such ruling in any Western nation, the court ruled that a boy can legally have three parents. In that case the biological mother and father had parental rights and wished for the biological mother’s lesbian partner, who functions as the boy’s second mother, to have such rights as well."

N.Y Times Opinion Link to Article (last visited 7-18-07 NVS)

July 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

No Child Support Refund

"A man cannot recoup child support payments he made for a son he later found out was not his own, the state Supreme Court has ruled, overturning lower courts' decisions.

In its unanimous ruling, the justices ruled that the man, identified only as Roy in the lawsuit, was not entitled to payments he made since his 1980 divorce because state law required such a challenge to be filed before the child turned 23 years old.

The court ruled that even though the man found out only long after his son turned 23 that he was not the father, it wasn't enough to force the biological father, identified as Patrick, to pay child support.

''This is a sad, heartbreaking case of a man who learned that an essential truth had been withheld from him for thirty years,'' wrote Justice Barry Albin. But the court thought that lawmakers envisioned such a scenario when creating the Parentage Act."

AP, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 7-18-07 NVS)

July 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)