Family Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Case Law Development: Tenth Circuit Holds that Oklahoma Must Recognize Same Sex Adoptions of Other States

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has upheld a district court judgment that a state law barring recognition of adoptions by same-sex couples already finalized in another state is unconstitutional. The case involved three same-sex couples who had adopted children in other states.  These three families brought suit against the state of Oklahoma seeking to enjoin enforcement of the adoption amendment, naming the governor, attorney general and commissioner of health in their official capacities.  The court held that "final adoption orders by a state court of competent jurisdiction are judgments that must be given full faith and credit under the Constitution by every other state in the nation. Because the Oklahoma statute at issue categorically rejects a class of out-of-state adoption decrees, it violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause."

Finstuen v. Crutcher (US App 10th Cir. August 3, 2007)
Opinion online  (last visited August 10, 2007 bgf)

August 9, 2007 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Case Law Development: South Dakota Supreme Court Holds that Child Should Keep Stepfather's Last Name

The Supreme Court of South Dakota in a 3-2 ruling has held that a girl conceived when her mother had an affair must keep the last name of her mother's husband, overruling the trial court order that had changed the child's name to that of her biological father.  The child's mother reconciled with her husband before the child was born and her husband's name was on the child's birth certificate.  The majority found that the daughter, now 3, should have the same last name as everyone else in the home in which she lives.

The Supreme Court majority said it is in the child's best interest to keep the same last name as that of her mother, stepfather and half-sister.  "It makes no sense to change her name after two years to her natural father's name," Justice Richard Sabers wrote for the court majority.  "From the standpoint of her best interest, her name should remain the same as her family unit because she socializes with them, will go to school with them and live with them the majority of the time. Why should she be unnecessarily required to explain why her surname is different from her family unit in all these circumstances?" The majority opinion said the circuit judge placed too much importance on the possibility that the girl's mother and stepfather might get divorced. Tiede also disregarded testimony that indicated the relationship was improving among the mother, biological father and stepfather, the justices said.

The two dissenting justices would have given deference to the trial judge.  The trial judge had concluded that not allowing the name change might lead to estrangement with the biological father, who had visitation rights with the child for the past two years.  "With the high divorce rate and increased numbers of blended families, it is not unusual for a child to have a different surname than the child's mother or half-siblings," Justice Judith Meierhenry wrote.  Justice Steve Zinter also dissented, saying he believes the court majority mistakenly focused on only one factor whereas most name change cases focus on a variety of factors.

In the Matter of the Change of Name of L.M.G., (South Dakota August 8, 2007)
Opinion online (last visited August 10, 2007 bgf)

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August 9, 2007 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Iran Promotes Temporary Marriages

Iran's Interior Minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, has started promoting temporary marriage as a solution to the country's social problems. Shia Islam allows a man and woman to marry for a fixed period of time, ranging from an hour to a century. A man can also have any number of temporary marriages - or sigheh, as they are known.

Read the BBC article (last visited August 10, 2007 bgf)

August 9, 2007 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Zealand Bans Corporal Punishment by Parents

A controversial law effectively banning parents from smacking their children has been passed by New Zealand's parliament. The legislation closes a legal loophole that allowed parents to use "reasonable force" to discipline their child.   However, the new bill allows the police to use discretion over whether a parent should be prosecuted or not.

Read the BBC article (last visited August 10, 2007 bgf)

August 9, 2007 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)