February 9, 2007
Case Law Development: Teeth Pulled From Putative Father Registries
The Florida court again reaffirmed its holding that a failure to file with the putative father registry is not a basis for terminating a biological father's parental rights in an adoption proceeding. A concurring opinion by Judge Canady questions the completeness of the court's analysis in the several cases establishing this precedent, noting that the putatitve father act expressly provides that:
"An unmarried biological father who does not comply with [the act] is deemed to have waived and surrendered any rights in relation to the child, including the right to notice of any judicial proceeding in connection with the adoption of the child, and his consent to the adoption of the child is not required."
J.A. v. Heart of Adoptions, Inc. (February 7, 2007)
opinion on web (last visited February 9, 2007)
Teen Pregnancy and Other Birth Statistics
The February issue of Pediatrics summarizes recent reports on births in the US. Some findings:
- The recent teen pregnancy rate in the United States is at an all-time low.
- The rate of Caesarean deliveries is at an all-time high.
- The birth rates for mothers aged 30 and older rose in 2005 to levels not seen in nearly 40 years.
- A record number of unmarried women are having children. The total number of births to unmarried women rose by 4 percent, to 1,525,345, in 2005.
To read the news article from Health Day news
To read the full report, visit the National Center for Health Statistics.
(last visited February 9,2007 bgf)
February 8, 2007
Gag Orders in Family Court Cases
Our readers may be interested in the Op Ed piece by Professor Eugene Volokh in the LA TImes. Professor Volokh questions whether divorce courts violate the first amendment when they mandate or forbid certain kinds of speech by parents or order that condition custody or visitation on a person's speech.
Read the piece in the LA Times
(last visited February 7, 2007 bgf)
ABA Family Law Essay Contest
For your students who are writing papers on family law topics, now would be a good time to remind them of the Howard C. Schwab Family Law Essay Context. This annual contest, conducted by the ABA Section of Family Law, is open to law students and provides a possibility of publication of their essays in the Family Law Quarterly as well as a year's free membership.
Here are the rules.
(last visited February 7, 2007 bgf)
Case Law Development: Marriage Amendment Precludes Extension of Public Employee Benefits to Same Sex Partners
The Michigan Court of Appeals this past week held that the state's marriage amendment did not permit public employers, such as public universities and governmental entities, to extend benefits such as healthcare insurance to same-sex domestic partners.
The court qualified its decision by pointing out that it was not ruling on "the lifestyle or personal living decisions of individual citizens" nor could it consider "the effect of the amendment on employee recruitment, retention and morale, and marketplace competitiveness." Rather, the court noted that it was simply engaged in interpreting the language of the amendment, which, it observed was a matter of first impression given the amendments "relatively unique phraseology" relating to "similar unions."
In reversing the trial court, the Court of Appeals concluded that:
By officially recognizing a same-sex union through the vehicle of a domestic partnership
agreement, public employers give same-sex domestic couples similar status to that of married couples. Contrary to plaintiffs’ argument, a publicly recognized domestic partnership need not mirror a marriage in every respect in order to run afoul of article 1, section 25, as the amendment plainly precludes recognition of a “similar union for any purpose.”
National Pride at Work, Inc v Governor, (February 1, 2007)
(Last visited February 7, 2007 bgf)
Thanks to Jeanne Hannah for flagging the case. See her discussion of the case at the Updates on Michigan Family Law Blog.
Domestic Violence among Wealthy Attorney Couple Highlighted on Primetime
If you teach domestic violence, you may be interested in viewing the video and transcripts of ABC News Primetime story of a domestic case in California. The attorney husband in the case was convicted of torture after his wife had gone to authorities to confess that she was plotting to kill him and that she had molested their four children. The detectives found the story incredible and investigated further, leading to the arrest of the husband for domestic violence.
Go to the ABC News Website to view the program transcript and video excerpt
(last visited February 7, 2006 bgf)
February 7, 2007
Little-noticed VAWA Amendment
"The Justice Department is completing rules to allow the collection of DNA from most people arrested or detained by federal authorities, a vast expansion of DNA gathering that will include hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, by far the largest group affected.
The new forensic DNA sampling was authorized by Congress in a little-noticed amendment to a January 2006 renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, which provides protections and assistance for victims of sexual crimes. The amendment permits DNA collecting from anyone under criminal arrest by federal authorities, and also from illegal immigrants detained by federal agents.
Over the last year, the Justice Department has been conducting an internal review and consulting with other agencies to prepare regulations to carry out the law." By Julia Preston, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 2-7-07 NVS)
Ban Smoking if Child Present?
"Connecticut legislators have introduced a bill that would ban smoking in cars when a minor is present. This legislation, the brainchild of 9-year-old Justin Kvadas from East Hartford, is ostensibly being written to protect young children from exposure to the alleged dangers of secondhand smoke." By Gary Nolan, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 2-7-07 NVS)
Should Doctors Help Parents Choose Sex of Baby?
"If people want to choose their baby’s sex before pregnancy, should doctors help? Some parents would love the chance to decide, while others wouldn’t dream of meddling with nature. The medical world is also divided. Professional groups say sex selection is allowable in certain situations, but differ as to which ones. Meanwhile, it’s not illegal, and some doctors are already cashing in on the demand. There are several ways to pick a baby’s sex before a woman becomes pregnant, or at least to shift the odds." By Denise Grady, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 2-7-07 NVS)
Initiative to Require Couples to Have Children
"Proponents of same-sex marriage have introduced a ballot measure that would require heterosexual couples to have a child within three years or have their marriages annulled.
The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance acknowledged on its Web site that the initiative was ''absurd'' but hoped the idea prompts ''discussion about the many misguided assumptions'' underlying a state Supreme Court ruling that upheld a ban on same-sex marriage. The measure would require couples to prove they can have children to get a marriage license. Couples who do not have children within three years could have their marriages annulled. All other marriages would be defined as ''unrecognized,'' making those couples ineligible for marriage benefits.
The paperwork for the measure was submitted last month. Supporters must gather at least 224,800 signatures by July 6 to put it on the November ballot." A.P., N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 2-7-07 NVS)
February 5, 2007
Study on Workplace Protections
"''More countries are providing the workplace protections that millions of Americans can only dream of,'' said the study's lead author, Jody Heymann, founder of the Harvard-based Project on Global Working Families and director of McGill's Institute for Health and Social Policy.
Among the study's findings:
--Fathers are granted paid paternity leave or paid parental leave in 65 countries, including 31 offering at least 14 weeks of paid leave. The U.S. guarantees fathers no such paid leaves.
--At least 107 countries protect working women's right to breast-feed; the breaks are paid in at least 73 of them. The U.S. does not have federal legislation guaranteeing the right to breast-feed at work.
--At least 145 countries provide paid sick days, with 127 providing a week or more annually. The U.S. provides unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act, which does not cover all workers; there is no federal law providing for paid sick days.
--At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of the work week. The U.S. does not have a maximum work week length or a limit on mandatory overtime per week.
According to the study, the U.S. fares comparatively well in some areas -- such as guaranteeing significantly higher pay for overtime work and ensuring the right to work for all racial and ethnic groups, regardless of gender, age or disability." AP, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 2-4-07 NVS)
Connecticut and Same-sex Marriage
"Gay rights advocates in Connecticut said on Wednesday they would introduce legislation that aims to make the state the second in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage, but they face tough opposition. Democratic state Sen. Andrew McDonald and Rep. Michael Lawlor said they would file the bill before a February 14 deadline for new legislation. ``We'll treat same-sex couples exactly the same way we'll treat opposite-sex couples,'' said Lawlor, also a Democrat.
Neighboring Massachusetts is the only U.S. state where gay marriage is legal. Vermont, New Jersey and Connecticut recognize same-sex civil unions, giving gay and lesbian couples largely the same rights as married couples -- from insurance coverage to tax benefits and hospital visiting rights.But civil unions lack federal benefits. Couples cannot file joint federal tax returns or share pensions." Reuters, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 2-4-07 NVS)