Family Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Call for Papers: University of Dayton Law Symposium on Custody

2011 Gilvary Symposium

Call for Presenters

Custody Through the Eyes of the Child

January 21, 2010,

University of Dayton School of Law

We are proud to announce the 2011 Gilvary Symposium at the University of Dayton School of Law. The topic of this year’s symposium will be

Custody Through the Eyes of the Child

The goal of the symposium is to explore issues pertaining to child custody from a child’s perspective. Planned panels’ topics include: (1) How should courts deal with conflicts between children’s stated preferences or children’s attorneys and Guardian ad Litem testimony?; (2) Do mediation, collaborative lawyering and other avenues of alternative (appropriate) dispute resolution better comport with children’s interests and perspectives?; (3) How do we practically and ethically tailor lawyering techniques to comport with children’s needs and interests?; and (4) How should courts and lawmakers balance policy and constitutional concerns such as religious freedom, freedom of movement and combating discrimination with the best interests of the child? Other presentations on topics focused on custodial issues from a child’s perspective are welcomed.

The keynote address will be given by Prof. Katherine Bartlett of Duke Law School and other featured speakers will include, Prof. Barbara Glesner-Fines, Prof. Annette Appell and Prof. Katherine Hunt Federle.

Publication opportunities for essay length manuscripts exist for those who are interested in a special symposium edition of the University of Dayton Law Review. Presentations based on recently published or publications recently accepted for publication are welcome.

Please email presentation proposals of no more than 500 words by Nov. 1, 2010 to Pamela Laufer-Ukeles at


October 7, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The TV Family

Last month, CNN ran a fun story about TV families here.


October 7, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Surrogacy for Gay Couples in the News

ABC News recently spotlighted a surrogacy agency in California primarily serving gay and lesbian couples wanting to become parents:

...Growing Generations, a surrogacy agency based in Los Angeles ... has become the destination of choice for many gay families nationwide. According to the company, it has helped bring approximately 850 babies to couples since it launched in 1996.

"About 75 percent are gay couples," said Growing Generations CEO Stuart Miller. "We initially started the company specifically to help members of the gay and lesbian community. It's a very complex, complicated process that involves attorneys, doctors, psychologists, insurance."

With the cost of a surrogate birth ranging from $125,000 to $200,000, the agency has attracted celebrity couples ...

The Growing Generations process is a curious mixture of courtship and online shopping. Prospective parents begin by scrolling through the company's database of pre-screened egg donors, where there is information on everything from ethnicity to education, as well as video of the potential donors.

Once an egg donor is selected, prospective parents begin a similar search for another woman to act as a surrogate. Once the couple has met their chosen surrogate and definitively confirmed she will carry the child, the eggs from the egg donor are fertilized with sperm collected from one or both gay men and implanted into the surrogate, who aims to carry the baby to full term. Many couples mix the sperm so they won't know which man is the biological father.

Growing Generations uses strict guidelines to ensure there are no legal entanglements between prospective parents and surrogates. The surrogate must be someone other than the egg donor, and must have already given birth to a child.

"It does make the process emotionally easier for the surrogate and the intended parents that she's not biologically connected to the child that she's carrying," Stuart said. "We want to make sure that the surrogate understands what it's like actually having a baby and how she's going to feel about giving that baby up, even though it's not her biological offspring."

Surrogates can earn $30,000 for carrying embryos to term and are screened to determine their psychological fitness for the job.

"We work with a psychologist and she has screened and evaluated probably over a thousand surrogates," Stuart said.

As a result of the thorough process, Growing Generations has never had a case where a surrogate tried to assert parental rights and keep the baby, he said.

Read more here.


October 6, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Divorce Lawyer Pays Client

After being paid $378,000, a divorce lawyer in the DC-area recently sued his former client for $500,000 in fees and interest.  The client hired an expert that discredited the lawyer’s work, and the lawyer ended up settling the case by paying the former client $102,000, including $25,000 in sanctions for not complying with discovery requests.  Discovery in the case revealed examples of days when the divorce lawyer billed—in ONE day— 39 hours, 31 hours, 40 hours, and 71 hours.  Read the article here and blog coverage here.



October 6, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adelstein: "Single Mothers and Marriage Promotion: Considering the Consequences of Divorce"

Shirley Adelstein (Georgetown University) has posted "Single Mothers and Marriage Promotion: Considering the Consequences of Divorce" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Concerns about the relationship between family structure and poverty have led to the emergence of public policies aimed at promoting marriage as an anti-poverty strategy. The disproportionately high poverty rates among female-headed households make the women who head them likely targets for such programs. Using data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, this study employs regression-based simulations to show how never married mothers would fare in marriage and divorce relative to their actual poverty levels and relative to the actual poverty levels of married and divorced mothers who have had a non-marital first birth. The results show that the benefits of marriage for never married mothers are highly conditional on the possibility of divorce, spousal quality, and differences in the characteristics of never married, married, and divorced women. These results have implications for the potential efficacy and design of marriage promotion programs.


October 5, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Biglaw Firms as Counsel in Divorce?

One author suggests that more biglaw firms will want to become involved in family law due to potential payouts.  Read about it here.


October 5, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cashmore: "Children's Participation in Family Law Decision-Making: Theoretical Approaches to Understanding Children's Views"

Judith Cashmore (University of Sydney Faculty of Law) has posted "Children’s Participation in Family Law Decision-Making: Theoretical Approaches to Understanding Children’s Views" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The aim of this paper is to explore children’s views about their involvement in the post-separation arrangements that were made in their families and via the court process in the light of three theoretical models. The three models include two variants of the procedural justice theory – the instrumental and the relational – and Smart’s conceptualisation of children’s ethic of care and ethic of respect. There has to date been little procedural justice research specifically with children. This paper also distinguishes between various aspects of children’s participation, a term that carries a number of meanings and is used in various ways. In particular, it examines children’s reasons for wanting to be involved or not, and the association between the amount of say children thought they had had, how much say they wanted, and the perceived fairness of the arrangements and their happiness with them.


October 4, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Marriage Rates

From the Wall Street Journal:

Marriage rates among young adults have been dropping for decades. But data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau show that for the first time the proportion of people between the ages of 25 and 34 who have never been married exceeded those who were married in 2009—46.3% versus 44.9%, according to an analysis by Mark Mather, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a non-profit research organization in Washington.

According to the article, “High divorce rates, rising co-habitation and a tendency to delay marriage are main factors,” read it here




October 4, 2010 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Father Sentenced for Child Support Arrears in Excess of $500,000

The story of one Michigan man's serious child support issues:

The Muskegon man has fathered 23 children with 14 women, and is more than $533,000 in arrears in his child-support payments, according to the attorney general's office, which has been pushing a case against Veal -- tied to two of those children -- in Kent County Circuit Court.

On Thursday, Judge Dennis Leiber sentenced Veal, 44, to two to four years in prison for failure to pay child support, a felony. With this sentence, the judge far exceeded the state guidelines, which called for Veal to get no more than six months in the county jail.

"You are the poster child for irresponsibility," Leiber told Veal, who appeared surprised by the sentence. "You're an insult to every responsible father who sacrifices to provide for their children."

Read more here.


October 3, 2010 in Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Something old, something blue, and something new--like a face?

Unbelievable…From the Hollywood Reporter:

In one of the most shocking reality TV ideas yet, E! has ordered a new series that crosses a wedding competition with extreme plastic surgery.

The network is set to announce “Bridalplasty,” where brides-to-be compete in wedding-themed challenges to win extensive surgical procedures.

Each week, a group of women go head-to-head in such challenges as writing wedding vows and planning honeymoons. The winner receives the chance to choose a plastic surgery procedure from her “wish list.” She’s given the procedure immediately, and results are shown at the start of the following week’s episode.

One by one, the women are voted out by their rivals and, according to the show’s description, face “possibly walking away with nothing and losing [their] chance to be the perfect bride.”

The last bride standing will receive a “dream wedding,” where she will reveal her new appearance to friends, family and the groom. “Viewers will witness his emotional and possibly shocked reaction as they stand at the altar and he lifts her veil to see her for the first time following her extreme plastic surgery,” E! said.

Read more here.



October 2, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Vow Renewals as the New Marriage Trend

From the New York Times:

Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon did it earlier this year at their Beverly Hills Estate. This was the second vow renewal for the couple in as many years of marriage. To mark the occasion, he presented her with a diamond-and-sapphire-encrusted Ring Pop-shaped ring. Heidi Klum and Seal, who wed five years ago, give a vow-renewal celebration each year of their marriage; the events have become a kind of springtime version of the Ms. Klum’s yearly Halloween parties. Last year, she had a “white trash” theme. Guests, dressed in their trailer park finest, gathered while a cornrowed Ms. Klum and a mullet-wearing Seal were joined in matrimony again. An Elvis impersonator officiated. This year the vow renewal was done in Mexico and had a wedding theme: all the guests wore tuxedos and white dresses.

Jennifer Lopez and her husband, Marc Anthony, renewed theirs this year as well. This was a second vow-renewal ceremony for Mr. Anthony. His first one was to the former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres in 2002. The two separated the next year.

It seems that restating vows is not a panacea for the evils of divorce, and may even bring into question the sturdiness of the original utterances. The first time, you mean it, but if there’s the chance that down the line you’ll really really mean it, then does that change the way you might have felt the first time?

Then again, perhaps the desire to reaffirm commitment is a healthy reaction to the changing state of marriage.

The path to divorce is increasingly well trod and holds less stigma than it did a generation ago. What’s more, we live longer than many of our married ancestors, which can mean more years and opportunity for failure. The result is, arguably, an increasingly delicate kind of union that perhaps needs a certain degree of coddling.

“It’s an institution that might now need renewing,” said W. Bradford Wilcox of the National Marriage Project. “People have these blowout weddings, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate with having a long marriage and maintaining it. A vow renewal can be a signifier to oneself and to the larger community that something has endured and that there is a commitment to keep it going.”

Indeed, modern marriage also requires more communication than in unions dictated by gender roles. “What keeps a marriage going today is so different than in the past,” said Stephanie Coontz, author of “Marriage: A History” and the director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families. “In other times, couples didn’t need to renew their vows unless they were quite exceptional in the way they saw their relationship.

“Women were dependent on men,” she continued. “He had economic leverage, and she had to keep the marriage working by either changing her husband or changing herself. Today, we come to marriage expecting it to be truly fair and even and to negotiate in a way that didn’t happen before.”

And what better reason to have a party.

Read the full article here.


October 1, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

German Case on HIV Infection

From MyWay:

DARMSTADT, Germany (AP) - A German court has found a girl-band singer guilty of causing bodily harm to an ex-boyfriend by having unprotected sex with him despite knowing she was infected with HIV but she won't spend any time in prison.

News agency ddp reported the Darmstadt administrative court on Thursday handed 28-year-old Nadja Benaissa a two-year suspended sentence after finding the No Angels bandmember guilty.

Benaissa helped her case during the nearly two-week trial by acknowledging she had unprotected sex despite knowing she was HIV-positive and saying it was a big mistake.

Read more here.


October 1, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)