Saturday, April 10, 2010

Attitudes About Paternity Leave

The BBC reports on one Japanese official's attempt to change attitudes about leave time for the birth of a child.

A district mayor in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, is going on paternity leave on Saturday, the first local government leader ever to do so. Hironobu Narisawa, the mayor of the central Bunkyo ward, said he was aiming to change attitudes.

Japanese workers are famously reluctant to take time off after the birth of a child even though Japanese law allows either parent to have up to a year off. No other local government leader, male or female, has taken time off after the birth of a child. Nationwide, just one in 100 fathers takes any paternity leave.

Traditional gender roles remain entrenched in Japan, one reason why the birth rate is among the lowest in the world. The population is projected to shrink by a quarter by the middle of the century.

Now maybe some fathers in this country will start doing the same!

Read more here.

AC

April 10, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Russia Seeks to Stop Adoptions to US After Adoptive Family Puts Child on Plane Alone

The New York Times is reporting on a shocking story about an adopted Russian 7 year-old whose adoptive family put him on a plane alone to send him back to Moscow.  The Russian foreign minister is calling for a moratorium on adoptions to Americans after learning of the incident.

The Russian government on Friday proposed suspending all adoptions of Russian children by Americans, reacting to a scandal over a 7-year-old boy who was put on a plane by himself this week and returned to Moscow with a note from his adoptive mother in Tennessee saying that she could no longer care for him.

The mother said in the note that the boy had severe psychological problems and that she was deceived by the adoption agency into accepting him last September.

The boy, Artyom Savelyev, arrived in Moscow on Thursday on a flight from Washington, and Russian immigration officials immediately took custody of him after he presented them with the note. The boy’s mother, Torry Ann Hansen, of Shelbyville, Tenn., wrote that, “I was lied to and misled by the Russian orphanage workers.”

Officials said Artyom’s adoptive grandmother accompanied him on a flight on Wednesday from Tennessee to Washington, and then put him on the flight to Moscow. It was not immediately known which adoption agency handled his case.

The Russian government on Friday proposed suspending all adoptions of Russian children by Americans, reacting to a scandal over a 7-year-old boy who was put on a plane by himself this week and returned to Moscow with a note from his adoptive mother in Tennessee saying that she could no longer care for him.

The mother said in the note that the boy had severe psychological problems and that she was deceived by the adoption agency into accepting him last September.

The boy, Artyom Savelyev, arrived in Moscow on Thursday on a flight from Washington, and Russian immigration officials immediately took custody of him after he presented them with the note. The boy’s mother, Torry Ann Hansen, of Shelbyville, Tenn., wrote that, “I was lied to and misled by the Russian orphanage workers.”

Officials said Artyom’s adoptive grandmother accompanied him on a flight on Wednesday from Tennessee to Washington, and then put him on the flight to Moscow. It was not immediately known which adoption agency handled his case.

The adoption of Russian children by foreigners is a highly sensitive issue here, with some suggesting that it shows that the country cannot care for its own.

Read the full NY Times story here and more media coverage here.

AC

April 9, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Time to Refinance Your Home…and Reduce Ex-Spouse’s Alimony

The UK Financial Times reports that bankers are using the current recession as a good opportunity to reduce their ex-wife’s alimony:

City financiers who have seen bonuses slashed or lost jobs are flocking to the courts to seek a reduction in the amount of maintenance they pay to ex-wives.

Family lawyers said they had seen a "huge rise" in applications of so-called varying orders which ask the court to alter the levels of annual maintenance that must be paid to former spouses.

The trend is particularly pronounced where bankers getting divorced did not have the ready cash to hand over a huge sum for a "clean break" and instead agreed to pay maintenance to their former spouses - which often took into account future bonuses.

"Over the last 18 months there has been a huge rise in people seeking to vary maintenance orders," said Julian Lipson, partner and head of the family law team at Withers.

Read the rest here.

MR

April 9, 2010 in Maintenance (alimony) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Loss of Pregnancy and Divorce

A new study from the University of Michigan Medical School provides interesting statistical evidence of the increased risk of divorce after a pregnancy loss:

The grief from the loss can strain even the best of relationships, and a new study from the University of Michigan Medical School has found that couples who experience miscarriage are 22% more likely to break up.

Those that experience stillbirth are at an even greater risk – couples were 40% more likely to divorce or separate after the tragedy.

Miscarriage is defined as a pregnancy loss before 20 weeks of gestation, and stillbirth is a loss of a fetus after this time.

Dr. Katherine Gold, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at U-M, and colleagues published their findings in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics. After following 7,700 pregnant couples for 15 years, they found that most couples who ended up in divorce after pregnancy loss did so after about one-and-a-half to three years after the event; however the risk seemed to remain elevated even up to a decade later, particularly in parents that had lost a child due to stillbirth.

Read more here.

AC

April 8, 2010 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

IL Parental Notification in Abortions

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Cook County Circuit Court judge on [last] Monday lifted a temporary restraining order that has barred the Illinois parental-notification abortion law from going into effect, but then prevented state officials from enforcing the law pending an appeal.

The 1995 law, which has been delayed in court and never enforced, would require doctors to notify a parent or guardian when a girl 17 or younger seeks an abortion. In November, the Illinois medical disciplinary board decided the state could begin enforcing the law. Hours later, Judge Daniel Riley granted a temporary restraining order sought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

Read more here.

MR

April 8, 2010 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Schaefer: "Saving Children or Blaming Parents? Lessons from Mandated Parenting Classes"

Tali Schaefer (JSD Candidate at Columbia Law School) has posted "Saving Children or Blaming Parents? Lessons from Mandated Parenting Classes" (Columbia Journal of Gender & Law) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

What should family law do about divorcing parents? “Teach them a lesson,” a legislative wave sweeping through the United States has answered. As a result of the legislation, growing numbers of divorcing parents are required to attend “parent education programs,” turning these programs from a fad in family courts into an established and mandatory stop on parents’ path to divorce. This legislation mandates informational classes that focus on the harm children suffer as a consequence of divorce and on behaviors parents should change in order to reduce the damage.

This Article is the first to analyze the enactment discussions accompanying the legislation and to explore judges’ extensive role in promoting and securing its passage. It demonstrates that despite its child-oriented goals, the legislation is preoccupied with casting a negative judgment on parents’ decision to separate and with blaming parents for the negative effects of divorce. This Article argues that this preoccupation with blaming parents has resulted in laws that do little to help children and much to belittle the tangible negative implications that divorce holds for parents, especially mothers. Doing so, the legislation downplays the role that legal, social and economic forces play in producing the undesired behaviors that classes currently try to eradicate. Moreover, by laying the full responsibility for possible harm to children of divorce in individual parents’ laps, states have also shirked their responsibility for these children.

AC

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

Parental Child Abduction

A recent California case of child abduction by a parent re-focuses the spotlight on the dismal statistics associated with these abductions.

From MercuryNews.com:

WALNUT CREEK — The arrest this week of a woman who took off with her 8-year-old daughter in 1995 during a child custody dispute is being lauded by police and missing child experts as an exceptional event.

In some ways, it wasn't an exception at all.

Parental and family abductions account for nearly 97 percent of child abduction reports in the state. In Contra Costa County, all 29 abductions reported in 2008 involved family, and just one of the 64 reported in Alameda County that year was committed by a nonrelative.

But authorities say what is notable is the 15-year gap between the disappearance and discovery of Wendy Dawn Hill, now 52, and her daughter Jessica Click-Hill, now 22. According to Justice Department data culled by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, only 6 percent of children abducted by their parents are found more than six months past their reported disappearances.

"These cases usually last two or three months," said Merritt Weisinger, a Walnut Creek attorney who has specialized in family law for 36 years.

Read the rest here.

MR

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

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Impeachment of AG Over Same Sex Marriage Opinion?

The New York Times is reporting on the attempt of a Maryland state legislator to impeach the state attorney general for issuing an opinion saying that Maryland would recognize same sex marriages validly perfected elsewhere.  Read more here.

Am I the only one depressed by the politicization of this issue?

AC

April 6, 2010 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Todres: “Taking Prevention Seriously: Developing a Comprehensive Response to Child Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation”

Jonathan Todres (Georgia State University College of Law) has posted Taking Prevention Seriously: Developing a Comprehensive Response to Child Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, 43 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law__ (2010) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Millions of children are victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation each year. Governments have responded with a range of measures, focusing primarily on seeking to prosecute perpetrators of these abuses and offering assistance to select victims. These efforts, while important, have done little to reduce the incidence of these forms of child exploitation. This Article asserts that a central reason why efforts to date may not be as effective as hoped is that governments have not oriented their approaches properly toward prioritizing prevention - the ultimate goal - and addressing these problems in a comprehensive and systematic manner. Instead, efforts to date have been piecemeal and oriented toward dealing with exploitation of children after the harm occurs. This Article argues for refocusing efforts toward the development of a comprehensive, prevention-oriented strategy that addresses the root causes of these problems. The Article discusses how certain critical issues - (1) research/data; (2) program design; (3) the dominant principle guiding state responses; (4) stakeholder coordination; and (5) the interrelationship among rights - have been largely ignored in developing responses to child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. The Article suggests that, by focusing greater attention on these issues, governments and child advocates can develop more effective responses to the trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children and increase the likelihood that responses to these problems will help prevent such abuse of children.

MR

April 6, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Maillard: "Rethinking Children as Property: The Complex Family"

Kevin Maillard (Syracuse University College of Law) has posted "Rethinking Children as Property:  The Complex Family," on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Despite the collective view in law and social practice that it is intrinsically taboo to consider human beings as chattel, the law persists in treating children as property. Applying principles of property, this Article examines paternity disputes to explain and critique the laws view of children as property of their parents. As evidenced in these conflicts, I demonstrate that legal paternity exposes a rhetoric of ownership, possession, and exchange. The law presumes that a child born to a married woman is fathered by her husband, even when irrefutable proof exists to the contrary. Attempts by the non-marital biological father to assert parental rights regularly fail, as states allow only one father to 'claim' the child. This approach treats the nonmarital father as a trespasser and categorically favors the fundamental due process rights of the marital father.

Analyzing these family law cases along a property framework offers a rethinking of the law's imbalanced treatment of unmarried fathers. The law's current approach to paternity disputes reflects a classic model of property rights and ownership rooted in static, rigid, and exclusive claims. This framework ignores the interests of children in their biological fathers while overestimating the reproductive normativity of marriage.

This Article joins in recent discussions of 'stewardship' models of property that engage the complexities of nontitled claims to property. It draws upon constitutional law, property theory, and political philosophy to assert the possibility that the interests of children are better served by protecting and nurturing those relationships (i.e., those with the biological father) that are normally defeated by traditional appeals to substantive due process. By highlighting the claims of nonmarital, biological fathers, I suggest a turn to a fiduciary ethic that entertains the unique legal status of what I call the 'complex family'. This engagement of a textured - as opposed to flat and conclusory - model of the hybrid marital/nonmarital family recognizes the unwed father's property rights in the child as nontitled, while the marital unit acts as a fiduciary caregiver with legal rights to the child. By embracing the counterintuitive notion of children as property, I argue for a redirection of the existing framework of property theory to a productive model for the family that champions the best interests of the child in tandem with the constitutional interests of marital and nonmarital parents.

AC

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

Prenuptial Agreements in the Media

USA News recently had a very long article on prenuptial agreements, beginning with a skeptical look at some February 14 engagements:

Let's face it: The afterglow of that Valentine's Day proposal often begins to dim as discussions of wedding details get started.

The happy couples face potential buzz killers that are financial (how to keep reception costs down), logistical (where to seat relatives not on speaking terms) and, in recent years, even more controversial (So, honey, I love you, but how about that prenuptial agreement ...).

Read the article's analysis of prenups here.

MR

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

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Egg Donors and SAT Scores

A new report brings to light interesting data on parents' willingness to genetically trait select in the egg donation process.  

Would people shell out big bucks for offspring with preferred traits? Yes. They already do. The evidence comes from an analysis by Aaron Levine, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in the Hastings Center Report.  Levine documents what anecdotes have long suggested: Buyers of "donor" eggs offer more money to women who are likely to yield smarter kids.

Levine analyzed more than 100 ads placed in 63 college newspapers to recruit egg donors. Of these ads, 21 specified a minimum requisite SAT score. Half offered more than $5,000, and among this group, 27 percent specified an "appearance requirement." The bigger the money, the choosier the client: Above the $10,000 level, most ads "contained appearance or ethnicity requirements."

But the big story is SAT scores. "Holding all else equal, an increase of one hundred SAT points in the score of a typical incoming student increased the compensation offered to oocyte donors at that college or university by $2,350," Levine reports. When the ad was placed for a specific couple, the premium was higher: $3,130 per 100 SAT points. And when an egg donor agency placed the ad on behalf of the couple, the bonus per 100 points rose to $5,780.

Read more here.

AC

April 4, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)