Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Is Facebook Increasing Divorce?

A Fox News story suggests it may:

The dangers of social networking sites for the young are well documented, but increasing numbers of middle-aged users are also having their private lives thrown into turmoil by online activity.

Marriage counselors claim sites like Facebook are contributing to separations and divorce as bored 40 and 50-somethings try to reconnect with childhood sweethearts. British divorce firm Divorce-Online said Facebook was cited in one-fifth of the divorce petitions it processed last year...

Australian Family Relationships Clearing House manager Elly Robinson said online behavior was causing friction in households.

"People will come in (for counseling) where one partner may deny their online behavior has been any sort of problem, but the issue is ... if it's upsetting one of those people in the relationship, it's a problem," she said.

Robinson said the lack of research on the effect of online behavior on relationships was surprising, considering the widespread use of social networking.

"Relationships develop more quickly online because inhibitions are lowered, it's easy to exchange information, people are online 24/7, there's an (endless) amount of people you can link up with who are there for the same reason, real life pressures fade away ... it's a bit of a fantasy world," she said.

Relationships Australia vice-president Anne Hollonds said while the Internet had made it easier to reconnect with lost loves, people ultimately had to take responsibility for their actions.

"The Internet doesn't make people have affairs.

"It's become the pathway of choice for many people but I don't think that means the Internet is breaking up families," she said.

"Everyone has some degree of fantasy about a love that might have been from the past and the technology now helps you find these people.

"But there's no evidence to suggest that had the technology not been available, you wouldn't have had an affair with someone else anyway."

Read the full story here.


April 17, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Yemeni Child Bride Dies After Alleged Marital Rape

A 13-year old Yemeni bride has died after allegedly being forced into sex by her 23 year-old husband.  Hopefully the case will bring new attention to pending legislation to raise the minimum age for marriage to 17.

A 13-year-old Yemeni child bride who bled to death shortly after marriage was tied down and forced to have sex by her husband, according to interviews with the child's mother, police and medical reports.

Elham Assi, 13, bled to death hours after she spoke to her mother and just days after she was married to a 23-year-old man. She died on April 2 in the deeply poor Yemeni village of Shueba, some 200 kilometers northwest of the capital. Her husband, Abed al-Hikmi, is in police custody.

The practice of marrying young girls is widespread in Yemen where a quarter of all females marry before the age of 15, according to a 2009 report by the country's Ministry of Social Affairs. Traditional families prefer young brides because they are seen as more obedient and are expected to have more children.

Legislation to ban child brides has been stalled by opposition from religious leaders. There has been no government comment over the case.

The girl — one of eight siblings — was pushed into marriage after an agreement between her brother and her future-husband to marry each other's sisters to avoid having to pay expensive bride-prices — a common arrangement in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East.

According to police notes from the interrogation of the husband, he was upset because he could not consummate their relationship and felt under pressure to prove his manhood.

Assi's mother said she also tried to persuade her daughter to have sex with her husband so as not to shame the family.

Al-Hikmi took his young bride to a nearby medical clinic, asking a doctor there to administer her tranquilizers so she would not resist his advances. The clinic said it refused.

Al-Hikmi then obtained performance enhancing pills, according to the police interrogation, and that night completed the act while she screamed.

The next day, he returned to the same medical clinic carrying Assi because she could not walk . . . A forensic report obtained by the AP showed that Assi's injuries were much more extensive . . .

The practice of marrying young girls is widespread in Yemen and has drawn the attention of international rights groups seeking to pressure the government to outlaw child marriages.

"Early marriage places girls at increased risk of dropping out of school, being exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation, and even losing their lives from pregnancy, childbirth and other complications," said UNICEF's regional director Sigrid Kaag, in a statement Wednesday condemning the death.

A February 2009 law set the minimum age for marriage at 17, but it was repealed and sent back to parliament's constitutional committee for review after some lawmakers called it un-Islamic. The committee is expected to make a final decision on the legislation this month.

Read more here.


April 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Minor’s Abortion During School Hours


SEATTLE -- The mother of a Ballard High School student is fuming after the health center on campus helped facilitate her daughter's abortion during school hours.

The mother, whom KOMO News has chosen to identify only as "Jill," says the clinic kept the information "confidential." 

When she signed a consent form, Jill figured it meant her 15 year old could go to the Ballard Teen Health Center located inside the high school for an earache, a sports physical, even birth control, but not for help terminating a pregnancy.

The girl received a pass and sent off in a taxi to have the abortion during school hours.  Read more here.


April 16, 2010 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Views on Marriage from Children of the Divorce Generation

A new survey sheds some light on contemporary attitudes about marriage and divorce:

Children of the "divorce generation" have kept faith in marriage, a survey has claimed, with most hoping to walk down the aisle in the mid-20s.

The Marriage and Wedding Survey, commissioned by More magazine, found that more than 80% of young women with separated parents still dream of getting married, although almost four in 10 over the age of 26 fear being "left on the shelf".

While divorce rates continue to soar, 78% said they thought marriage was the "ultimate commitment" - beyond even buying a house or having a baby with their partner.

Most women said they wanted to be married at 26 and pregnant by 27 - a significant turnaround on 10 years ago when the majority wanted to delay marriage until their 30s.

"Young women's attitudes towards the age they marry are coming full circle - only 15% of young women now think '30 or over' is the best age to marry and only 27% think it's best to have a first child 'after 30'," a survey spokesman said.

"Times are changing fast. Just 10 years ago, young women were saying the opposite."

Read more here.


April 15, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


From the

Researchers believe technology could be used to determine a computer typist's age, sex and culture within 10 keystrokes by monitoring their speed and rhythm.

The murder of Ashleigh Hall, a teenager from Darlington, last year by a predator she met on Facebook has raised fresh calls for extra security to protect young people on the internet.

Professor Roy Maxion, associate professor at Newcastle University, has been carrying out the research in America.

Former Northumbria Police detective chief inspector Phil Butler believes the technology could be useful in tracking down online fraudsters and paedophiles.

Read more here.


April 15, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Incest, Polygamy, Drug Use . . . and Same Sex Marriage?

According to Mike Huckabee, they're all alike:

Mike Huckabee, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, says the effort to allow gays and lesbians to marry is comparable to legalizing incest, polygamy and drug use.

Huckabee also told college journalists last week that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt. "Children are not puppies," he said.

Huckabee visited The College of New Jersey in Ewing, N.J., last Wednesday to speak to the Student Government Association. He also was interviewed by a campus news magazine, The Perspective, which published an article on Friday.

Huckabee told the interviewer that not every group's interests deserve to be accommodated, if their lifestyle is outside of what he called "the ideal."

"That would be like saying, well there's there are a lot of people who like to use drugs so let's go ahead and accommodate those who want to use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, should we accommodate them?" he said, according to a transcript of the interview.

The 2008 presidential hopeful and former Arkansas governor also said that deciding which lifestyles should be accommodated and which ones should not creates a slippery slope.

"Why do you get to choose that two men are OK but one man and three women aren't OK?" he asked.

Read more here.


April 14, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

“Mommy Track”: Past, Present, & Future

Available here is an interesting Slate article about the origins of the “mommy track,” and its future.  One observation: “The language of the mommy track—flexibility, balance—is infiltrating more and more jobs and replacing traditional work values—long hours, face time—as the new workplace ideal.”


April 14, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Same Sex Marriage in California Will Not Be on November Ballot

The New York Times is reporting on the status of efforts to overturn Prop 8 in California:

Gay rights activists said they failed to qualify for the November ballot a measure that would repeal the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.  Monday was the deadline for submitting the nearly 695,000 signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot. Sean Bohac, the chairman of Restore Equality 2010, said same-sex marriage supporters would try again in 2012.

Read more here and here.


April 13, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Murphy: “Revitalizing the Adversary System in Family Law”

Jane C. Murphy (University of Baltimore—School of Law) has posted Revitalizing the Adversary System in Family Law, 78 University of Cincinnati Law Review__ (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The way in which families resolve disputes has undergone dramatic change over the last decade. Scholars have focused much attention on a number of substantive law changes that have contributed to this transformation. These include the changing definitions of marriage, parenthood, and families. But less attention has been paid to the enormous changes that have taken place in the processes surrounding family dispute resolution. These changes have been even more comprehensive and have fundamentally altered the way in which disputing families interact with the legal system.  Both the methods and goals of legal intervention for families in conflict have changed, altering the roles of judges and lawyers and moving much of dispute resolution out of the courtroom. These developments have profound implications for the family justice system. They also reflect a broader jurisprudential shift away from the traditional values of the adversary system in both the civil and, to a lesser extent, the criminal justice system. The impact of this shift in this context has not been fully explored, particularly the direct and harmful impact of such changes on low income litigants.  Part One of this Article describes the changes that have contributed to this paradigm shift. Part Two explores the fundamental ways in which the shift alters the traditional adversary system and the risks presented by these shifts. Finally, the Article offers proposals to assist in weighing the relative benefits of the therapeutic and adversarial approaches. Countering the trend in recent reform efforts, the Article argues that reinvesting in the adversary system will provide the best framework for a justice system that serves all families.


April 13, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Adultery Lingo, Thanks to Tiger Woods and Jesse James

It seems pop culture has adopted a new label for the conduct most recently displayed by straying celebrities - "chexting," or "cheating on their spouses, in part by arranging liaisons via text messages."

Their affairs have spawned a new word in pop culture, chexting, and raised the question of whether it really is cheating on a spouse. The experts say, you bet it is.

"It's lipstick on the cellular -- digital proof that becomes evidence you've been unfaithful," says Peter Dedman of Predicto Mobile, the largest paid mobile community in America.

In today's digital age, where cell phones come equipped with their own typing keyboards separate from the number pads, texting has become more popular than e-mailing for some, and sending a text from a small phone can be done almost anywhere.

It is instant gratification and contact, but for those who have a hard time staying faithful, texting has become medium to facilitate their cheating.

Los Angeles family law attorney Stacy D. Phillips says she's seeing more and more divorce cases involving spouses being unfaithful through technology -- including Internet chat rooms, instant messages and texts.

Part of the allure, she says, is that the "chext" is not finished when both parties stop sending messages.

"The person can keep re-reading the texts throughout the day, getting titillated all over again," she said.

"It's giving them a rush - it's exciting," said clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist Stella Resnick. "The fact that they are not telling anybody else and sneaking around on their partner adds to the excitment."

Resnick likens this behavior to that of a teenager rebelling against their parent.

"If you're married, going against your spouse is asserting your independence. That feels sexy. If you're under somebody else's control, breaking out of that gives a feeling of exhilaration and power."

But don't be fooled into thinking you're safe. If you've sexted and chexted, you might soon be "exted" by your spouse.

Dedman said one of the first places a suspicious spouse may look for evidence of cheating is a cell phone contact list.

And deleting a chext doesn't mean it is no longer stored in a phone's memory, said Michelle Jerson, who hosts a radio relationship show on New Jersey 101.5.

"There's software you can download to retrieve erased data," she said.

Read more here.


April 12, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Job Commitment and Recent Motherhood Mutually Exclusive?

This story suggests to avoid job interviewing while pregnant, a disappointing contention.  From the London Evening Standard:

A City law firm was today hit by fresh accusations of sexism.

The claims came from a former senior lawyer at Eversheds who spoke out after a colleague's email asked how a job applicant who had recently given birth could be questioned on her “commitment”.

Stewart Shackleton, 51, who was co-head of the international arbitration group, resigned in a dispute linked to the email last month. Today he claimed the firm ordered a secret investigation into the woman's background when she applied for the job, while carrying out no checks on male rivals.

Mr Shackleton also said it was “inaccurate” for the firm to claim it had investigated and dealt with the email from Stuart Dutson “swiftly and decisively”. In fact, the issues remained unresolved when he quit the firm on 26 January, he said.

It was revealed that Mr Dutson had emailed Mr Shackleton and a colleague last June to ask: “This lady has recently had a child. Are there any guidelines on how we can ask questions properly designed to identify her commitment, hours she is prepared to do, how she will balance work and a child?”

Read the rest here.


April 12, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What’s in a Name?

An Australian court recently denied a mother’s request to prohibit her child and ex-husband from using a variation of “mother” to address the child’s new stepmother.

From BBC News:

An Australian court has rejected a mother's request to ban the use of the term "mummy D" to refer to her daughter's step-mother.

The woman separated from the father before their daughter turned one, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

She had told the Family Court that encouraging the daughter to use the term was "an incendiary action".

But the judge said it was impractical to stop the father from encouraging the child and step-mother to use the term.

The father had already agreed to use the initial of the step-mother, D, and not encourage the use of mum or mummy, the newspaper reported.

Justice Christine Dawe said that the use of the expression by the stepmother "would [not] undermine the mother's relationship with the child".

Read the rest here.


April 11, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)