Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Domestic Violence Evidence in IL

An Illinois appellate court recenty held that section 115-7.4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/115-7.4 (West. Supp. 2007)), which allows prior acts of domestic battery to be admissible in a domestic battery trial, does not violate equal protection because it has sufficiently rational bases and offers relevance, probative value, and notice safeguards.  The case is People v. Dabbs, No. 3-08-0709 (Ill. Ct. App. 2010).  Read the opinion here.


May 1, 2010 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Motro: "Preglimony"

Shari Motro (University of Richmond School of Law) has posted "Preglimony" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Unmarried lovers who conceive are strangers in the eyes of the law. If the woman terminates the pregnancy, the man owes her nothing. If she takes the pregnancy to term, the man’s obligation to support her is limited. The law reflects this lovers-as-strangers presumption by making a man’s obligation towards a woman with whom he conceives derivative of his paternity-related obligations; his duty is towards his child, not towards the woman in her own right. Thus, a pregnant woman’s lost wages and other personal costs are her private problem, and if there is no child at the end of the pregnancy, there is no one - from a legal perspective - that the man must support.

The law also endorses this lovers-as-strangers default in the way in which it treats men who do support their pregnant lovers. It does this through the tax code. Current tax law regards payments between unmarried lovers as gifts or as child support. This characterization not only misses the mark descriptively, it also misses an opportunity to reward and encourage a behavior that is critically important in an age when sex and procreation outside of marriage are common.

This Article argues that the law should develop a new framework for addressing the unique relationship between unmarried lovers who conceive and that tax reform offers a practical and relatively modest first step for doing so. To this end, it proposes that Congress create a pregnancy support deduction. The deduction would benefit taxpayers who support pregnant women above a certain threshold by extending to them the same deduction we now give taxpayers who pay alimony.


April 30, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Recordings Evidence in IL Fitness Hearing

An Illinois appellate court recently reversed and remanded a case on the basis that the trial court erred in admitting recordings of vulgar telephone conversations between parents in a hearing determining a mother’s fitness.  The appellate court noted that the recording lacked proper foundation and were not authenticated.  The dissent, however, underscored that no objection as to foundation was made at the trial level.  The case is In  re C.H., L.H., and W.H., Minors, Nos. 3-08-0529, 3-08-0534 & 3-08-0535 (Ill.Ct. App. March 18, 2010).  Read the full opinion here.



April 30, 2010 in Termination of Parental Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Win" the Lottery, Lose a Wife?

A British postal worker blames the end of his marriage on his error in throwing away a winning lottery ticket:

Cemal Celikkanat, 38, a driver for the Royal Mail, said he thought the dollar amounts on the scratch-off card he purchased at Charnock News and Booze in Sheffield had to be in a row to win, but the card pays out for any three-of-a-kind dollar amounts, the Sheffield Telegraph reported Friday.

"When I found out I felt dizzy and dropped to my knees -- it was like being hit over the head. I threw away 100,000 pounds ($153,000)," he said. "I feel so terrible, I think about it every day, it's had a massive impact on my life."

He said he tried to retrieve the ticket from the trash at the convenience store but was told it had already been sent to an incinerator.

"I have left my wife -- we were having financial difficulties and this was the final straw. My colleagues tease me saying I must be rich because I can afford to throw away a fortune," he said. "When I bought my first scratch card six years ago you had to have three in a row to win. I assumed that applied to all the games I've played since then -- I can't bear to think about how much money I've thrown away."

He also says he has become "a laughing stock at work."  Maybe some stupid things we do should be kept private!

Read more here.


April 29, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hessick: “Disentangling Child Pornography from Child Sex Abuse”

Carissa Byrne Hessick (Arizona State, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law) has posted Disentangling Child Pornography from Child Sex Abuse, 88 Washington University Law Review__ (2010), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the criminal penalties associated with possession of child pornography. The new severity appears to be premised on arguments that blur the distinction between those who possess images of child pornography and those who sexually abuse children. In particular, sentences have been increased based on arguments that possession of pornography is equivalent to or worse than child sex abuse, arguments that viewing child pornography increases the risk that an individual will sexually abuse a child, and arguments that those who possess child pornography are abusing children undetected. This Article identifies instances where possession of child pornography and child sex abuse have been conflated, critically evaluates the arguments that promote such conflation, and identifies independent concerns with conflation. Specifically, it argues that blurring the distinction between the two crimes allows us to continue to misperceive child sex abuse as a stranger-danger issue, and that when law enforcement statistics aggregate possession and child sex abuse, then the public may be misled into believing that law enforcement is successfully battling child sex abuse, when that is not the case. The Article concludes that the modern trend of increasing sentences for possession of child pornography ought to be reviewed, and it suggests several possible areas of reform.


April 29, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Supreme Court to Hear Argument on Privacy of Traditional Marriage Supporters

The United States Supreme Court will hear argument today in Doe #1 v. Reed, a case testing whether the Washington Secretary of State permissibly sought to release the names and addresses of individuals signing a referendum petition opposing same sex marriage.

Read more here.


April 28, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Balancing Parental Rights with Children’s Interests

An Illinois Appellate Court recently held that not requiring a 15-year-old child to testify at a best interest hearing, when against the best interests of the child, did not deprive the mother of her fundamental right to care, custody and control of her child.  The case is In re A.W., Jr. , Nos. 3-09-0788, 3-09-0789 (Ill. App.Ct. Jan. 13, 2010).  Read the opinion here.


April 28, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Preventing Adoption Disasters

The New York Times blog recently featured a discussion on "How to Prevent Adoption Disasters."  Six experts in adoption law - professors, lawyers, and social workers - give their unique perspectives on what can go wrong after an international adoption and what we might do to reduce the risk of a failed adoption.

Read the series here.


April 27, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Collins, Leib, & Markel: “(When) Should Family Status Matter in the Criminal Justice System?”

Jennifer M. Collins (Wake Forest University-School of Law), Ethan J. Leib (University of California-Hastings College of the Law), & Dan Markel (Florida State University College of Law) have posted (When) Should Family Status Matter in the Criminal Justice System?, 13 New Criminal Law Review 151-175 (2010) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Last year, we published a book entitled Privilege or Punish: Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties (Oxford 2009). Recently, the New Criminal Law Review published a series of provocative and challenging reviews of this book by Professors Doug Berman, Naomi Cahn, and Jack Chin. Needless to say, we appreciate their very kind words about our project and its contributions.

In this Essay, however, our focus will be on responding to the interesting criticisms lodged against our book; we hope to do so in a way that is helpful in advancing the conversation about the intersection between criminal justice and family status beyond these pages.

P.S. The full symposium can be downloaded at this link on ssrn:


April 27, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 26, 2010

UK Apologizes to Pope Over Gay Marriage Memo

The British government has issued a formal apology to the Pope for an internal memo suggesting that the Pope should bless gay marriage or "open an abortion ward" on an upcoming visit to England:

The highly sarcastic document was written by a junior official at the Foreign Office -- the U.K.'s equivalent of the State Department -- during a brainstorming session to develop an itinerary for Pope Benedict XVI's September trip, the first by a pontiff to Britain since 1982. The memo was sent to the prime minister's office and three other government departments, and came with a warning that its contents "should not be shared externally" as they included "even the most far-fetched of ideas."

Those unholy proposals, published by the Sunday Telegraph included suggestions that the pontiff use the trip to launch a range of "Benedict" condoms, "announce sacking of dodgy bishops," and take part in a public gymnastics display where he could "do forward rolls with children to promote healthy living." It also noted the pope could apologize for the Spanish Armada of 1588 or sing a charity song with Queen Elizabeth II.

After the Telegraph went public with the revelations, the Foreign Office issued a speedy apology, saying, "This is clearly a foolish document. Many of the ideas in the document are clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful."  Steven Mulvain, the 23-year-old Oxford graduate who penned the document -- and who once declared in a podcast that his hobbies included "drinking a lot" -- went unpunished. However, a more senior official who allowed the document to be sent out uncensored has since been "transferred to other duties," the government said.

Several religious leaders issued strong condemnations of the document, saying it revealed the government's anti-Christian bias.

Read the full story here.


April 26, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sexting Bill in IL

From the Chicago Tribune:

Students under 18 who use computers or cell phones to share nude photos of their peers would earn little more than a scolding under a measure the Illinois Senate approved . . . to address the "sexting" phenomenon.

Offenders would not face criminal charges, but would get juvenile court supervision that could result in counseling or community service. The bill doesn't address youths who send or receive racy photos if they don't distribute them.

"We're not trying to prosecute them if they keep it between themselves," said Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville, who got a similar bill through the Illinois House last week. "It's when the third party is involved. That's when you get the situations where so-and-so committed suicide because the picture got up everywhere."

Read the rest here.


April 26, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Egging a Judge...Don’t Try it at Home

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

He could have been charged with egg-ravated battery.

Instead, a Naperville man was jailed Wednesday for criminal contempt for throwing a raw egg at a DuPage County judge who had previously jailed him for failing to make child-support payments.

He missed Judge Timothy McJoynt. But the egg splattered on an American flag behind the bench.

Agim Demiri was subdued by a deputy, then ordered by the judge to serve seven days in jail.

McJoynt was presiding over a child-support hearing involving Demiri and his two children. In January, the judge had ordered him to spend several days in jail for nonpayment. Demiri has fallen behind in his child support by as much as $17,510, records show.

Read the article here.


April 25, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)