Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Workplace Protections for Nannies

Working parents take heed!  NY to provide workplace protections for nannies:

. . .nannies, as well as other domestic workers who make possible the lives of New York’s eternally striving work force, have long gone without basic workplace guarantees that most employees take for granted.

That appears likely to change soon.

The State Senate this week passed a bill that would require paid holidays, sick days and vacation days for domestic workers, along with overtime wages. It would require 14 days’ notice, or termination pay, before firing a domestic worker.

The Assembly passed a similar measure last year, and lawmakers expect that the two versions will be reconciled and that Gov. David A. Paterson will sign what they say would be the nation’s first such protections for domestic workers. It would affect an estimated 200,000 workers in the metropolitan area: citizens, legal immigrants and those here illegally as well.

Gueisa Alvarez, 40, a nanny for two decades, said she felt exploited by families early in her career, before she attained the confidence to stand up for herself. She said she hoped a law would protect new workers.

“It will inform them of things they don’t understand as young women coming from some other country and just trying to make some money,” Ms. Alvarez said.

But among domestic workers, there are some doubts that immigrants lacking legal documentation would be willing to report violations of a new wage law to a government agency.

“If you are legal in this country, you will benefit from it, but if you are not, then I don’t think it will do much for you,” said Rhea Bolivia, who immigrated from the Philippines and works as a nanny for a family with two small children on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Once an employee is hired, state labor laws become enforceable, regardless of the employee’s immigration status. Penalties have been issued against supermarkets, restaurants and other employers for failing to pay overtime to groups of employees that included illegal immigrants. The legislation would give the State Labor Department and the attorney general the power to enforce its provisions.

The potential for additional costs to the families who hire the caretakers is not clear. Many already voluntarily provide such benefits. Domestic workers are now covered by minimum-wage laws, and the bills would set no other mandatory wage levels.

The bills would increase the risks of getting caught for employers who pay domestic workers off the books to avoid taxes. “That’s what we are trying to end,” Ms. Savino said.

But for nannies and parents alike, the legislation, if enacted, could well create a kind of baseline for negotiations over pay, hours and benefits. Now, the dealings typically leave both sides unsure of what is fair, and in the end, employers sometimes feeling guilty and employees feeling shortchanged.

"We are really looking toward healing the divide between employee and employer," said Sarah Fields, program coordinator at the advocacy group Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

Read the full NY Times article here.


June 19, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pregnancy and OCD

A new study "confirms and extends" a link between pregnancy and OCD:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder in which people have persistent, unwanted thoughts that compel them to repeat routines and rituals over and over. An obsession with germs or cleanliness, for example, may drive a person to wash his or her hands constantly throughout the day.

It's estimated that just over 2 million U.S. adults have OCD, with the symptoms often arising in childhood or the teenage years.

However, a few studies have found that OCD can also arise during or soon after pregnancy, and that pregnancy may worsen OCD symptoms in some women who already have the disorder.

The new study confirms and extends those findings, according to lead researcher Dr. Ariadna Forray, of Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

Using medical records and interviews with 126 women treated at the Yale OCD Clinic, the researchers found that of the 78 women who had ever been pregnant, 24 (32 percent) had their first OCD symptoms during or soon after pregnancy.

And when the researchers looked at pregnancies among women with pre-existing OCD, they found that the women's OCD symptoms worsened one-third of the time. (In a smaller number of pregnancies -- 22 percent -- symptoms actually improved.)

Forray's team also found that women whose pre-pregnancy OCD typically got worse in the premenstrual period were at greater risk of exacerbations during pregnancy. That finding, the researchers say, supports the notion that there is a "hormone-related" subtype of OCD that affects some women.

"These women may have a differential sensitivity to reproductive hormones, and, as such, normal reproductive events are triggers for the onset or exacerbation of OCD," Forray told Reuters Health in an email.

It is not known why such differences in hormone sensitivity may exist, she said, but it could involve differences in genes that help regulate, or are regulated by, reproductive hormones.

Read more here.


June 18, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Juvenile Treatment Programs

A new juvenile treatment program has been introduced in St. Charles, IL. 

From The Beacon-News:

ST. CHARLES TWP. -- Court services departments in the 16th Judicial Circuit will add a new juvenile treatment program that has had better success nationally than residential treatment programs.

It's called MST -- Multi Systemic Therapy -- and it provides counseling not only for moderate- to high-risk juveniles but also to their families. It looks at the entire community when considering ways to help at-risk youth, and it is done without putting the juvenile into residential treatment.

"The trouble with residential is that it doesn't address the family at all," Kane County Court Services Director Mary Hyatt said. "When you release them, they go back into the same situation. The family hasn't changed."

MST has been used throughout the country, and Hyatt said its success rate "exceeds residential care." Because it is new to the 16th Circuit, Hyatt said the three 16th Circuit counties -- Kane, Kendall and DeKalb -- are "ramping this up slowly," starting with 15 juvenile spots. Of those, 11 spots will go to Kane, and two each to Kendall and DeKalb.


The program takes three to five months to complete. It will be funded entirely by fees charged those who are put on probation.

Read more here.


June 18, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Changes in Indian Law to Make Outsourcing Pregnancy More Difficult

From the New York Daily News:

Foreign tourists visit India by the hundreds each year to hire surrogate moms to carry their babies for them.

It's a bargain for the would-be parents, costing them around $23,000, or about one fifth of the going rate here in the U.S., according to Time. The surrogate mom typically gets about $7,500 – paid in installments.

Now, though, the booming rent-a-womb industry in India, which has become the international capital of outsourced pregnancies, will soon be subject to new restrictions that will make it harder for foreigners to hire a surrogate.

Under consideration now is a government bill banning IVF clinics from arranging surrogacy transactions, and calling for the establishment of an "ART bank" that would locate surrogate moms and reproductive donors. Only on the operating table would the fertility clinic have contact with the surrogate.

While some in the medical community may not like the new legislation, it may mean a better life for India's surrogate moms, who could have more freedom in negotiating their fees and getting health insurance from the couple or single who has hired them to carry a baby. The new law would only permit a woman to be a surrogate up to five times and would set a 35-year age limit. This is to ensure that Indian women desperate to be surrogates can't put themselves at risk.

Read the full article here.


June 17, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Abusing Child’s Credit

It seems that a new form of child abuse is the parental abuse of a child’s credit rating.  These days, perhaps it could become a particular problem. reports:

For parents who've wrecked their own credit rating, cashing in on junior's clean financial history is increasingly tempting.

Children make easy targets for identity thieves because they don't use their own credit and likely wouldn't notice any discrepancies until they reach adulthood.

And when a parent uses his or her own child, the risk of prosecution is lower because of the family ties. It's not easy to turn in mom and dad, especially if they were simply trying to provide for the family.

Read more here.


June 17, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gender and Passports

A new development on the "gender at birth v. gender on the birth certficate" front.  From CNN:

The U.S. State Department announced Wednesday a new policy that no longer requires passport applicants seeking a gender change to have undergone sexual reassignment surgery.

The policy, which goes into effect Thursday, allows a gender change with a certification from an attending physician.

The doctor's certification must confirm only that the passport applicant has undergone treatment for gender transition.

Previously, individuals had to provide documentation from a surgeon that sex reassignment surgery had been performed on them, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Read more here.


June 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Divorcing? There’s an App for That

From Robert Ambrogi’s blog:

If you’re married to your iPhone but not so sure about your spouse, then may have just what you need. It is developing a series of iPhone apps designed for people who are considering or in the process of divorce.

Two apps have been released so far. The first, Cost & Prep, is an app that helps people plan and track the costs of divorce and that also helps track key information that will be required in a divorce case. The second, Estate Divider, helps create an inventory of assets and liabilities and then calculate how best to divide them. Each of these apps costs $9.99.

Still in development are a child-support calculator, a child-possession calculator, and a more robust version of the estate divider program.

 Read more here.


June 16, 2010 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Call for Papers for AALS Worshop on "Women Rethinking Equality"

June 4, 2010

To:   Faculty of AALS Member Schools


From:  Planning Committee for 2011 Workshop on Women Rethinking Equality: 

Kathryn Abrams, University of California, Berkeley Law, Chair
Serena Mayeri, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Elizabeth Nowicki, Tulane University Law School
Angela Onwuachi-Willig, University of Iowa College of Law 
Lisa R. Pruitt, University of California, Davis, School of Law
Stephanie M. Wildman, Santa Clara University School of Law 

Subject: Call for Presentations, Papers and Posters


We are seeking proposals for presentations, papers and posters for the 2011 Mid-Year Meeting Workshop on Women Rethinking Equality. The Workshop will be held in June, 2011 in Washington, DC. It will appeal to a full range of teachers and scholars in all subject areas by creating opportunities for a rich dialogue about the meaning, contours, implications, and status of equality for women, with particular attention to women and gender in the setting of legal education. Conference sessions will focus on substantive law and scholarship, teaching concerns, and professional development issues. We welcome participation by all AALS members-and particularly all women-regardless of whether their scholarship focuses on gender.


While the workshop will feature several plenary panels about a range of issues implicated by the topic of gender equality, we also plan to include posters and two types of concurrent sessions. The first type of concurrent session will feature presentations related to one of nine equality-related themes, and the second will provide an opportunity for scholars to receive detailed feedback on works-in-progress. 
Call for Presentations on Specific Workshop Themes

The first type of concurrent session will feature presentations on each of the following equality-related themes:

· Gender and International Human Rights
· From Reproductive Rights to Reproductive Justice
· Gender and Economic Inequality
· Gender and Criminal Law
· Gender and Corporate, Securities, Tax, Bankruptcy and Commercial Law
· Gender and the Justice System
· Theorizing Gender
· Gender and Family Law
· Gender and Employment

We expect to select three or four presentations for each of these topical sessions. Each presentation will be about 15 minutes, followed by questions from the moderator and the audience. 


Interested faculty should submit a brief written description (no more than 1000 words) of the proposed presentation, along with her or his résumé. The proposal should indicate clearly in which of the nine categories the author believes the presentation belongs. Please email these materials to by July 31, 2010. We will notify selected speakers by October 1, 2010.


Call for Papers

Women write in all fields of law, yet women at all stages of their careers who write in male-dominated fields may have fewer opportunities to present and receive feedback on their work. The same is true of junior women scholars across all academic specialties. Additionally, female and male scholars in gender and feminist jurisprudence often find their work marginalized within traditional academic disciplines and institutions. This call for papers invites scholars from these categories to present their works-in-progress and to receive comments in small group sessions with assigned commentators. Because the goal is to give these scholars more exposure, no subject matter preferences govern this call. Full drafts or nearly completed drafts are encouraged, although these drafts may be rough.


Interested faculty should submit a précis of the paper she or he would like to present, along with her or his résumé. The précis should be no more than 2500 words. Please e-mail these materials to by July 31, 2010. We will notify selected authors by October 1, 2010.


Call for Posters
Finally, the Planning Committee seeks poster presentations. Posters are intended to provide authors an opportunity to present in clear and succinct fashion the thesis and conclusion of their research or to describe teaching innovations. We invite submissions in the following veins: (a) submissions by women scholars regarding current projects on any topic or recently completed projects (including, for example, book projects published within the past two years) and (b) submissions by all scholars, regardless of gender, focusing on current or very recent projects regarding issues of gender or sex. Fliers or other advertising may not be displayed with posters. Also, posters that primarily promote a particular school's project or program are not eligible for display. Scholars whose posters are selected for presentation must attend the poster presentation session at this 2011 Mid-Year Meeting.


Interested faculty should submit an abstract for the proposed poster, along with her or his résumé, to by December 15, 2010. We will notify those selected to present posters by January 31, 2011.


Faculty members and professional staff of AALS member and fee-paid law schools are eligible to submit proposals for either of the presentation opportunities or for posters. Foreign, visiting and adjunct faculty members, graduate students, and fellows are not eligible.


Those selected for paper, presentation, or poster opportunity must register for the Workshop and pay the registration fee. Each is also responsible for his or her own travel and other expenses. Please direct questions to Professor Kathryn Abrams, University of California, Berkeley Law at; Professor Serena Mayeri, University of Pennsylvania Law School at; Professor Elizabeth Nowicki, Tulane University Law School at; Professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig, University of Iowa College of Law at; Professor Lisa R. Pruitt, University of California, Davis, School of Law at; or Professor Stephanie M. Wildman, Santa Clara University School of Law at


June 15, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rare Adultery Charge

A woman in New York, originally arrested for public lewdness, is facing a rare—in the United States—adultery charge.  She faces up to 90 days in jail or a $500 fine.  Read more here.


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

Monday, June 14, 2010

Marriage May Be Hazardous to Your Health

I knew it!  From CNN:

A new study from Ohio State University shows just how physically harmful it can be to argue the wrong way. In the study, 37 married couples were brought into a hospital research lab, and a tiny vacuum device gave them eight 8-mm blisters on their forearms. Each couple was then videotaped while having conversations, and researchers graded them on their communication skills, noting who had distressing or hostile styles of communicating.

After 12 days, the researchers noticed that the blisters healed faster on the couples who had more positive communication styles, and the blisters healed the slowest on the couples with more negative styles.

Why would physical wounds heal more quickly among the better communicators? The researchers at Ohio State who did the study think it might have something to do with oxytocin.

"Oxytocin is a protective hormone," says Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, the lead author of the study, who noted that the better communicators in her study -- the ones whose wounds healed the fastest -- had the highest levels of oxytocin in their blood.

The study was recently published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

"People get very surprised when they hear that marital stress is actually worse for your health than workplace stress," says Tara Parker-Pope, author of "For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage."

Overall, couples with more marital stress have worse immune function and higher blood pressure and heart rates, according to Debra Umberson, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas, who studies couples and stress.

"Marital stress is so pernicious because it's chronic, long-term, and you can't get away from it," she says "You're having these problems day in and day out year after year, decade after decade."

While both sexes suffer, some, but not all, studies show women suffer more physical effects from a bad marriage than men, Umberson adds.

Read the full story here.


June 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wouldn’t It Be Nice…

Nearly all of my friends had the following news story as their status message, along with something like “I wish I lived in Sweden….”  Anecdotally, demand for real paternity leave is high.

From The New York Times:

From trendy central Stockholm to this village in the rugged forest south of the Arctic Circle, 85 percent of Swedish fathers take parental leave. Those who don’t face questions from family, friends and colleagues. As other countries still tinker with maternity leave and women’s rights, Sweden may be a glimpse of the future.

In this land of Viking lore, men are at the heart of the gender-equality debate. The ponytailed center-right finance minister calls himself a feminist, ads for cleaning products rarely feature women as homemakers, and preschools vet books for gender stereotypes in animal characters. For nearly four decades, governments of all political hues have legislated to give women equal rights at work — and men equal rights at home.

Swedish mothers still take more time off with children — almost four times as much. And some who thought they wanted their men to help raise baby now find themselves coveting more time at home.

But laws reserving at least two months of the generously paid, 13-month parental leave exclusively for fathers — a quota that could well double after the September election — have set off profound social change.

Read more here.



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

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Puppy Love?

The New York Times recently ran an article about loving your significant other like your pet.  Skeptical?  Interested?  The article is available here.


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