Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Litigious Parents

From AP:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Elementary school playgrounds in one West Virginia county are losing their swing sets.

Swings are being removed from Cabell County schools in southern West Virginia in part because of lawsuits over injuries.

Cabell County schools safety manager Tim Stewart said Wednesday that a lot of parents are accusing him of being un-American, but he says the cost of maintaining a safe surface is too expensive.

Stewart says a lawsuit in the past year involved a youngster who broke his arm jumping off a swing like Superman. It was settled for $20,000.

Other equipment such as monkey bars will remain. Stewart says the schools are able to maintain the proper protection underneath them.

The article is available here.


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

Friday, October 8, 2010

10 Obscure U.S. Marriage Laws

Humorous piece from Woman's Day about 10 obscure U.S. marriage laws:  read it here.  My favorite is the rule on proof of manliness!


October 8, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Custody Battle

These custody battles are most unfortunate:

From the Chicago Tribune:

NEW ALBANY, Ind. — The lawyer for a southern Indiana couple trying to adopt a 3-year-old boy who they've raised since birth says they've agreed to mediation with the child's biological father from Ohio who's trying to gain custody.

Attorney Tom Hectus declined to elaborate after a closed Floyd County court hearing Tuesday involving Christy and Jason Vaughn of Sellersburg and Benjamin Wyrembek of Swanton, Ohio.

The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., reports a statement signed by the Vaughns and Wyrembek says they are trying to resolve their dispute in the boy's best interests.

The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped action on Ohio adoption and custody proceedings while it considers an appeal of a ruling in Wyrembek's favor.

Read the article here.


Hat Tip: ER


October 8, 2010 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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)