Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!!!


December 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Family is the Reason for the Season...

...for most people.  A new survey shows that almost half of Americans view Christmas as primarily a time for family, not religion.  Read more here.


December 24, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Call for Papers: Midwest Family Law Consortium




THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 2011 - FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2011



            The first decade of the 21st century has been an exciting time for family law scholars, teachers and practitioners.  Family law is more dynamic than ever, with changing social definitions of family and greater use of science and technology to create families.  Themes that have emerged in the first decade of the century will likely inform family law reforms in the coming decades.   The Midwest Family Law Consortium seeks papers that explore these issues and other hot topics for the 4th annual conference, June 16-17, 2011, at Michigan State University College of Law.

            While papers that address cutting edge themes in family law are encouraged, all paper and panel proposals are welcomed.  In addition, professors who wish to discuss techniques and insights concerning family law education are welcome to submit proposals for a teaching panel or panels.

            Interested persons should submit a one-page proposal with the name, title, and institutional affiliation of the presenter(s) and a brief summary of the proposed presentation to Cynthia Lee Starnes, Professor of Law, MSU College of Law at .  Proposals submitted before January 31, 2011 will be given priority consideration.

            The conference will begin Thursday, June 16, 2011, with an opening reception and dinner. Conference sessions will be held on Friday, June 17th and conclude by 5:00 p.m.

            The Midwest Family Law Consortium is an organization of law schools whose members collaborate to advance family law scholarship and teaching. Founded by the family law faculty of the University of Missouri Kansas City, William Mitchell College of Law and Indiana University Indianapolis, with additional sponsoring members Michigan State and Washburn law schools, the consortium is open to any law school, but serves primarily the Midwest region.

For further information contact:


            Melanie B. Jacobs                                                       Cynthia Lee Starnes

            Associate Professor of Law                                        Professor of Law

            MSU College of Law                                                 MSU College of Law

            441 Law College Building                                          411 Law College Building

            East Lansing, MI 48824                                             East Lansing, MI 48824        

            (517)432-6944                                                                        (517)432-6899                                     


December 23, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

300+ Haitian Children Headed to New French Homes

From The Washington Post:

PARIS -- More than 300 Haitian children are preparing to fly to Paris with their new French adoptive families, just in time for the holidays.

French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said Saturday that 318 children had been cleared for adoption and were being allowed to leave the Caribbean country, which is still reeling from a January earthquake and now experiencing a deadly cholera epidemic.

Authorities chartered two airplanes so French families can pick up the children. The flights will leave Paris on Tuesday and Thursday, Alliot-Marie said in a statement.

Read more here.


December 23, 2010 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Second Parent Adoption Struck Down by North Carolina Supreme Court

The North Carolina Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday striking down the second parent adoption of a same sex couple.  From The Charlotte Observer:

North Carolina's highest court on Monday voided a state senator's adoption of her former domestic partner's biological son, a move that appears to close a method for same-sex couples to adopt unless the Legislature steps in.

The state Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that the adoption of Melissa Jarrell's son by state Sen. Julia Boseman was invalid because a Durham County District Court judge waived a requirement five years ago that Jarrell had to give up her parental rights in the process.

Under the adoption plan approved by the lower court, Boseman became an adoptive parent while Jarrell retained full parental rights as well.

However, Associate Justice Paul Newby wrote for the majority that the adoption never occurred in the eyes of the law because lawmakers have made clear the biological parent must terminate a legal relationship with the child. That part of the ruling favored Jarrell, who had sued to negate the adoption after the couple separated.

She and Boseman, North Carolina's first openly gay member of the General Assembly, had been living together when Jarrell gave birth to Jacob in 2002.

The majority of justices let stand another lower court ruling allowing the two to have joint custody of the child, saying it would be in Jacob's best interest for the women, who have been sharing parental responsibilities, to rear him.

Still, the ruling eliminates a method for same-sex couples to adopt and could raise legal questions about so-called "second parent" adoptions like this one. They have been granted in Durham and Orange counties in recent years, according to testimony and court documents.

Those issues are best addressed at the General Assembly, Newby wrote. At least 27 states permit second-parent adoptions through state law or based on evidence in local courts, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a national group that works for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.

"The avenue is going to have to be changing the statute," Connell said in an interview. Otherwise, she said, this ruling closes down the method completely. Republicans taking charge of the Legislature next month are considering whether to vote on a constitutional amendment that would prohibit gay marriage.

Read the full article here.


December 22, 2010 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

New EU Divorce Rules

From AFP:

BRUSSELS — Take a German and a Frenchwoman who marry in Italy, move to Portugal and then split up: under new EU rules on cross-border marriage adopted Monday the couple will be able to choose where to divorce.

The rules, to be applied by 14 of the European Union's 27 member states in mid-2012, will enable an Austrian-Bulgarian couple living in Slovenia, for example, or a Hungarian couple resident in Brussels to choose which country's rules apply in case of separation.

Of the more than one million divorces in the European Union in 2007, around 140,000, or 13 percent, concerned couples of different nationalities, the European Commission said.

The new legislation will enable couples with different nationalities, those living apart in different countries, or those living together in a nation other than their home country, to decide which country's laws apply to their divorce.

Read more here.



December 22, 2010 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Capers: "Home Is Where the Crime Is"

I. Bennett Capers (Hofstra Univ. School of Law) has posted "Home is Where the Crime Is" (forthcoming Michigan Law Review) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

There is a new vision of home that is beginning to gain ascendance, at least from the point of view of legal actors and doctrine in the criminal justice system. Under this vision, home is not always, or even usually, “sweet.” Under this new vision, the home is not a safe haven, inviolate and inviolable except for, perhaps, a burglar. Under this new vision, the home is a place of violence. And not violence perpetrated by intruders, but by co-habitants. The home, notionally a site of security, a place “safe” from outside intervention, now functions as a place that enables abuse, assault, and rape. It is the exemplary place of coercion. The home, in this re-vision, has metastasized into the scene of the crime. In short, home has become “where the crime is.”

What are we to make of this shift in how the law perceives the home, and how we perceive the home? What are the collateral consequences of this shift? These are the questions Jeannie Suk takes up in her provocative At Home in the Law. This Review assesses Suk’s claims critically, turns to some of the collateral effects of this shift that Suk elides, and switches lens to reveal a larger, more troubling picture.


December 21, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

A Father, but Not the Father

The New York Times recently ran a piece on the potential devastation caused when DNA testing proves a father is not the father.  Read it here.


Hat Tip: ER

December 21, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fletcher & Sindelar: "The Effects of Family Stressors on Substance Abuse Initiation in Adolescence"

Jason Fletcher (Yale Univ. School of Public Health) & Jody Sindelar (Yale University School of Public Health; NBER) have posted "The Effects of Family Stressors on Substance Use Initiation in Adolescence" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Smoking and drinking are critical problems in adolescence that have long-term adverse impacts on health and socio-economic factors. We examine the extent to which family stresses influence the timing of initiation of smoking and drinking. Using national panel data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) we capitalize on the survey design and use school-level fixed effects that control for the local environments, including prices of cigarettes and alcohol. In addition, we narrow our control group to classmates who will experience a similar stressor in the future. We find that a composite measure of family stressors when young increases the likelihood of initiating tobacco and alcohol use, with much of the impact attributable to parental divorce. In our baseline estimates, the composite stress measure is associated with a 30% increase in the likelihood of smoking and a 20% increase in drinking. When we control for multiple sources of confounding, the impact shrinks and remains significant for smoking but not for drinking. We conclude that studies which do not control for confounding are likely to significantly overestimate the impact of family stress on substance use. Our approach helps to move the literature forward by separating causal results from spurious associations.


December 20, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Godsoe: "All in the Family: Towards a New Representational Model for Parents and Children"

Cynthia Godsoe (Brooklyn Law School) has recently posted All in the Family: Towards a New Representational Model for Parents and Children, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The presumption that parents act in their children’s interests governs both daily life and legal doctrine. This Article demonstrates that this presumption, while usually correct, is problematic when unquestioned because it masks any conflict between parents and children, and is at odds with the individualistic framework of the ethical rules governing attorneys. This harms families and puts attorneys at risk. This Article explores this representation problem in the previously largely ignored context of special education for children with disabilities. The Supreme Court, in Winkelman v. Parma City School District, recently established that parents and children each have substantive yet “intertwined” rights to a child’s appropriate education. Nonetheless, courts and attorneys continue to assume that parents speak for children, even in cases with a high risk of conflict. 

To best serve families and protect attorneys, this Article proposes a novel reconception of representation in education cases. Family representation posits the family as the client, with the attorney owing duties to each member individually and as part of the group. A family representation framework brings four real-world benefits: (1) it recognizes the interconnected nature of the relationships and rights of parents and children; (2) it engages both parties in the process, particularly important for children who have previously been overlooked; (3) it is economical, increasing the number of represented parties but not the number of attorneys; and (4) it brings attorney practice into accord with ethical standards. This model has ramifications beyond the educational sphere as it could also be fruitfully applied in torts and benefits actions by a parent and child against the state or other third party. Ultimately, reconceiving the attorney’s role as representing the family while respecting the voices of each member harmonizes the competing principles of individual autonomy and family unity to the benefit of parents, children and attorneys.



December 20, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rosenblum, et. al: "Pregnant Man?: A Conversation"

Darren Rosenblum (Pace Law School), et. al have posted "Pregnant Man?: A Conversation" (22 Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 207) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This Essay includes a first-person narrative of having a child through surrogacy, responses to that narrative by other law professors and the surrogate, and a concluding response and epilogue by the Author.


December 19, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)