Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Academia & Marriage Go Together Like a Horse & Carriage

  2001                                                Married                Single 

American public                              57%                        43%

All faculty members                        76%                        24% (A)

American men                                 59%                       41%

Male faculty members                     82%                        18% (B)

American women                             55%                        45%

Female faculty members                  66%                        34% (C) 

(A) Unmarried living with partner(*): 5% (within Single category) 

(B) Unmarried living with partner 4% 

(C) Unmarried living with partner 7% 


See the Faculty Lounge blog post here.

These marriage numbers for academics, however, will likely go through the roof if a dating service is implemented at law conferences…  Read more about this (facetious) suggestion at the TaxProf Blog, accessible here.  


February 20, 2010 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 19, 2010

5th Circuit Rules in Unmarried Parent Adoption Case

In a landmark decision published yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that Louisiana is required to list two fathers on the birth certificate of their adopted child.  The two men adopted the Louisiana-born child in New York.  Louisiana law does not allow adoption by unmarried parents.  When the child's parents sought a birth certificate from Louisiana recognizing them as the legal parents, the registrar refused, arguing a number of exceptions that permitted Louisiana to refuse to recognize the adoption judgment of the New York court. 

The USCA for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision that full faith and credit requires Louisiana to give the New York judgment effect and to issue the birth certificate recognizing the child's parentage.

"Even our opponents have said this is landmark case and we're pleased the court agrees that it's wrong to punish children just because the registrar doesn't like their parents," said Kenneth Upton, the attorney for Lambda Legal who represented the couple, Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith of San Diego.

Upton said he called Adar with news of the ruling and was told, "Can you imagine the coincidence? Right now I'm enrolling the child in school and they just asked me for a birth certificate."

"You talk about great timing," Upton said. "They were just delighted."

Read the decision here and more news coverage of it here.


February 19, 2010 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Don't Bring Around a Cloud to Rain on My Parade, I Can Do It Myself…

We have previously blogged here about the concerns regarding the appropriateness of having a 7-year-old samba carnival queen fulfill a traditionally sexy role in Brazil.  Well, a family court chose not to intervene and she did indeed perform, but only after a good cry.  Read the details here.


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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Marrying Young as the #1 Predictor of Divorce?

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece on "early marriage," which some interesting statistics about divorce rates:

First, let's take a closer look at that term "early marriage." While it's true that teenage marriages are a significant predictor of divorce, it turns out that marriages of people in their early to mid-20s are not nearly as much at risk. According to a 2002 report from the Centers for Disease Control, 48% of people who enter marriage when under age 18, and 40% of 18- and 19-year-olds, will eventually divorce. But only 29% of those who get married at age 20 to 24 will eventually divorce—very similar to the 24% of the 25-and-older cohort. In fact, Hispanics who marry between the ages of 20 and 24 actually have a greater likelihood of marital success (31% chance of divorce) than those who first marry at age 25 and older (36% chance of divorce).

Further, a recent study by family scholars at the University of Texas finds that people who wed between the ages of 22 and 25, and remained married to those spouses, went on to experience the happiest marriages. While the authors caution against suggesting that 22 to 25 is the optimal marrying age for everyone, their finding does suggest that "little or nothing is likely to be gained by deliberately delaying marriage beyond the mid twenties."

Read the full story here.


February 18, 2010 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

IL Hearsay Rule Tested by Drew Peterson


Drew Peterson, the former Bolingbrook, Ill., cop now accused of killing his third wife and a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, will have an opportunity to respond this week to the hearsay evidence presented against him in a pretrial hearing.

During 15 days that stretched from January into February, friends and relatives of the late Kathleen Savio, who was found dead in her bathtub in 2004, and Stacy Peterson, who disappeared last year, have testified in state court in Joliet, Ill., that the women said their husband on several occasions threatened to kill them, according to local news reports. Drew Peterson has pleaded not guilty.

Such hearsay evidence is often inadmissible, although there are exceptions to that standard in federal and common law and in a number of states. In response to the Peterson case, Illinois passed a law last year allowing hearsay statements from a person who is shown at a pretrial hearing by a preponderance of evidence to have been murdered by the defendant. To date, the new law hasn't been extensively tested, so there's little precedent for knowing how Judge Stephen White will rule.

Read the rest here.



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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Garoupa, Jorgensen & Vazquez: "Assessing the Argument for Specialized Courts: Evidence from Family Courts in Spain"

Nuno Garoupa (University of Illinois College of Law), Natalia Jorgensen (Foundation for Applied Economic Research) & Pablo Vazquez (Foundation for Applied Economic Research) have posted "Assessing the Argument for Specialized Courts: Evidence from Family Courts in Spain" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Specialized courts have become a key component of the legal reform packages implemented in civil law countries, particularly, in the area of family law. One argument for this policy is that they are able to reach a decision faster than the regular courts, which are normally congested. We use data from a survey of Spanish family courts in the region of Madrid to test this claim. After controlling for other relevant variables, the econometric results did not provide strong support for specialized courts.


February 17, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Super Bowl Commercial for Next Year

We’ve blogged here about the super bowl Dodge commercial that had a skeptical view of marriage from the husbands’ perspective.  Well, now there’s a spoof from the wives’ perspective: view it here.



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

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ratner: "But from Where Will the Money Come? Community Property Liability for Child Support and Other Premarital Obligations"

James Ratner (University of Arizona) has posted "But from Where Will the Money Come? Community Property Liability for Child Support and Other Premarital Obligations" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Marital debt is normal, but confusing. In some community property jurisdictions, debts incurred by one spouse can be satisfied from all of the assets managed and controlled by the debt incurring spouse (a managerial regime), while in others from the debt-incurring spouse's separate property plus that spouse's "share" of the marital assets (a partition regime), and in still others from only the separate assets of the debt-incurring spouse for separate debts and from all the community assets if it is a community debt (a CP debt/SP debt classification regime). The various community property jurisdictions have fined-tuned these structures to create hybrid systems that combine aspects of each of the regimes. Frequently debt originates prior to a marriage (hence the description "premarital debt"), however, creating an additional problem: During a marriage, which assets should be available for premarital creditors? A pure managerial regime fails to adequately protect the nondebtor spouse's undivided one-half ownership interest in each community asset, while a pure CP debt/SP debt system effectively enables a debtor to commit "bankruptcy by marriage." Partition systems developed to address these problems offer premarital creditors access to those assets for which the creditor would have had access if there had been no marriage. This partition-style premarital debt structure, however, is employed for child support and spousal support orders as well as for more typical debt and tort liability incurred prior to the marriage.

Application of such premarital debt structures to child support is unfortunate. It implicitly may facilitate child support shirkers, effectuates a hierarchy for a choice between support of children of relationship #1 and children of relationship #2, and perpetrates an old stereotype - the wicked, unsupportive step-parent. Child support is more sensibly treated as an on-going obligation of a support-owing parent's current marital community, and not as a premarital debt. Thus I propose that all community assets, including the earnings of the spouse who is not obligated to pay child support, be available to satisfy a child support order. Under the current regime, those earnings are unavailable, because they are not assets that would be the debt-incurring spouse's separate property except for the marriage. While a usual argument against my proposed approach is a fear of discouraging marriages, such a fear is unwarranted in this context. The specific nature of child support obligations, which cannot be bargained-around and which are limited in duration by the age of the child, drives my conclusion that it is not a premarital SP debt. Spousal support obligations, in contrast, more closely resemble typical premarital debt, and should continue to be treated as premarital obligations to which a premarital debt partition structure sensibly applies.


February 16, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sweetie, Can You Change Na’vi Tsu’tey’s Diaper?

Apparently, you might overhear this more often as people name their children after the characters in film blockbuster Avatar.  Read more here.


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

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Effectiveness of Abstinence Education

The debate rages on about the effectiveness of abstinence-only education in delaying the start of sexual activity in adolescents.  In December, a new study (using federal data) suggested that abstinence education may actually have a negative effect.  From the Washington Post:

Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a "virginity pledge," but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.

"Taking a pledge doesn't seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior," said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. "But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking."

The study is the latest in a series that have raised questions about programs that focus on encouraging abstinence until marriage, including those that specifically ask students to publicly declare their intention to remain virgins. The new analysis, however, goes beyond earlier analyses by focusing on teens who had similar values about sex and other issues before they took a virginity pledge.

Read the Washington Post story here or the study itself in the Journal of Pediatrics here.

A study published this month in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, however, suggests that some abstinence-only education may be effective at curbing the onset of sexual activity in inner city youth.

Read more about this study here.


February 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The winter weather in DC has created plenty of family fun time:

From the Wall Street Journal:  

WASHINGTON—The most powerful people in Washington, D.C., this week were demanding another juice box and a Sesame Street video.

The one-two snow punch that crippled the nation's capital did more than bring the federal government to a halt: It brought hundreds of hard-charging, workaholic parents to their knees, imprisoning them inside their homes with eager children and a dwindling list of activities to keep them entertained.

Across the Washington, D.C. area, parents were grasping for ways to fill the days as two powerful snowstorms cancelled schools, closed day-care centers and shuttered many businesses. On Thursday—day seven for some parents with a three-day weekend ahead and more snow in the offing—nerves were beginning to fray.

"I am about ready to eat my children," said one mom...

Read the rest here.


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

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day...


...on what must be Family Law's favorite holiday.                                       


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