Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Family Law Writing Competition

A reminder that Hofstra Law School and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts are sponsoring the annual Family Law Writing Competition.  Submissions by law students are due March 15, 2010.  Cash prizes.  Read the details here.


March 6, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 5, 2010

First Ovarian Transplant to Produce Two Babies

A woman has given birth to two children after her fertility was restored using transplants of ovarian tissue, the first time the complex treatment has produced two babies from separate pregnancies.

Claus Yding Andersen, the Danish doctor who treated the woman, said the case showed how this method of storing ovarian tissue was a valid way of preserving fertility and should encourage the technique to be used more in girls and young women facing treatment that may damage their ovaries.

"This is the first time in the world that a woman has had two children from separate pregnancies as a result of transplanting frozen and thawed ovarian tissue," said Andersen, who reported the case in the Human Reproduction medical journal.

Andersen's patient, Danish woman Stinne Holm Bergholdt, had ovarian tissue removed and frozen during treatment for cancer, and then restored once she was cured.

She gave birth to a girl in February 2007 after receiving fertility treatment. She then conceived naturally and gave birth to another girl in September 2008.

Nine children have been born worldwide as a result of transplanting frozen and thawed ovarian tissue.

Read the full story here.


March 5, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wedding Bell Blues

Some may say that wedding prices are a scam, but now an undeniable wedding scam has emerged. 

From the

Boston policy said today they feared thousands of people will descend on the Hynes Convention Center later this week for a bridal show--only to discover the "show" was an internet scam.

"What we found out is that there is no show,'' Detective Steve Blair said at police headquarters this afternoon. "It was a scam.''

According to police, someone set up a bogus website and created accounts on Twitter and Facebook, all to promote "The Boston 411 Bridal & Home Show 2010.'' The promotions claimed it would be held at the convention center March 5-7.

Blair said today an estimated 5,000 people paid at least $15 a person and that about 200 businesses also paid fees, ranging from $350 to $4,000. The payments were made through PayPal, police said.

Read the rest here.


March 5, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oldham: "Everything is Bigger in Texas Except the Community Property Estate - Must Texas Remain a Divorce Haven for the Rich? "

J. Thomas Oldham (University of Houston Law Center) has posted "Everything is Bigger in Texas Except the Community Property Estate - Must Texas Remain a Divorce Haven for the Rich? " on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This article compares significant community property rules applied in the eight traditional community property states. I show that, perhaps surprisingly, there is significant disagreement among the states regarding the approaches to apply in various common situations to determine the size of the community property estate. The starkest contrast is between Texas and California. In all the situations discussed, California has adopted the rule that expands the size of the community estate, while Texas applies the rule that leads to a smaller estate. The other community property states fall somewhere in the middle, sometimes following the rule applied in Texas and sometimes adopting the rule applied in California.

The difference between the approaches followed in Texas and those accepted in California can have substantial impact on the size of the community estate. So, although one can say that all eight states are “community property states,” there are substantial differences among the state laws.

In addition to highlighting the differences between Texas community property principles and those adopted in other states, the article also notes certain other aspects of Texas family law that make it more difficult for a Texas divorce court to provide adequate support for a spouse who otherwise will not have adequate resources after divorce. For all these reasons, I conclude that Texas is now a divorce haven for the rich.


March 4, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stay of DC Same-Sex Marriage Denied

Ruthann Robson of the Constitutional Law Prof blog notes that “the United States Supreme Court has deferred deciding on constitutional challenges to same-sex marriage in DC.”  She notes that, as Circuit Justice for the DC Circuit, Chief Justice Roberts refused to grant a stay of Washington, DC’s Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act, which allows same-sex marriage.  The case is Jackson v. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, 559 U. S. ____ (2010), and the opinion is available here.


March 4, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Catholic Charities Refuses Health Coverage to Spouses of New Employees

Timed to coincide with today's legalization of same sex marriage in Washington, D.C., the Catholic church is taking a hard line in an effort to remain "faithful to its teachings."

Employees at Catholic Charities were told Monday that the social services organization is changing its health coverage to avoid offering benefits to same-sex partners of its workers -- the latest fallout from a bitter debate between District officials trying to legalize same-sex marriage and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

"We looked at all the options and implications," said the charity's president, Edward J. Orzechowski. "This allows us to continue providing services, comply with the city's new requirements and remain faithful to the church's teaching."

Catholic Charities, which receives $22 million from the city for social service programs, protested in the run-up to the council's December vote to allow same-sex marriage, saying that it might not be able to continue its contracts with the city, including operating homeless shelters and facilitating city-sponsored adoptions. Being forced to recognize same-sex marriage, church officials said, could make it impossible for the church to be a city contractor because Catholic teaching opposes such unions.

Read more here.


March 3, 2010 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fournier: “Flirting with God in Western Secular Courts: Mahr in the West”

Pascale Fournier has posted Flirting with God in Western Secular Courts: Mahr in the West, 4 International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 67 (2010) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Through the journey of one symbolic legal institution - mahr (a form of dowry) - the article follows the ways in which Islamic marriage travels to Canada, the USA, France, and Germany, offering a panoply of conflicting images, contradictions, and distributive endowments in the transit from Islamic family law to Western adjudication. I insist on the importance that distributive consequences rather than recognition occupy central place in the assessment of the legal options available to Muslim women in Western courts. The article constitutes an important methodological contribution to the debates over the role of identity politics and the (im)possibility of legal transplants in comparative law. My argument is that mahr cannot travel to Western liberal courts without carrying a very complex interaction among several parties whose interests are often opposed as to its recognition. A legal realist and distributive analysis of Islamic marriage is crucial, I argue, because mahr is often used by the parties as a tool of relative bargaining power in the negotiation of contractual obligations related to the family. Moreover, Islamic law travels with a multiplicity of voices, and it is this complex hybridity that will be mediated through Western law upon adjudication.


March 3, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Black Community Crucial in D.C. Gay Marriage Debate

Gay and lesbian couples will soon be able to marry in Washington, but the debate over same-sex marriage has sounded different here, with references to interracial marriage and Martin Luther King.

Over the past year, both sides have courted the support of Washington's black community, a majority of the city's 600,000 residents and one traditionally perceived as opposed to same-sex marriage.

"In D.C., outreach to African-Americans wasn't part of the campaign. It was the campaign," said Michael Crawford, the leader of a pro-same-sex union group, D.C. For Marriage.

Crawford, who is black, said other residents weren't ignored, but his group and others weighed the city's racial makeup in planning their message. That made the debate here different than in other places that have considered gay marriage — places like California, where about 7 percent of residents are black, or Maine, where 1 percent are. Voters in both states struck down gay marriage laws.

To speak to voters in D.C., supporters drew parallels to Martin Luther King Jr.'s advocacy for equal rights. They said same-sex marriage bans would one day seem as ridiculous as the interracial marriage bans overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967. Opponents, meanwhile, ran an anti-gay marriage ad on the radio station of Howard University, a historically black college. And both sides worked hard to curry favor with black leaders and churches.

Getting black voters' support for gay marriage wasn't necessarily easy. A widely used exit poll conducted for The Associated Press during the 2008 election found 70 percent of black California voters approved of a measure banning gay marriage, compared with 49 percent of white voters. A poll in Florida, where residents voted on a similar issue that year, had comparable support from black voters, who make up about 16 percent of the state's population.

Black supporters of gay marriage in Washington disputed those numbers and argued that black voters were unfairly blamed for pushing the California measure to success. Opponents have argued the numbers were true and relevant, suggesting that D.C. voters would certainly reject gay marriage if given the opportunity.

But lawmakers, not voters, legalized gay marriage in Washington, and the measure always had the support of black D.C. Council members. Five black members on the 13-member council ultimately supported it, though the only "no" votes came from two black members in heavily black districts.

Read the full Associated Press story here.


March 2, 2010 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anticipatory Neglect in IL

An Illinois appellate court recently upheld the application of “anticipatory neglect” in regard to the Respondent mother.  Accordingly, because Respondent’s previous 7 children were determined to be neglected between 1997 and 2006, with her parental rights being terminated in regards to 6 of them, the trial court’s findings of neglect and unfitness in regard to a current infant were not against the manifest weight of the evidence.  The case is In re J.C., Jr., No. 3-08-0934 (Ill. App. Ct., 3d Dist. Dec. 29, 2009).  Read the opinion here.


March 2, 2010 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Green: "Currency of Love: Customary International Law and the Battle for Same –Sex Marriage in the United States"

Sonia Bychkov Green (The John Marshall Law School) has posted "Currency of Love: Customary International Law and the Battle for Same –Sex Marriage in the United States" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The battle for same-sex marriage is likely to be the civil rights issue of this decade. Developments all over the world over the last several years have caused celebration, public outcry and passionate debate. In the last year alone, the first Latin American same-sex wedding was performed, Sweden joined the nations who allow same-sex marriage, and the United States saw the “Proposition 8” debacle in California, and the new federal lawsuits that will inevitably propel the issues toward the Supreme Court. The legal debate in the United States has asked the crucial question: is there a legal right to marriage for each person, regardless of sexual orientation? This article examines the debate through the prism of international law and argues that there is.

Scholars and courts have analyzed the constitutional, legal and moral implications of this debate. This article adds a new argument to the debate: same-sex marriage should be allowed in the United States because it is protected by customary international law, and U.S. courts do, and should, consider international custom in their jurisprudence.

Part One of the article details the myriad of areas in which “marriage” is a legally significant designation. Part Two describes the legislation, judicial opinions and contours of the debate in the United States to date. Part Thee presents arguments for how same-sex marriage is protected by customary international law: it is protected through codifications of custom, it is a trend in at least parts of the world, and most importantly, the justifications of the nations who allow same-sex marriage evidence a sense of legal obligation to allow it. Part Four examines how the United States courts have used customary international law in a variety of cases, and explains how courts could incorporate those norms to find that same-sex marriage should be legalized. The article concludes with two essential appendices that illustrate the current status of same-sex marriage: a state-by-state current summary of the issue in the United States and a large selected nation-by-nation compilation.


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

Special Wedding Guest: A Phlebotomist

A scientist who recently married had her blood, and several guests’ blood, tested at the wedding for levels of the hormone oxytocin, dubbed the “cuddle chemical” for its role in promoting bonding, trust, and generosity.

In NewScientist, she writes:

I had written several articles about this hormone before, so my wedding last July seemed the perfect chance to see if it would surge in the ultimate public display of affection. I contacted leading oxytocin researcher Paul Zak, head of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies in Claremont, California, and he leapt at the opportunity to translate his lab studies into real life.

The plan was to measure blood levels of oxytocin in the bride, groom, three close members of our families and eight friends both before and after the ceremony. OK, it was a small sample size, but Zak (pictured above) saw this as a pilot study that might point the way for future research, and perhaps even shed some light on why people stage public weddings in the first place.

Now, that’s real love…for science as well.  Read more here, but note that the video is not for the faint-hearted.


Hat Tip: S.H.

March 1, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Teaching Lessons from Teach for America

The Atlantic has a great article about Teach for America (TFA), which aims to end educational inequity by recruiting recent college graduates to teach in low-income schools for 2 years. 

According to the Atlantic article:

Until now, Teach for American has kept its investigation [of teaching] largely to itself. But for this story, the organization allowed me access to 20 years of experimentation, studded by trial and error. The results are specific and surprising. Things that you might think would help a new teacher achieve success in a poor school—like prior experience working in a low-income neighborhood—don’t seem to matter. Other things that may sound trifling—like a teacher’s extracurricular accomplishments in college—tend to predict greatness.

Read the rest here.

TFA and its member Steven Farr have also recently published a book themselves on this topic: Teaching As Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher's Guide to Closing the Achievement Gap, available on Amazon here.


February 28, 2010 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)