Thursday, March 31, 2011
Fiona Kelly (University of British Columbia Faculty of Law) has posted "Transforming Law's Family: The Legal Recognition of Planned Lesbian Families" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Lesbian families with children are greater in number and more visible today than ever before. In fact, social scientists have suggested that we may be in the midst of a lesbian "baby boom". Canada's Census figures support this assertion. Between 2001 and 2006 there was a forty-seven per cent increase in households made up of two lesbian mothers and their children. This dissertation addresses the legal issues raised by lesbian motherhood, focusing primarily on legal parentage. It considers the terms upon which parental recognition has been achieved thus far, and evaluates the efficacy of a reform agenda focused exclusively on gaining access to the existing legal framework. To explore the legal and social dynamics of planned lesbian families, interviews were conducted with forty-nine lesbian mothers living in British Columbia and Alberta who conceived using assisted reproduction. Mothers were asked about the structure of their families, how they defined terms such as "parent" and "family", the extent to which they had engaged with law, and their recommendations for law reform. The interviews revealed that lesbian mothers define family and parenthood broadly, emphasizing intention and caregiving over a purely biological model of kinship. All of the mothers defined a "parent" as someone who intends to parent and, once a child is born, performs that intention through caregiving. Parental status was thus not limited to those who shared a biological relationship with a child, or even to two individuals. The research suggests that lesbian mothers have little interest in being subsumed into the existing legal framework which tends to prioritize dyadic and biological parenting. In fact, only a tiny portion of the mothers felt that identical treatment would adequately respond to their needs. The vast majority supported law reform that would extend to them the benefits of the current system, while simultaneously expanding the existing framework to include a wider variety of parental and family configurations within it. The reform model chosen to achieve this aim combined parental presumptions in favour of the lesbian couple or a single lesbian mother, with opt-in mechanisms that allowed the family to extend beyond the two parent unit.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Jennifer Hendricks (Univ. of Tenn. College of Law), Beth Burkstrand-Reid (Univ. of Nebraska College of Law) & June Carbone (UMKC School of Law) have posted "Teaching Controversial Topics" (49 Fam. Ct. Rev. (2011)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This essay, based on a presentation at the 2009 Future of Family Law Education conference at the William Mitchell School of Law, discusses strategies for teaching controversial topics, focused on reproductive rights and related gender issues.
From BBC News Scotland:
Divorces in Scotland have fallen to their lowest rate for 30 years, according to new data published by the registrar general.
The figures showed there were 9,893 divorces in 2009. The last time the figure was that low was in 1980 when 9,068 divorces were recorded.
The latest figures also showed that more people got married last year.
Weddings rose by 956 in 2010, although at 28,480, the figures remain low compared with previous decades.
Registrar General Duncan Macniven said the drop in divorces was partly due to a recent change in the law.
"This [decrease] is not unexpected - the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, which came into effect on 4 May 2006, reduced separation periods for divorce, so there was an increase of over 2,000 divorces in 2006, followed by decreases in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The report also showed that just over half of all children in Scotland were born to unmarried parents, although the figure dropped from 50.3% in 2009 to 50.2% last year.
Read more here.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Bettinger-Lopez: "Gender Justice and Human Rights: Revisiting the Links between Domestic Violence and Reproductive Rights Advocacy"
Caroline Bettinger-Lopez (Univ. of Miami School of Law) has posted "Gender Justice and Human Rights: Revisiting the Links between Domestic Violence and Reproductive Rights Advocacy" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Domestic violence and reproductive rights are often viewed as separate spheres of women's rights advocacy in the United States. Indeed, our non-profit/non-governmental organizations focusing on these issues are rarely in dialogue with one another about the commonalities that the issues and the advocacy share. (A most extreme version of this dichotomy is the ACLU, whose Women's Rights Project (which focuses, in large part, on violence against women and domestic violence) and Reproductive Freedom Project (which focuses on reproductive rights) operate completely separately). Yet the links between domestic violence and reproductive justice – links that are underscored when one brings a human rights lens to the inquiry – run deep. Women facing domestic violence and a denial of their reproductive freedom often share a common ground: the expropriation of their sexuality by a patriarchal system that dominates the family and the law. These links implicate a variety of other areas of human rights, including economic and social rights as well as civil and political rights. Moreover, the legal and political frameworks with which we analyze these social problems often fall far short of capturing their nuance and multi-dimensionality. For instance, the discourse in progressive circles focuses on government regulation of women's bodies (negative rights, e.g. right to privacy, liberty) when we discuss reproductive rights; whereas the parallel discourse focuses on lack of government protection (affirmative obligations, e.g. duty to protect) when we discuss violence against women. This dichotomy does not always hold up in practice, however. Domestic violence rates are highest against pregnant women and that pregnancy often marks the onset of domestic violence. Moreover, an abused pregnant woman may have problems accessing reproductive health services as a result of her isolation from society – a problem rooted in the State's failure to provide meaningful protection to her from abuse. Likewise, a woman experiencing domestic violence or sexual abuse may shape her reproductive choices around her wish not to have a child with an abusive partner. Other areas in which the traditional spheres of reproductive rights and domestic/sexual violence advocacy (and their kin) break down include: shackling of women while giving birth in prisons; judicial rulings ordering abused women to make certain reproductive/childcare decisions (as in a recent New York Supreme Court case ordering a mother to be sterilized in order to regain custody of her children); law enforcement's role in responding to domestic violence versus abortion clinics.
In this article, I seek to use a human rights and feminist framework to explore the interstices of this debate and unpack the often-false dichotomy that has been set up to distinguish the areas of domestic violence and reproductive rights in advocacy and academic circles in recent years. I also hope to further analyze what a human rights framework brings to the inquiry and how it might be useful in re-establishing the commonalities between these all-too-frequently separate spheres.
This scholarly inquiry comes at a particularly opportune time: in February 2011, I will be co-hosting a convening at University of Miami Law School on Gender Justice in the Americas: A Transnational Dialogue on Sexuality, Violence, Reproduction & Human Rights. As the title suggests, the focus of the convening is multifold. We view this convening as an opportunity to promote a transnational dialogue among a key group of advocates and scholars working on gender and sexuality issues throughout North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean. In an intimate setting, we will discuss recent law and policy developments at the local, national, and international levels in the areas of women's rights, gender and sexuality. We hope to develop a robust dialogue exploring the significance of these developments, as well as the legal and advocacy strategies employed by the women's and human rights movements in the region to deepen their effect. By examining these inter-related areas, we seek to take a collective step back and examine the opportunities that a human rights approach may offer to make connections between the fields of reproduction, violence, and sexuality – connections which are all-too-often forgotten in our increasingly specialized world. It is our hope that the convening will serve as a catalyst for a revitalization of the women's rights movement and will foster the development of a new network of advocates and scholars across the Americas engaged in using the international human rights framework as a tool for advancing gender and sexuality advocacy and scholarship in the region.
From the Huffington Post:
Author Rahna Reiko Rizzuto stopped by The View Friday morning to talk about her controversial memoir Hiroshima in the Morning, which details her decision to end her 20-year-marriage and leave her two young sons behind.
"I never really wanted to be a mother," Rizutto admitted. "I had this idea about motherhood that it was just going to take me over and swallow me up."
At the age of 37, Rizzuto was given the opportunity to spend six months in Japan talking to atomic bomb survivors for a book she was writing. What began as a research trip turned into a journey of immense self-discovery that ultimately caused her to end her 20-year marriage, and walk away from her family.
Reactions to her story have been anything but mundane; some critics have even sent her death threats.
See a related video and read more here.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Gupta-Kagan: "Filling the Due Process Donut Hole: Abuse and Neglect Cases between Disposition and Permanency"
Josh Gupta-Kagan has posted "Filling the Due Process Donut Hole: Abuse and Neglect Cases between Disposition and Permanency" (10 Conn. Pub. Int. L. J. 1 (2011)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
A state child protection agency removes a child from his mother and convinces a family court judge to rule that the child’s mother neglected him and to place the child in foster care. The judge orders the agency to work with the mother to remedy the conditions that led her to neglect him with the plan of reunifying the child with her. One year later the family returns to court. The social worker files a report asserting that the mother has not cooperated with the agency’s efforts to help her and remains incapable of taking care of the child. The mother says that she now can take care of her child, but the social worker has never liked her and has not given her a fair chance, nor has the worker given her credit for the progress she has made. She says she tried to work with the social worker, but the worker only referred her to other agencies that did not provide useful help.
How does the family court decide what happens next? A series of factual disputes exist that are distinct from the ruling that the court has already issued regarding the mother’s past neglectful conduct. These factual disputes are tied to legal questions - what will the child's "permanency plan" be, that is, will the judge order the agency to continue efforts to reunify the child with his mother or will the judge order the agency to work to have the child adopted by another family. This case is thus ripe for time tested adversarial adjudication through an evidentiary hearing. Yet in most states do not require permanency hearings to be based on evidence, and appeals of permanency hearing decisions are not permitted or do not occur. Federal law - which shapes much state law practice - provides vague and insufficient guidance to courts which must make decisions in thousands of cases like this.
This article argues that this due process donut hole -- the absence of procedural safeguards at child abuse and neglect permanency hearings, the hearings held regularly between an initial abuse or neglect adjudication and disposition and a later termination of parental rights or other permanency trial - must be filled. Constitutionally, the rights at stake - those of parents and children to maintain family integrity - are fundamental, the risk of error from sloppy procedures great, and the state interest in avoiding stricter procedures small. From a policy perspective, ensuring better permanency hearing decision-making will help avoid children drifting through foster care for years. Providing a right to appeal permanency hearing decisions will both improve trial court decision-making and help clarify difficult questions of law that will not be resolved through other appeals. Alternative methods of providing due process checks - especially early termination of parental rights trials - would create significant other problems, including the unnecessary termination of parental rights for tens of thousands of children. State courts and state and federal policy makers should work to ensure permanency hearing decisions are made via evidentiary hearings and that parties may appeal adverse rulings.
An interesting idea was outlined recently in the Atlantic on education:
Imagine a new type of financial institution, an "Education Bank," that is half-charity organization and half-bank. Like a charity, it would accept tax deductible donations. Like a bank, it would leverage those donations into circulation in the form of a new digital currency called Education Dollars. Schools could use these Education Dollars like coupons or credit card points that could be "redeemed" at participating stores.
Read more here.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
From the Telegraph:
In 2004, American families adopted almost 23,000 children from around the world, but by 2010 that figure had more than halved to 11,058, according to US State Department figures.
"We have stopped organising adoptions for overseas clients because it was just too hard to find good families," said Leah Kigutha, director of Maji Mzuri Children's Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.
A surge in enquiries up to 2010 "attributed to publicity surrounding Madonna's case" had stalled as increased legislation governing adoptions was discussed by the US authorities, Ms Kigutha said.
The Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption entered into force in the US in early 2008, at the same time as Madonna's case to adopt David Banda, a Malawian toddler, was bogged down in a Lilongwe court.
Read more here.
Friday, March 25, 2011
In The Atlantic, some interesting insights from a recent study:
One of our longevity myths is "Get married, and you will live longer." The data tell a different story.
Marriage was health-promoting primarily for men who were well-suited to marriage and had a good marriage. For the rest, there were all kinds of complications.
For example, women who got divorced often thrived. Even women who were widowed often did exceptionally well. It often seemed as if women who got rid of their troublesome husbands stayed healthy—most women, it seemed, can rely on their friends and other social ties. Men who got and stayed divorced, on the other hand, were at really high risk for premature mortality. It would have been better had they not married at all.
Read more here.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
RIYADH, March 9 (Reuters) - A senior Saudi prince questioned the need for a ban on women driving on Wednesday and said lifting it would be a quick first step to reduce the Islamic kingdom's dependence on millions of foreign workers.
The Gulf Arab state is a monarchy ruled by the al-Saud family in alliance with clerics from the strict Wahhabi school of Islam. Women must be covered from head to toe in public and are not allowed to drive.
But the ruling family has been facing calls from activists and liberals, empowered by protests across North Africa and the Middle East, to allow some political reforms in the absolute monarchy that has no parliament.
Using social media, activists have called on King Abdullah to allow women to participate for the first time in municipal elections expected later this year.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah and advocate of his reforms, said the kingdom could send some 750,000 foreign drivers home if women could drive.
Read more here.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Shelly Kreiczer-Levy has posted "The Riddle of Inheritance: Connecting Continuity and Property" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Popular intuitions, scholarly works and legal doctrines reveal an embedded tension in property legal theory between testamentary freedom and family protection. The article works through this tension and offers a novel theory of property allocation after death. It introduces the value of continuity to property legal scholarship. This value is drawn from various disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, and anthropology. Continuity embodies a double perspective, combining two interests: the desire to be continued in the world, and the need for roots, to belong to a person or a group. Similarly, the law of inheritance today cannot be correctly characterized solely by reference to testamentary freedom, which addresses only the interest to be continued in the world. There is not just one central focal point, the owner of property, I contend, but actually two focal points, which correspond with the two dimensions of continuity. These two focal points are not independent interests that should be correctly balanced one against the other. Rather, the interests of the owner and her receivers are intertwined, co-dependent, and guided by the same rationale. This argument is supported by a legal analysis of American inheritance law.
From Yahoo! News:
LONDON (Reuters) – The "three-year glitch" has replaced the "seven-year itch" as the tipping point where couples start to take each other for granted, according to a new survey.
Weight gain, stinginess, toe-nail clippings on the bathroom floor and snoring are a few of the passion-killers that have led to a swifter decline in relationships in the fast-paced 21st century, said the study commissioned by Warner Brothers to promote the release of comedy film "Hall Pass" in UK cinemas.
The survey of 2,000 British adults in steady relationships pinpointed the 36-month mark as the time when relationship stress levels peak and points to a new trend of "pink passes" and "solo" holidays away from partners and spouses that many Britons resort to in order to keep romance alive.
Read more here.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Austin Caster has posted "Why Same-Sex Marriage Will Not Repeat the Errors of No-Fault Divorce" (38 West. S. L. Rev. 43 (2010)). Here is the abstract:
Because so many negative ramifications resulted from changing marriage laws through no-fault divorce legislation, it is understandable that those who rightfully feared no-fault divorce would also fear any additional changes to the definition of marriage. Those fears are unfounded as applied to same-sex marriage legislation, however, because the same consequences resulting from no-fault divorce do not apply to same-sex marriage. Whereas changing marriage exit rights through laws such as no-fault divorce legislation resulted in an increased divorced rate throughout the world, the opposite has happened in countries that have allowed same-sex marriage laws by changing marriage entrance rights. Society has suffered many negative health consequences as a result of no-fault divorce, but those, too, would not result from same-sex marriage. Additionally, the negative economic consequences brought on by no-fault divorce would also not result from same-sex marriage, but rather it would bring more economic stability. Children would not be negatively affected by same-sex marriage the way they were affected by no-fault divorce because same-sex marriage would bring families together rather than tear them apart. Finally, the same public policy reasons that make opposite-sex marriage favorable to society also apply to same-sex marriage. Therefore, it is unreasonable to fear same-sex marriage legislation based on the resulting harms of no-fault divorce legislation.
Naomi Cahn (GWU School of Law) has posted "Old Lessons for a New World: Applying Adoption Research and Experience to Art" (24 J. Am. Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (2011)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This article suggests that knowledge derived from adoption-related research and experience can be used to improve law, policy and practice in the world of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), particularly with respect to sperm, egg and embryo "donations." While there are numerous and significant differences between adoption and ART, the article identifies several areas in which adoption's lessons could be useful. These include secrecy and the withholding of information; a focus on the best interests of children; the creation of "nontraditional" families, particularly as more single, gay and lesbian adults use ART; the impact of market forces; and legal and regulatory frameworks to inform standards and procedures.
Only 16 days away, The Foundation for Male Studies is holding their 2nd Conference on Male Studies: Looking Forward to Solutions, to be unveiled to participants at the New York Academy of Medicine as well as a growing conglomerate of Internet-connected participants from 16 universities - organizations and individuals, professionals and students - from countries including Germany, Australia, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Italy, India and the U.S.
The male's shortfall in education and its impact on male employment prospects
The Future of Fatherhood
Gordon E. Finley, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Florida International University.
The Current Muddled State of Gender Affairs and the Future
Michael Gilbert, Senior Fellow at the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future / University of Southern California, and author of The Disposable Male
Why Men Die First
Dr. Marianne Legato
From Primeval to Postmodern Man: A Revolutionary Theory
Paul Nathanson, PhD, Senior Researcher
Katherine Young, PhD, James McGill Professor of the McGill Faculty of Religious Studies;
Co-authors of a four volume series on misandry, the hatred of men.
Advertising: Past and Current Depictions of Males and their Consequences
Matthew Willcox and Matthew Palmer, Draftfcb.
Mr. Willcox is a Director of Strategic Planning at the agency and was instrumental in helping Levi
Strauss and Company brand Dockers, develop the "Wear the Pants" campaign that dealt with male roles and image. Mr. Palmer is the lead strategist on the Miller Lite brand and a member of the team responsible for producing its "Man Up" ad campaign.
Register for the conference here.
Monday, March 21, 2011
The Economist recently ran an article singing the virtues of abstinence:
Their report, just published in the Journal of Family Psychology, suggests that people who delay having sex do indeed have better relationships, on four different measures (see table). That result applies to both men and women.
Read more here.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
For as long as taxpayers have been able to claim deductions or credits for their children, separated parents have argued over which of them is entitled to those benefits. In 1967, Congress enacted legislation to resolve these disputes. That legislation did not accomplish its objectives, so Congress revised those rules in 1984. With a minor tweak those rules remain in place today.
Under the current statute, the parent having custody for the greater portion of the year is generally entitled to the tax benefits. However, that “Custodial Parent” can transfer some of those benefits to the “Noncustodial Parent” by signing a written declaration, in such manner and form as the Treasury Department prescribes, stating that he will not claim the benefits.
For twenty-five years, the Treasury Department allowed an unconditional divorce decree or separation agreement to serve as the written declaration necessary for transferring tax benefits. Abruptly, however, in 2008, the Treasury Department issued new Regulations under which divorce decrees and separation agreements are no longer acceptable. Now, the Noncustodial Parent must obtain a signed Internal Revenue Service Form from the Custodial Parent in order to qualify for the tax benefits – even in cases where the decree or agreement – binding under State law – provides that the Noncustodial Parent is entitled to the benefits.
This Article will explain why there was no reasonable justification for changing the Regulations, and why the Regulations will create unexpected, unnecessary, unreasonable, and difficult-to-surmount problems for Noncustodial Parents. The new Regulations are plain bad and should be repealed.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
These cases have made news in Illinois recently. Now, no longer is it expensive only to divorce, but to break an engagement.
In a complaint filed last week, Serafin is not only suing Leighton under an Illinois law that allows claims for breach of a promise to marry but limits a plaintiff's recovery to wedding expenses. She is also going after him for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), which entitles her to compensatory and punitive damages.
The lawsuit is the second of its kind to be filed in Chicago in the past three months. Dominique B...— yet another lawyer — sued her ex-fiancé Dec. 10, alleging he broke his promise to marry her and acted outrageously by, among other things, “receiving lap dances and other physical contact” from strippers at his bachelor party.
Read more here.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Carbone: "Neuroscience and Ideology: Why Science Can Never Supply a Complete Answer for Adolescent Immaturity"
June Carbone (UMKC School of Law) has posted "Neuroscience and Ideology: Why Science Can Never Supply a Complete Answer for Adolescent Immaturity" (LAW & NEUROSCIENCE, CURRENT LEGAL ISSUES, Chapter 13, Michael Freeman ed., Oxford University Press, 2010). Here is the abstract:
This paper argues that to resolve the issues about the role of neuroscience, we need to question the framework in which it arises. The increasing complexity of scientific determinations raises issues of institutional capacity. Recognizing innovations in the science of adolescent development may change not so much our view of adolescence as the calculus underlying institutional functions.
Consider the issue of the juvenile death penalty or a life sentence for a crime committed by a fifteen-year-old. The fact that adolescent reasoning has not yet matured may or may not make the sentence cruel. But the ability to determine whether a particular fifteen-year old is capable of reasoned deliberation may be a more difficult task than judging whether fifteen-year-olds as a group have such capacity. Abolishing the juvenile death penalty may be the right answer not so much because adolescent decision-making is necessarily flawed, but because deciding whether it is in individual cases is impossible. At the same time, such a decision should not be resolved, in any absolute sense, on the basis of neuroscience findings. Instead, they can be at best a strand in a complex decision that situates the idea of justice, rather than cognitive capacity, in an appropriate societal framework.
To consider the appropriate construction of such frameworks, this paper describes the promise and limitations of neuroscientific advances, comparing legal decision-making capacity in individual cases versus broader matters of constitutional doctrine or public policy, analyzing recent US Supreme Court decisions on the juvenile death penalty, and assessing the role of neuroscience in the different possible outcomes of that case. The paper concludes that Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion gave the appropriate weight to the sense; it is an element supporting, but not dictating, a conclusion the court reached on broader grounds.