Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Pregnant Woman Enters a Bar...

From the Chicago Tribune:

Michelle Lee was catching up with friends at a nightspot near her parents' home when a bouncer pulled her aside.

"Can I ask you a personal question?" Lee recalled him asking. "Are you pregnant?"

She responded yes because, at eight months along, it would have been difficult to argue otherwise, she said later.

Lee, 29, said the bouncer who was staffing the Coach House bar near Roselle didn't care that she was only drinking water.

She said he asked her to leave shortly after midnight Thursday, telling her the bar would be liable if anything happened to her. She complied, but grew angrier over the weekend, questioning whether she had been discriminated against as a pregnant woman.

Lee is considering suing.  Read more here.


January 22, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Triplets Born Eleven Years Apart

From ABC News:

Ryleigh Shepherd was conceived in 1998, the same year as her 11-year-old twin sisters, but she wasn't born until 2010.

The three girls from Walsall, in Great Britain, who were born more than a decade apart in two different centuries, are actually fraternal triplets born through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Ryleigh came from the same batch of embryos that had allowed her parents -- Lisa and Adrian Shepherd -- to give birth to twins Megan and Bethany.

British experts say they know of no other case in their country in which three siblings from the same round of fertility treatment have been born with such an age gap.

The longest interval between freezing and conception was in the case of a woman from New York City whose embryo had been stored for 20 years, according to a report in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

"It seemed strange to think that we were using embryos that we had stored all those years ago, that were conceived at the same time as the girls," Lisa Shepherd, 37, told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.

"We knew that if we had another baby it would in effect be the girls' triplet as they were all conceived at the same time," she said. The girls look exactly alike, according to their mother. "It was uncanny."

How long embryos can be frozen and still viable is still not known, but American fertility experts say they have great confidence in the success of new reproductive techniques.

"It's incredibly common for people to go back and second and third time," said Barbara Collura, executive director of RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association. "There have been recorded cases of kids born far longer apart. This doesn't tip the scales."

Fertility experts estimate that about 400,000 embryos are currently in frozen storage in the U.S., and a more comprehensive survey will be underway in the spring.

Read the full article here.


January 21, 2011 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

IL Civil Unions & Planning

The Illinois Bar Journal recently had a piece about estate-planning and the other implications of civil unions there.  Read it here.


January 21, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mandelbaum: "Delicate Balances: Assessing the Needs and Rights of Siblings in Foster Care to Maintain Their Relationships Post-Adoption"

Randi Mandelbaum (Rutgers School of Law - Newark) has posted "Delicate Balances: Assessing the Needs and Rights of Siblings in Foster Care to Maintain Their Relationships Post-Adoption" (41 New Mexico L. Rev. 1) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Over the last two decades, social science research has demonstrated the critical nature of sibling relationships, and, most recently, the importance of sibling relationships for foster children. Unfortunately, although our legal system has begun to respond to our growing awareness of these essential connections, e.g., many states, as well as Congress, have enacted statutes that protect sibling relationships to some degree, few have established laws to protect the relationship in the post-adoption context, leaving approximately 60% of children adopted from foster care every year, who are separated from their siblings, without the right to maintain their relationships with one another.

Research also shows that permanency for foster children, enshrined in the law and accomplished through adoption, is critical. Yet, closed adoption statutes, enacted at a time when the majority of adoptions were private and of infants, as well as the rights of parents to make decisions concerning the upbringing of their children, result in a situation where to achieve permanency, many children must lose their right to maintain their sibling connections, as courts are not permitted to order contact between siblings post-adoption. In addition, policymakers are reluctant to impose post-adoption obligations for fear that doing so will discourage persons families from seeking to become foster and adoptive families.

After reviewing statutes and case law from all fifty states, examining the social science research, and discussing open adoptions, this article proposes a template of reforms to our child welfare and adoption laws, and addresses some of the concerns, which may be raised by these contemplated changes. The proposed statutory provisions presume that the relationship between siblings in the foster care system will be maintained and permits courts to order post-adoption sibling contact, where it can be shown that there are existing connections between the children and it is in all of the children’s best interest.

I argue that the rights of the adoptive parents may be overcome here because there is something different about the parent-child relationship when the child is adopted out of a state-run foster care system, as compared to a private adoption, typically of a baby. Given this uniqueness, there is reason to question whether a strict reliance on parental rights is appropriate. In short, when a child is adopted from foster care, the State has been actively involved in the creation of the adopting parent–adopted child relationship, and, thus, has a parens patriae obligation to ensure that it is in line with the child’s best interest. This presence of the state, along with the children’s strong interest in maintaining their relationships with one another, diminishes the adopting parents’ expectations as to complete autonomy and alters the balancing, which always occurs between the rights of parents and the interests of the children and the state. We would never permit the State to sanction an adoptive relationship that did not agree to meet a child’s medical or developmental needs. Why then would we accept a situation where an adoptive parent was refusing to maintain a sibling connection, when such a relationship has been documented as being emotionally, and even psychologically, important to the child’s well-being?

By proposing statutory reforms to our adoption laws, this article attempts to further the dialogue concerning the rights of siblings in foster care to maintain their relationship when one or more of the children are adopted. While recently there has been some scholarly attention paid to the needs and rights of siblings in foster care and the sibling relationship more generally, little of it has been in the legal arena, and none of it has exclusively focused on the interests of siblings in the foster care system post-adoption. Moreover, no one has addressed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, and explored what these federal mandates might mean for the rights of siblings, both prior to and after the point of adoption.


January 20, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gete & Porchia: "Fertility and Consumption When Having a Child is a Risky Investment"

Pedro Gete (Georgetown Univ.; IE Business School) and Paola Porchia (IE Business School) have posted "Fertility and Consumption When Having a Child is a Risky Investment" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In this paper we study a new factor that matters for fertility and consumption decisions: the risks associated with having and raising a child. We analyze a real options model with incomplete markets to explicitly model both children as a risky investment and the parental option to time fertility. We focus on CRRA preferences and uninsurable shocks to future parental income and to the costs of raising a child. We obtain several results that are new relative to the standard Beckerian fertility framework where children are deterministic goods: i) Independently of wealth, higher child cost volatility diminishes fertility. ii) Consumption is decreasing in higher cost volatility but the slope flattens as wealth increases. iii) Wealth alters the way in which the agent's risk tolerance impacts the fertility and consumption decisions. For low wealth levels, risk aversion speeds up fertility and lowers consumption with children serving as an utility insurance mechanism. iv) Fertility is increasing in the correlation between income and child cost shocks. v) The sign of this correlation determines if higher income volatility speeds up or delays fertility. vi) Fertility is U-shaped in the income over wealth ratio.

Finally, we use regression analysis to provide empirical support for the theoretical results.


January 20, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A NYT Wedding Announcement Gone Wrong

From MailOnline:
A jilted husband has savaged his cheating ex wife after she bragged about her infidelity in the wedding section of the New York Times.
'You could easily try to brush this off as... a self-serving act by a couple of narcissistic people, except for the fact that there are lots of children involved,' [the ex-husband] said.

Read more here.

January 20, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Effects of Tears

From the Washington Post:

It's widely held that a woman's tears will turn a man to mush. And many think that sympathetic response is a sign of sensitivity, a psychological shift away from baser male impulses.

But new research suggests that much of the response may be involuntary and that men are unable to help themselves. The smell of a woman's tears, the study found, is associated with a dip in testosterone, the principal male hormone, and a general decline in sexual arousal.

"We've identified that there is a chemosignal in human tears," said Noam Sobel, a neuroscientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science near Tel Aviv. Sobel headed the study, which involved exposing men to tears collected in vials. It was published online Thursday by the journal Science.

Historically, tears have been of more interest to poets than scientists.

"Emotional tears" are considered by many biologists to be uniquely human. They're known to have a different chemical composition than tears shed when the eye is simply irritated. The few studies of tears' psychological effects suggest they have a help-soliciting function.


Taken together, the results [of the study] "jointly suggest that women's emotional tears contain a chemosignal that reduces sexual arousal in men," the researchers concluded. "We have . . . identified an emotionally relevant function for tears."

Read more here.


January 19, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Aiken & Goldwasser: "The Perils of Empowerment"

Jane Aiken (Georgetown Univ. Law Center) & Katherine Goldwasser (Washington Univ. School of Law St. Louis) have posted "The Perils of Empowerment" (20 Cornell J. of Law & Public Policy) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This Article examines bystander norms of disinterest and blame that inform and undermine strategies for dealing with significant social problems such as domestic violence. Current strategies rely on individual “empowerment” to reduce such violence. These strategies reflect fundamental misconceptions and false assumptions about the nature of domestic violence, about why this sort of violence persists so stubbornly, and, ultimately, about what it takes to change behavior that has long been tolerated, if not actually fostered, as a result of deeply imbedded social and cultural norms. The net effect is that far from empowering abused women, let alone reaching the norms that have made this form of abuse such an intractable problem, the so-called empowerment approach instead perpetuates the traditional view of domestic violence as a private matter, properly the business of no one except the two intimates themselves. Everyone else is a mere bystander. The responsibility for ending domestic violence is squarely placed in the hands of its (supposedly) now-empowered victims: it is up to each individual battered woman to end the violence against her; if she fails she has only herself to blame. Drawing on the literature on norms and the law, we analyze how successful norm-changing strategies in other contexts suggest a different and more effective approach to the problem of domestic violence. The conscious change of tactics in anti-smoking campaigns from a focus on protecting the smoker to a focus on protecting non-smokers has resulted in a surprisingly rapid change in cultural norms about smoking. Lessons drawn from that campaign suggest new strategies for coping with domestic violence. The Article concludes that given the financial and personal negative effects of domestic violence on third parties, norm changing strategies that rely, not on notions of individual empowerment and autonomy, but rather on strategies grounded in the idea that domestic violence is a community problem that affects us all, are far more likely to have an impact on reducing intimate violence. Such norm-changing strategies transform the bystander into an interested party.


January 18, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Suing Cupid


Dallas-based online dating site is facing a federal lawsuit alleging that more than half of its profiles belong to inactive members or scammers.

The complaint, filed Dec. 30 in U.S. District Court in Dallas, alleges that the company does not remove profiles of customers who cancel subscriptions or vet profiles that may be fake.

The complaint also alleges that encourages members to renew subscriptions by sending them a message from an inactive or fake profile expressing romantic interest.

Read more here.


January 18, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Motro: "The Price of Pleasure"

Shari Motro (University of Richmond School of Law) has posted "The Price of Pleasure" (104 Northwestern Univ. L. Rev.) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Condoms break. Diaphragms malfunction. Even hormonal contraceptives aren’t 100% effective. Three million American women become pregnant unintentionally every year, and the rate of unintended pregnancies is especially high among young unmarried women. What is the legal relationship between these women and the men with whom they conceive? Current law treats unmarried lovers as strangers, leaving women to bear most of the costs of “free love” on their own. This Article argues that a different default should apply. Unmarried lovers who become pregnant are neither spouses nor complete strangers; they are something in between. Sex creates a unique type of relationship, and sex that results in pregnancy extends this relationship. Unless the parties agree on a no-strings-attached rule, the law should reflect this reality regardless of whether the pregnancy ends in abortion, miscarriage, or childbirth.


January 17, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

NYC Abortions

The number of abortions in New York City in 2009 has been released:

From CBS New York:

In 2009, there were 225,667 pregnancies in the City with 126,774 resulting in live births and 87,273 resulting in abortions. In addition to those abortion numbers, there were 11,620 spontaneous terminations.

Forty-six percent of all births in the Bronx result in abortions—the highest among the five boroughs, according to the report.

Blacks had the highest number of abortions with 40,798 with Hispanics having the second highest at 28,364, according to the report.

Read the news story here and the report here.



January 17, 2011 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nikku & Khadka: "Adoption in Nepal: Mythologized, Misunderstood and Mobilized"

Bala Raju Nikku (Nepal School of Social Work; Sutra Centre for Development Education and Research) and Gopal Khadkha have posted "Adoption in Nepal: Mythologized, Misunderstood and Mobilized" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Most academic research on international adoption focuses on either psychological or pedagogical aspects of adoption. This research project aims to investigate the social paradigms informing practices of adoption in Nepal. It is crucial to study the ways in which international adoption is institutionalized especially when there is a huge criticism about international adaption practices in Nepal. Central in this process are adoption agencies, Child Care Homes and legal institutions. Increasingly, they have become the brokers of adoption, mediating between birth parents, orphanages, adoptive parents, and various state agents from sending and receiving countries.The general objective of the study is to review the legal procedures and gaps regarding inter and intra country adoption procedures, study the status of child care homes in the Kathmandu Valley and to identify the people’s perspective on domestic and international child adoption.The main findings and recommendations are:

1. Though the current study is located within the Kathmandu valley the results will have implication for the Nepalese policy on both domestic and intercountry adoptions.

2. From the Public Perceptions study, it is clear that in Nepal a large majority of the general public are not fully aware of the intricacies of adoption policy and processes, hence leading to misconceptions about adoptions, especially with intercountry adoptions.

3. Public perception suggests that laws and policies should be made transparent, and monitoring body is to be formed to ensure the safety of the child. The child should not be adopted until the prospective adoptive parents prove that they have sound economic condition or financial security and are committed to the child’s future and well-being.

4. The child care homes that are involved with adoption services were not very open to share their work with others, They were not entirely transparent and worried about the future of the sector.

5. The children who are currently kept at the so-called child care homes and are ready for the intercountry adoptions legally may not be real orphans. Some may be ‘paper orphans.’ Hence the government should further investigate the facts and make necessary legal and social arrangements to protect the rights of the children.

6. The international agencies that are involved in intercountry adoptions are also showing inhibition when it comes to sharing views and details of their work in Nepal. This may be due to their unclear role, uncertainties involved with the law and policy at the time the study was carried out.

7. The adoption policy is heavily contested by the different interest groups (The Hague Conference on Private International Law, Government bureaucrats, NGOs, INGOs, Law makers, Media, Embassies Child care homes, Academic and research institutes) in Nepal and hence the policy is an outcome of push and pulls factors.

8. The evidence suggests that 35 percent of respondents opined that they do not pay attention to caste, while 16 percent of the respondents remarked that categorization (age, sex, caste or religion) does not make any difference to them. It is very encouraging and the government policies should further encourage domestic adoption in Nepal.

9. There are ample opportunities to encourage domestic adoptions but this is not yet fully explored both by government and non governmental institutions. A useful approach could be to start with foster care families and progressively encourage domestic adoption practices in Nepal. Domestic adoptions based on only social arrangements, with no legal foundation should not be allowed.

10. On the basis of the results this study strongly recommends that Nepal should ratify the Hague Convention as soon as possible and make rules for institutions involved in adoption to follow the Convention and other international ethical standards and practices.

11. This study shows the evidence that there are lacunas in the adoption policy formulation in the country. The majority of the respondents interviewed stated that they are not aware of the current policies and were not consulted or involved in the policy making. This suggests that the policy making is guided by self interests of few stakeholders and hence may not work in the best interests of the child.

12. There is a need for trained human resources ( trained social workers and child psychologists) to work in the child care/orphanages as the study found that the staff working in the current homes are not trained in general and not skilled to work with children with difficulties.

13. The study strongly recommends that no child should be placed outside his or her family unless it serves the child’s best interests. The institutional care/model to address the issue of orphans (especially in the case of double orphans) also needs further investigation and policy dialogue in Nepal.

14. Further academic research in this area is urgently needed to provide inputs policy making process in the country and also to provide alternative approaches to intercountry adoption.


January 16, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)