Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gifts for the (Very) Recently Single

Knife describes this "ex" knife set, and more divorce products, here.


November 12, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Time Extended to Submit Proposals for 8th Annual Wells Conference on Adoption Law

Call for Presentations and Papers
Eighth Annual Wells Conference on Adoption Law
March 8, 2012
Searching for Family: The Impact of Technology and Social Media on Adoption

Send proposals by Nov. 23, 2011, to Capital University Law Review Symposium Editor Christine Diedrick Mochel at

The conference is still accepting proposals for presentations and papers emphasizing the following themes:

Facilitating Adoptions through the Internet
Suggested topics include, but are not limited to: using the internet to facilitate adoptions, the legal barriers to using the internet to facilitate adoptions, and the ethical implications of using the internet to facilitate adoptions.

Changes in Search and Reunion Activities through the Internet and Social Media
Suggested topics include, but are not limited to: the psychological and attachment implications of search and reunion activities through the internet and social media, whether regulation of search and reunion situations facilitated through the internet is desirable, and the role of intermediaries.

Legal Implications of Technology’s Impact on Evolving “Family” Dynamics
Suggested topics include, but are not limited to: how the law responds to advances in technology, whether the law can keep up with changes in technology, and issues with children who have not been adopted.

Participants are asked to lead a forty-minute discussion on one of the above topics. Each topic will have three panel members who will give a presentation, followed by a discussion at the end. In addition, participants are requested to prepare an article associated with their presentation for publication in the Capital University Law Review next year. The article would be due on August 1, 2012.

Capital University Law School is home to the National Center for Adoption Law & Policy. In light of the University’s strong focus on child welfare and adoption law, the Capital University Law Review initiated the Wells Conference on Adoption Law in 2005. The First Annual Wells Conference was entitled “Illuminating the Child’s Perspective,” and highlighted speakers such as Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, Elizabeth Bartholet, and Martin Guggenheim. Each year the Wells Conference attracts respected professionals and academics who are pioneers in the field of Adoption Law. With your help, we expect to continue that tradition this year.

Thank you for your consideration.

Send proposals by Oct. 1, 2011, to Capital University Law Review Symposium Editor Christine Diedrick Mochel at

For more information, visit


November 11, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Baude: "Beyond DOMA: Choice of State Law in Federal Statutes"

William Baude (Stanford Law School) has posted "Beyond DOMA: Choice of State Law in Federal Statutes" (forthcoming Stanford Law Review) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The Defense of Marriage Act has been abandoned by the executive and held unconstitutional by courts, so it is time to think about what will be left in its place. Federal law frequently asks whether a couple is married. But marriage is primarily a creature of state law, and states differ as to who may marry. The federal government has no system for deciding what state’s law governs a marriage, though more than a thousand legal provisions look to marital status, more than a hundred thousand same-sex couples report being married, and many of those marriages ultimately cross state lines. Unless a federal choice of law system is designed, DOMA’s demise will lead to chaos.

This paper argues that such a system can and should be de-signed: Because the underlying choice-of-law problem is ultimately a problem of statutory interpretation, Congress can and should replace it with a clear choice-of-law rule. Failing that, federal courts can and should develop a common law rule of their own - they are not (and should not be) bound by the Supreme Court’s decision in Klaxon v. Stentor Electric. The paper further argues that different institutions should solve the problem differently: If Congress acts, it should recognize all marriages that were valid in the state where they took place. If, instead, the courts create a common-law rule, they should recognize all marriages that are valid in the couple’s domicile.

The implications of this argument run far beyond the demise of DOMA. In all areas of what is here called “interstitial law,” federal interpretive institutions can and should devise a set of choice-of-law rules for federal law that draws upon state law, and what set of rules is proper may well depend on who adopts them.


November 11, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cohen: Regulating Reproduction: The Problem with Best Interests"

I. Glenn Cohen (Harvard) has posted "Regulating Reproduction: The Problem with Best Interests" (96 Minn. L. Rev. 101 (2011)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Should the state permit anonymous sperm donation? Should brother-sister incest between adults be made criminal? Should individuals over the age of fifty be allowed access to re-productive technologies? Should the state fund abstinence education?

One common form of justification that is offered to answer these and a myriad of other reproductive policy questions is concern for the best interests of the children that will result, absent state intervention, from these forms of reproduction. This focus on the Best Interests of the Resulting Child (BIRC) is, on the surface, quite understandable and stems from a transposition of a central organizing principle of family law justifying state intervention - the protection of the best interests of existing children - visible in areas such as adoption, child custody, and child removal. The Article demonstrates that while parallel reasoning is frequently offered (by legislatures, by courts, by commentators, by physicians) to justify state interventions that seek to influence whether, when, and with whom individuals reproduce, such justifications are problematic and misleading. The Article’s aim is nothing short of re-writing our way of thinking about the regulation of reproduction.

Drawing on insights from bioethics and the philosophy of identity, the Article shows why the BIRC justification, at least stated as such, is problematic both as a normative and constitutional matter: unless the state’s failure to intervene would foist upon the child a “life not worth living,” any attempt to alter whether, when, or with whom an individual reproduces cannot be justified on the basis that harm will come to the resulting child, since but for that intervention the child would not exist. Nevertheless, the Article shows that BIRC arguments are frequently relied upon by courts, legislatures, and scholars to justify these interventions. At a doctrinal level the Article also shows that this reliance on BIRC justifications is in tension with the implicit rejection of similar reasoning by courts unwilling to recognize wrongful life torts.

After demonstrating why the BIRC argument is unworkable as stated, the Article considers three possible reformulations of the argument that would save it, including one that focuses on population welfare. It explains why none of these approaches is persuasive, including by discussing their disturbing implications as to enhancement and eugenics. The Article also briefly discusses how this analysis bears on the constitutionality of these interventions.

Once the BIRC justification and its reformulations are shown to be problematic, it becomes apparent that either these forms of reproductive regulation are unjustified or quite different sorts of justifications must be relied on. I briefly plot three such theories, each of which depends on more controversial ideas that the label of “best interests” obfuscates. These theories are examined in-depth in a companion article, Beyond Best Interests, which appears in the April 2012 issue of the Minnesota Law Review and will be uploaded to SSRN soon.

There are also two related papers: Rethinking Sperm-Donor Anonymity: Of Changed Selves, Non-Identity, and One-Night Stands, 100 Georgetown Law Review, Vol. 100, 2012, which will be posted on SSRN soon and Intentional Diminishment, the Non-Identity Problem, and Legal Liability, Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 60, 2008, available at


November 10, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Recognizing Limits to Supermom

From the American Sociological Association:

Working moms have lower rates of depression than their stay-at-home counterparts, but buying into the supermom myth could put working mothers at greater risk for depression, suggests new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

The study shows that working mothers who expressed a supermom attitude that work and home lives can be blended with relative ease showed higher levels of depression symptoms than working moms who expected that they would have to forego some aspects of their career or parenting to achieve a work-life balance.

Read more here.


November 10, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Brains Outweigh Weight

From the Huff Post:

According to Chiappori and his co-researchers...physical and financial attractiveness trump all other factors in the marriage market, but if your appearance diverges from the ideal, specifically if you weigh more than is considered conventionally attractive, other factors can help you remain as attractive to a potential spouse as you were before.

For men, a 10 percent increase in body mass index (BMI), which is calculated by dividing your weight by the square of your height, can be overcome by a 3 percent increase in income. A woman who weighs more can up her level of attractiveness with more education.

Read more here.


November 9, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jurisdiction for Certain Adoption Proceedings

From the StarTribune:

Adoption proceedings for an Indian child whose parents' rights were terminated must take place within state courts, not tribal courts, the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered Wednesday.

In the 4-2 decision, the court reversed two earlier orders granting the White Earth Band of Ojibwe permission to handle the child's adoption within its tribal court.

In its order, the Supreme Court reasoned that under the Indian Child Welfare Act, tribal authority is limited to foster care placement and termination of parental rights -- not adoptive placement.

Read more here.


November 8, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Maiden Names

Are women who take their husband's names perceived to be less intelligent and more caring?  Find out here, according to a new study.


November 7, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)