Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Male Expiration Dates?!

From the New York Times:

OF all the details surrounding Prince William's April marriage to his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton, few seem to have garnered as much attention as his rapidly receding hairline.

“You Can Leave Your Hat On” and “No Hair to the Throne” are among the many headlines that have appeared in the British tabloids. Which poses a question: Is it possible that the 28-year-old prince felt an urge to lock up a commitment from Ms. Middleton because his heart-throb status might be beginning to disappear with the hair? If so, what must the rest of the not-so-princely men in the world feel when youthful looks begin to fade?

In the past, only women were perceived to have a marital sell-by date. But thanks to a convergence of social and economic trends, some men feel the same pressures.

“The clock ticks for both men and women,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.

Michael Kimmel, a sociologist, said one contributing factor is the increasing economic independence of women. Mr. Kimmel, a professor at the Statue University of New York, Stony Brook, cited a 1930s study by Willard Waller that evaluated how women and men assessed each other’s sexual marketability based on criteria including physical appearance, social skills and financial stability. A woman of that era valued a man’s earning capacity above good looks and other traits.

But now, Mr. Kimmel said, “women are able to provide for a family, so they are more able to focus as well on physical features.”

Also, men have become more concerned with body image, meaning that they are more likely to measure themselves against culturally perceived standards of attractiveness, according to Ashley Mears, a sociologist. She traces the trend to the 1980s with more advertisements and magazines geared toward men.

In other words, those Propecia and Rogaine ads can wear on the psyche.

Men may give themselves some leeway when it comes to putting on a few extra pounds and having wrinkles (two typical areas of concern among aging women hoping to attract a mate). But hair loss — both androgenic alopecia, often referred to as male-pattern baldness, and alopecia areata, which typically involves temporary and localized shedding — can be emotionally traumatic, especially for men in their 20s.

In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology estimates 80 million men and women in the United States suffer from hereditary thinning or baldness.

Dr. Alice Trisdorfer, a psychologist in Philadelphia, said she once had a patient so consumed by his thinning hair that he “would count the number of hairs lost on his pillow and how many he found in the shower drain.”

Read more of such speculation here.


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

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ellman, Braver, & MacCoun: "Abstract Principles and Concrete Cases in Intuitive Lawmaking"

Ira Ellman (Arizona State Univ.College of Law), Sanford Braver (ASU Dept. of Psychology) & Robert MacCoun (UC Berkeley School of Law) have posted "Abstract Principles and Concrete Cases in Intuitive Lawmaking" (forthcoming Law & Human Behavior) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Citizens awaiting jury service were asked a series of items, in Likert format, to determine their endorsement of various statements about principles to use in setting child support amounts. These twenty items were derived from extant child support systems, from past literature and from Ellman and Ellman’s (2008) Theory of Child Support. The twenty items were found to coalesce into four factors (principles). There were pervasive gender differences in respondent’s endorsement of the principles. More importantly, three of these four principles were systematically reflected, in very rational (if complex) ways, in the respondents’ resolution of the individual child support cases they were asked to decide. Differences among respondents in their endorsement of these three principles accounted for differences in their patterns of child support judgments. It is suggested that the pattern of coherent arbitrariness (Ariely, Loewenstein, & Prelec, 2003) in those support judgments, noted in an earlier study (Ellman, Braver, and MacCoun 2009) is thus partially explained, in that the seeming arbitrariness of respondents’ initial support judgments reflect in part their differing views about the basic principles that should decide the cases.


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

Hogue: "The Constitutional Obligation to Adjudicate Petitions for Same-Sex Divorce and the Dissolution of Civil Unions and Analogous Same-Sex Relationships: Prolegomenon to a Brief"

Lynn Hogue (Georgia State University College of Law) has posted "The Constitutional Obligation to Adjudicate Petitions for Same-Sex Divorce and the Dissolution of Civil Unions and Analogous Same-Sex Relationships: Prolegomenon to a Brief" (41 Cal. West. Int'l L. J. 229 (2010)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Same-sex couples who entered into marriage, or marriage-like relationships in states that recognize such relationships, have been denied divorce or dissolution of those relationships by other states. These states refuse to recognize same-sex marriages, or their cognates, on constitutional or statutory grounds generally for want of jurisdiction. This Article argues that all such denials are unconstitutional. The argument is based on a doctrinal trifecta anchored by the law of three cases: Williams v. North Carolina, which deconstructed marriage; Boddie v. Connecticut, which swept away impediments to court access in family law matters, particularly divorce, where the state retains a monopoly on dissolution of a fundamental relationship; and Hughes v. Fetter, which required states to open their courts to narrowly similar juridical analogues from other states pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause. Importantly, Justice Black identified “the national policy of the Full Faith and Credit Clause” in Hughes, a meta-policy that informs the Clause and controls its meaning and application beyond the micro-issues of enforcement, which restricts application of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) in these circumstances.


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

Scharff & Herrick: "Navigating Emotional Currents in Collaborative Divorce: A Guide to Enlightened Team Practice"

The ABA is offering a new book entitled Navigating Emotional Currents in Collaborative Divorce: A Guide to Enlightened Team Practice by Kate Scharff, MSW & Lisa Herrick, Ph.D.  Read about it here.


February 11, 2011 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cyber Hugs

From The Telegraph:

Sensory equipment enabling people to share a hug across cyberspace has been in development for several years, and experts insist it will one day become part of everyday life.

Adrian Cheok, associate professor at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University developed one such system, based on the award-winning Hug-Shirt, that allows parents and children to share "cyberhugs" while miles apart.

Teddy bears were fitted with sensors that detected when they were hugged by the parent, and the sensation was transmitted to the child via a special jacket fitted with heated copper wires.

Speaking at the time, he told CNN: "For a while technology has been driving people apart, locking them in front of computer screens, now we hope to use it to bring them together."

His product did not achieve global success but last year scientists based in Japan built a similar product – a wearable robot dubbed "iFeel_IM!" ("I feel therefore I am").

The prototype, which looked like a network of connected straps similar to a harness, was designed to add a human-like level of sensation to online conversations.

Read more here.



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

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Breger: "Against the Dilution of a Child's Voice in Court"

Melissa Breger (Albany Law School) has posted "Against the Dilution of a Child's Voice in Court" (20 Indiana Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 2010) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Children's voices have been diluted in the court system, as the dominant paradigm in children's legal theory has too often overlooked the voices of our youth. The dilution of children‘s voices in the courtroom is not only disempowering and disenfranchising to children, but is also misguided. In the United States, there is no uniform standard for the role of the child‘s attorney. Instead there are multiple models of lawyering for children throughout the states.

This Article first examines the currently existing American child attorney paradigms through the lens of international norms and the written ideals of the CRC treaty, arguing that without the child‘s right to be heard codified into American law, the United States is not consonant with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the - "CRC"), Article 12. The Article then examines the laws of New York State as an additional backdrop and also to propose forward-thinking and child rights-oriented statutes.

Ultimately, this article emphasizes the fundamental importance and essence of listening to our children‘s true voices in the courtroom. Until children can be fully heard, their voices remain absent, or at best diluted, from the very legal system intended to help them.


February 9, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I Want to Hold Your Hand...

From The Telegraph:

Scientists have shown that holding the hand of a loved one can reduce their pain during times of distress.

University of California revealed that, at least for women, the touch or sight of a partner seems to anaesthetise them.

Even a photograph of their loved one is enough to have an effect.

The 25 volunteers were mostly students who had been in a good relationship with their boyfriends for at least six months.

Tests revealed that if the young women were given a mild burn, they felt less discomfort by looking at photos of their boyfriends.

A similar anaesthetising effect was found if they held hands with their partners when "moderately painful heat stimuli" was applied to their forearms.

Read more here.


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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Symposium: "Divorcing the Multi-National Family"

The 2011 Family Law Symposium: Divorcing the Multi-National Family

 Friday, February 25, 2010 at 1:00 P.M.

 At the University of Oklahoma College of Law

Bell Courtroom

300 Timberdell Road

Norman, Oklahoma 73019

 Presented by The Oklahoma Bar Association Family Law Section, Imprimatur Press and Oklahoma Law Review

 This event features William Duncan, Deputy Secretary General, Hague Conference on Private International Law, and other experts in family law. The Oklahoma Bar Association Family Law Section is a Presumptive Oklahoma MCLE Provider. This course has been approved by the Oklahoma Bar Association Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Commission for 3.0 hours of mandatory CLE Credit. Cost is free for OBA Family Law Section members. 

 For more information and to register, go to or contact Philip Bruce at or (270) 300-7718.

February 8, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Shaken Baby Syndrome

The New York Times Magazine recently ran an interesting article on the shaken baby syndrome and the exent of its legitimacy, profiling a legal case regarding it in VA.  Read it here.


Hat Tip: EM


February 8, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baker: "Trifling Violence: The U.S. Supreme Court, Domestic Violence and the Golden Rule"

Jeffrey Baker (Faulkner Univ. Jones School of Law) has posted "Trifling Violence: The U.S. Supreme Court, Domestic Violence and the Golden Rule" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Domestic violence is ubiquitous across eras, cultures, religions and political systems. Feminist responses to domestic violence seek to free women from gender subjugation, but such movement inevitably challenges moral and natural claims about marriage and family in traditional society. These traditions often claim religious and moral authority, while reformers often have overreacted by abandoning established moral thought in favor of relativistic, individual moral discernment. This tension is manifest in the struggle at common law to adjust moral language to the gradual, radical evolution of gender status and marriage.

The plight of women and girls in the developing world is the preeminent human rights issue of our age, and it coincides with remarkable, quick shifts in the legal and cultural definitions of marriage and family in America. In this milieu, we witness the rise of originalism and a resurgence of “new” natural law in jurisprudence and moral philosophy, pushing against feminist lawmaking and the rapid development of domestic violence law within a generation. My article takes stock of the moral ground at the intersection of these forces and measures them against a metric of neighbor-love and charity.

I examine the history of domestic violence in the common law at the Supreme Court to illuminate the challenge to liberating, empowering reform and the defensive resistance of traditional moral claims. I propose to revive an ancient idea, the Golden Rule, as the core moral, natural underpinning for marriage and family law, especially as it implicates domestic violence. The old common law of marriage made stark and bold claims to nature and morality but did not accommodate the deeper principle of intentional, disciplined love. Likewise, the Court’s contemporary moral metric, sharply deferential to individual conscience, ignores the fundamental moral rule, upon which Western jurisprudence must and ought to hang. This moment generates a divide that alienates traditional claims to morality from feminist claims to human dignity, when both might share constructive space within a rigorous Golden Rule.

The immoral roots of the common law survive to this day in generations of victims and perpetrators. If the common law’s old claims to morality and nature had grappled with love and the Golden Rule, courts could not have ignored the ugly, violent effects of subjugation in traditional marriage. Thus, I offer a caution for our age, first suggesting that courts and lawmakers should be wary of importing the bad moral reasoning of the founding era as it relates to families and marriage, and then suggesting that an ethic of love is a sounder foundation than blind genuflection to individual sovereignty and autonomous moral discernment. Rather than discarding established moral and religious ideas, courts should sound the law in the superior, antecedent Golden Rule.


February 7, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Marrying for Tuition Money

From the New York Times:

Students worldwide compete to attend the University of California, Berkeley, considered one of the best universities in the United States.

But economically, in-state students have a huge advantage over non-Californians, for whom tuition costs an additional $22,000 a year (as of 2010-11).

The financial stakes are so high that some out-of-state students are employing an unusual technique to meet the University of California's strict residency requirements: they’re getting married.

These marriages do not technically break any laws, but students are understandably hesitant to speak publicly about them. The Bay Citizen was able to find nine such couples.

U.C. students from out of state must meet three requirements to establish residency — physical presence, intent to stay and financial independence — a complicated process that takes at least two years. The independence test is the hardest to pass.

When students marry, they can automatically claim themselves as independent, provided their parents do not claim them as dependents on their taxes. After that, gaining in-state tuition is a breeze.

A few years ago, a student from the Midwest believed she could not afford the annual $30,000 in student fees (including $20,000 in out-of-state tuition), so she posted on Facebook that she was looking for a husband.. (The woman requested anonymity out of fear of repercussions from U.C.)

An out-of-state student whom she did not know responded to her post, and they married in 2007, the summer before her junior year. She graduated in 2009 and estimated that the marriage had saved her $50,000. The couple has divorced.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: EM


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

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nicola: "Family Law Exceptionalism in Comparative Law"

Fernanda Nicola (American Univ. Washington College of Law) has posted "Family Law Exceptionalism in Comparative Law" (58 American J. Comparative Law 777 (2010)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Today, family law is, to a surprising degree, at the center of comparative law inquiries committed to legal unification. Comparative family law projects range from analyzing convergence and harmonization proposals in the West, to law and development schemes in the rest of the world. The most salient reforms of abortion, same-sex marriage, transsexual, and adoption rights are increasingly promoted at the transnational level through international human rights and anti-discrimination principles. Regional and international human rights tribunals in Europe and Latin America are called upon to interpret the right to family life, non-discrimination, and freedom of movement principles to redefine the contours of domestic family, immigration, and employment law regimes. While comparative lawyers are increasingly involved in shaping these transnational family law regimes, they present their choices as reflecting objective scientific knowledge that they have acquired through the comparative law method. This consensus about a single comparative law method is troubling because it allows comparison between abstract family law regimes that bear little relevance to what happens in practice or to the proposal of a "best" family law regime for unification purposes, while obscuring the political and economic implications of adopting one particular family law regime over another.


February 6, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)