Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Three Seconds

From The Telegraph:

Researchers at Dundee University's School of Psychology studied the post-competition embraces of Olympic athletes to reach the conclusion [that hugs last 3 seconds], which they say applies across countries and cultures.

The findings confirm that a hug lasts about as long as many other human actions, and supports a theory that humans go through life perceiving the present in a series of "time windows", each lasting about three seconds.

The duration is the same the world over.

Cross-cultural studies over the past century have shown that people tend to operate in these bursts.

Goodbye waves, musical phrases, infants' bouts of babbling and gesturing, and the French "bises" -- a greeting kiss on each cheek -- all last about three seconds.

Read more here.


March 5, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Francis, Mialon & Peng: "The Effects of Same-Sex Marriage Laws on Public Health and Welfare"

Andrew M. Francis, Hugo M. Mialon & Handie Peng (Emory Univ. Dept. of Economics) have posted "The Effects of Same-Sex Marriage Laws on Public Health and Welfare" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This paper analyzes the relationships among same-sex marriage bans, social attitudes toward gays and non-marital sex, and measures of public health and welfare. We hypothesize that same-sex marriage bans may foster intolerance for gays and increase the social costs of same-sex partnerships, which may raise incentives for risky homosexual behavior. We also hypothesize that same-sex marriage bans may codify and signal traditional family values, which may raise the benefits of heterosexual marriage and reduce incentives for non-marital sex. Using micro- and state-level data, we find evidence that same-sex marriage bans reduced tolerance for gays and increased the syphilis rate, a rough proxy for risky homosexual behavior. However, we find no consistent evidence that same-sex marriage bans impacted risky heterosexual behavior, marriage, or divorce.


March 4, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Altman: "The Pursuit of Intimacy and Parental Rights"

Scott Altman (USC School of Law) has posted "The Pursuit of Intimacy and Parental Rights" (The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Law, Andrei Marmor, ed., 2011) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract.

This paper explores whether parents’ rights to live with their children and to deny others access to those children are justified by the more basic right to form and maintain intimate relationships. Many theories treat parental rights as derivative – indirectly justified by children’s interests. This paper asserts a nonderivative justification based on the value of intimacy to parents.

The paper initially explores the potential intimate relationship between a father and his newborn genetic child. It asks whether the interest in parental intimacy creates any reason to demand access to this particular child. Just as a right to intimacy provides no claim that a particular stranger become my friend, the right to become a parent seems to provide no justification for demanding access to a particular child. The paper argues that duties to care for genetic children – even controversial duties not widely accepted – provide a prima facie right to care for a genetic child. The right to establish an intimate relationship derives from a duty to do so.

The paper next considers rights to maintain ongoing intimate relationships with children. These are often challenged when grandparents or step-parents seek visitation over a parent’s objection, or when a custodial parent seeks to relocate after divorce. I explore two common interpretations of these conflicts, which are pervasive in both legal and moral relationships: that people who knowingly make themselves vulnerable assume risks of loss, or that people who knowingly accept another’s vulnerability owe duties not unreasonably to disappoint those who rely on them.

The paper concludes by considering whether broad parental authority – to exclude others and to direct the upbringing of children – can be justified by the parental right to intimacy. I do not believe intimacy can justify such rights. But I explore briefly alternative parental interests that could ground this right – interests that compare parents with artist and other creative workers.


March 4, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Georgetown Tax Law, Gender and Sexuality Conference, March 30

The Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law Presents

A Symposium Confronting the Intersection of Tax Law, Gender and Sexuality

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Panel 1: Tax Law in the Context of Feminist Goals

9:00-9:30  Nancy Staudt, Primary Speaker, Class of 1940 Research Professor of Law, Northwestern University Law School

9:30-9:50  Shari Motro, Commenter, Associate Professor of Law, University of Richmond; Visiting Associate Professor of Law,  Georgetown University Law Center

9:50-10:10  Lawrence Zelenak, Commenter, Pamela B. Gann Professor of Law, Duke University Law School




Panel 2: Tax Law, Gender Identity and Sexuality

10:50-11:20  Anthony C. Infanti, Primary Speaker, Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law

11:20-11:40  Bridget J. Crawford, Commenter, Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, Pace Law School

11:40-12:00  Patricia Cain, Commenter, Inez Mable Distinguished Professor of Law, Santa Clara Law




Panel 3: Women in Tax Law Academia

1:10-1:40  Deborah Schenk, Primary Speaker, Ronald and Marilynn Grossman Professor of Taxation, Editor-in-Chief, Tax Law Review, New York University Law School

1:40-2:00  Ruth Mason, Commenter, Nancy and Bill Trachsel '71 Corporate Law Scholar and Professor of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law, Visiting Professor of Law, Yale Law School

2:00-2:20  Sarah Lawsky, Commenter, Acting Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law




March 4, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Friends Have Same Effect as Lovers?

The bonds of family are not unique?

From Mail Online:

For chaps who pride themselves on their wooing techniques, it is news guaranteed to wilt the self-esteem.

Many modern women derive just as much satisfaction from a meal with the girls as a night of passion with a man.

And there is a sound scientific reason, say experts.

A study has found women release oxytocin – the same chemical which helps them to reach a climax during sex – when they are with their friends.

According to a Californian university, a ‘socially rich environment’ and ‘strong social network’ are conducive to oxytocin production.

Read more here.


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

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Symposium: "The New "Illegitimacy: Revisiting Why Parentage Should Not Depend on Marriage"

Presented by the Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law and the National Center for Lesbian Rights

Friday, March 25, 2011 (9:00 AM – 5:00 PM)

Saturday, March 26, 2011 (9:30 AM – NOON)

American University Washington College of Law, Room 603

4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016

It is an axiom of modern family law: children should not suffer as a result of being born to unmarried parents. This principle, however, is under attack. In some states, including New York and Massachusetts, children born to lesbian couples find that their status depends upon whether their parents are married (or in a civil union). But courts must extend to the children of same-sex couples the well-established tenet that the law should not discriminate against children born outside marriage. It is also distressing that some support for access to marriage for same-sex couples relies on disparaging "illegitimate" children. Arguing that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry to prevent the "illegitimacy" of their children flips on its head the modern understanding that neither law nor society should penalize children of unmarried parents. This conference will address the issues raised by recent developments privileging the children of married parents.   Presenters will include:


Susan Appleton, Lemma Barkeloo and Phoebe Couzins Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law

Nicholas Bala, Professor of Law, Queen’s University Faculty of Law(Canada)

Carlos Ball, Professor of Law and Judge Frederick Lacey Scholar, Rutgers School of Law-Newark

Cynthia Bowman, Dorothea S. Clarke Professor of Law, Cornell University Law School

Sacha Coupet, Assistant Professor and Director of Research, Civitas ChildLaw Center, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Katherine Franke, Professor of Law and Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School

Joanna Grossman, Professor of Law and John DeWitt Gregory Research Scholar, Hofstra University School of Law

Leslie Harris, Dorothy Kliks Fones Professor, University of Oregon School of Law

Melanie Jacobs, Associate Professor of Law, Michigan State University College of Law

Courtney Joslin, Acting Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law

Solangel Maldonado, Professor of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law

Serena Mayeri, Assistant Professor of Law and History, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Nancy Polikoff, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law

Julie Shapiro, Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law

Catherine Smith, Associate Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Institutional Diversity and Inclusiveness, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Dean Spade, Assistant Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law

Richard Storrow, Professor of Law, City University of New York School of Law

Tanya Washington, Associate Professor of Law, Georgia State University College of Law

Registration is free but required – please go to

For further information, contactOffice of Special Events & Continuing Legal Education, 202.274.4075 or


March 2, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dating Site Built from Public Facebook Profiles

From Wired:

How does a unknown dating site, with the absurd intention of destroying Facebook, launch with 250,000 member profiles on the first day?


You scrape data from Facebook.

At least, that’s the approach taken by two provocateurs who launched this week, with profiles — names, locations and photos — scraped from publicly accessible Facebook pages. The site categorizes these unwitting volunteers into personality types, using a facial recognition algorithm, so you can search for someone in your general area who is “easy going,” “smug” or “sly.”

Or you can just search on people’s real names.

Read more here.



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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Farra: "Theories of Discrimination & Gay Marriage"

Adam Farra (University of Maryland School of Law) has posted "Theories of Discrimination & Gay Marriage" (69 Maryland L. Rev. Endnotes 1 (2010)).  Here is the abstract:

America is embroiled in a culture war about gay marriage. This culture war has bled into both the federal legal system and various state legal systems. The result is a national patchwork of gay marriage jurisprudence. A variety of courts addressing the same question have arrived at vastly different decisions and rationales, even though the law they applied is not particularly different. The question each court has addressed is whether restricting the institution of civil marriage to heterosexual or ― opposite-sex couples violates some equal protection guarantee or equality principle. The answers are anything but consistent.

This Comment explores the inconsistency and then attempts to explain it. If multiple states are addressing the same question and applying, generally, the same body of law, then why do the results vary so much from state to state? Theoretically, if restricting marriage to heterosexual couples violates some basic principle of equal protection, then that legal conclusion should not change much based on jurisdiction. This Comment argues that the answer is embedded within the assumptions and themes guiding each court‘s moral understanding of discrimination — or, more plainly, why each court thinks discrimination is wrong to begin with.


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

Brinig: "Belonging and Trust: Divorce and Social Capital"

Margaret F. Brinig (Notre Dame Law School) has posted "Belonging and Trust: Divorce and Social Capital" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

To whom do spouses belong? Do they belong to their communities as well as each other and their immediate families? These questions are explored in an empirical paper demonstrating ways in which social capital in communities may affect even the marriages of people living in them.


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

DOMA No Longer Defended

From the New York Law Journal:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that he had written to House Speaker John A. Boehner that the administration could no longer defend in court the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.


The act absolves states and other subdivisions from the need to recognize, under the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution, same-sex marriages contracted in jurisdictions where they are legal. Its Section 3 defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

"[T]he President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law, Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional," Mr. Holder wrote.

If it chooses to defend the law, Congress will now have to hire its own lawyers. But the administration's stance will give added ammunition to opponents of the law.

Read more here.


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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Same-Sex Inheritance in NY

From the New York Law Journal:

A state appeals court has cleared the way for a same-sex spouse to inherit the estate of his deceased partner.

The Appellate Division, First Department, held yesterday in Matter of the Estate of H. Kenneth Ranftle, 4214, that recognizing the marriage in Canada of H. Kenneth Ranftle and J. Craig Leiby, who was designated as Mr. Ranftle's "surviving spouse and sole distributee," did not violate public policy.

Read more here.



February 28, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Slap on the Wrist for Warren Jeffs Follower

From ABC News:

A follower of Warren Jeffs who admitted during the
trial of the polygamist sect leader that he had sex with
his child bride cousin will get off with just 30 days in
jail as a result of a plea deal. Allen Steed, who was
originally charged with first degree felony rape,
pleaded guilty to a charge of solemnizing a
prohibited marriage, and a St. George, Utah, judge
Friday sentenced him to 30 days, followed by 36
months of probation. Fifth District Court Judge G.
Rand Beacham ordered Steed to report Monday to
Washington County's Purgatory Correctional Facility.
If he does not violate the probation, another charge
of unlawful sex with a minor will be dropped from a
felony to a misdemeanor, sparing him from having to
register as a sex offender, the judge said. Steed, who
was 19 in 2001 when Jeffs married him to his 14-
year-old cousin, Elissa Wall, could have faced five
years in prison for each of the two charges. Had he
been convicted of the original rape charge, he could
have been sent to prison for life. Jeffs, who was the
leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints, was convicted in September 2007 of
being an accessory to rape for marrying the couple
and then coercing Wall to fulfill her religious duties
by having sex with her husband. That verdict was
overturned on appeal, but while Utah prosecutors
decide whether to retry Jeffs, the former FLDS leader is
jailed in Texas, where he faces trial in July on charges
of sexual abuse of a child and bigamy. It was Wall's
story that sparked the case against Jeffs. At his trial,
she testified that Jeffs used his power as a religious
leader to force her into a marriage in which he knew
sex would be expected.

Read more here.


February 27, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)