Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Morocco's Penal Code

From the Huffington Post:

RABAT, March 15 (Reuters) - Morocco on Thursday said it would amend a law allowing rapists to marry their underage female victims after the suicide of a teenage girl raised doubts about the effectiveness of reforms to women's rights in the country.

Sixteen-year-old Amina El-Filali killed herself last week near the northern city of Larache by swallowing rat poison after a six-month forced marriage to the man who raped her.

Local human rights activists say the law violates women's rights and was created to avoid damage to the reputation of the victim's family.

Read more here.


March 24, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 23, 2012

West: "A Marriage is a Marriage is a Marriage: The Limits of Perry v. Brown"

Robin West (Georgetown Univ. Law Center) has posted "A Marriage is a Marriage is a Marriage: The Limits of Perry v. Brown" (forthcoming Harvard L. Rev. Forum) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The Ninth Circuit’s decision in Perry v. Brown, authored by Judge Reinhardt, has been widely lauded by marriage equality proponents for its creative minimalism. In keeping with commentators’ expectations, the court found a way to determine that California’s Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, namely that the provision took away an entitlement that had previously been enjoyed by same-sex couples — the right to the appellation of one’s partnership as a “marriage” — for no rational reason. The people of California’s categorization and differential treatment of same-sex couples as compared with opposite-sex couples, the court held, failed the test of minimal rationality required for upholding state action. The two types of couples were simply too indistinguishable to carry the weight of the difference between them that the people of California had tried to codify. Thus, the court struck down the state constitutional amendment.

The court did so, however, by relying heavily on facts peculiar to California’s political history, thereby limiting the case’s disruption of democratic processes in both California and elsewhere, and, not incidentally, minimizing the size of the target the case presents should the presumptively hostile Supreme Court review the decision. First, Proposition 8 removed an entitlement that had been granted by the California Supreme Court just a few years earlier. The case thus arose in a posture not shared by other cases involving same-sex marriage: what was at stake was the constitutionality of a referendum that took away — rather than failed to grant — same-sex marriage. Second, California, by statute, guarantees to same-sex couples a “domestic partnership” which statutorily grants all of the legal incidents of marriage, including rights of parentage and adoption. Because of the first fact — that what the Court was faced with was the withdrawal of a preexisting right — the Court did not have to reach the question of whether same-sex couples possess a “right to marry” where it has never before been recognized. Because of the second fact — that all that was at stake in California was the appellation “marriage” since the domestic partnership laws guaranteed to same-sex couples all other incidents of marital status — there was no need for the Court to decide whether there would be a “rational basis” for a state to refuse to grant the right to marry to same-sex couples on the basis of the purported superiority of child-raising in families headed by opposite-sex partners: the case simply does not raise these questions, since California’s statutory scheme grants equal family status to both sorts of couples, and Proposition 8 did not upset that. The court did not, therefore, have to decide that there exists a “fundamental right to marry,” or that any restriction on the rights of gay people to marry would violate fundamental constitutional values. Rather, it narrowly held that Proposition 8, which stripped gay citizens only of the appellation “married” and left all other incidents of marriage intact, worked a dignitary and psychic harm on gay and lesbian partners, and did so for no defensible reason. This decision is thus of no relevance to cases challenging a state’s refusal to extend marriage to include gays and lesbians, and it is of no relevance to cases challenging a state’s withdrawal of such a right if that right is also accompanied by a denial of concrete benefits and accompanied by some explanation — such as the superiority of hetero-sexual parenting — for the decision to do so. Perry v. Brown is nothing more than a sui generis decision for a unique set of facts. Thus, creative minimalism.


March 23, 2012 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jail for Facebook Rant on Divorce


Photographer Mark Byron was so bothered by his pending divorce and child visitation issues that he blasted his soon-to-be ex-wife on his personal Facebook page.

That touched off a battle that resulted in a Hamilton County judge ordering Byron jailed for his Facebook rant – and to post on his page an apology to his wife and all of his Facebook friends or go to jail, something free speech experts found troubling.

Read more here.


March 23, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Happy Newlyweds Ultimately Unhappy Divorcees

From the Huffington Post:

In recent years, there have been several studies that suggest that some happy and satisfied newlyweds were still getting divorced. Paul Amato and Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott's 2007 research is one such example; they found that there was a surprising number low-distress couples that were splitting up.

Read more here.


March 22, 2012 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

NYT Book Review: "The Story of Lawrence v. Texas"

The New York Times recently ran a very interesting book review of "The Story of Lawrence v. Texas" by Dale Carpenter.  Read it here.


March 21, 2012 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Astrue v. Capato (11-159): meaning of "child" in trusts/wills law

From CNN:

Shocking as it may sound, the seemingly endless federal bureaucracy can get confusing, especially when interpreting statutory procedure. When that happens, federal courts -- including the Supreme Court -- by precedent normally give the government the benefit of the doubt, what is called "administrative deference."

That ambiguity was on display Monday in an unusual legal dilemma: Can a child conceived after the death of the biological father be eligible for survivor benefits under Social Security?

The Obama administration thinks not, and a majority of justices -- almost by default -- appeared to agree during a spirited morning of oral arguments.

"You lose if the statute is ambiguous," said Chief Justice John Roberts to the lawyer for the surviving parent. "Is there any reason we shouldn't conclude based on the last hour that it's at least ambiguous?"

Added Justice Elena Kagan: "It's a mess."

At issue is how the court should interpret the word "child" and whether state laws over wills and trusts are adequate to deal with evolving technology for in vitro fertilization.

Read more here.


March 20, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Religious Divorce

From the NYT:

CHICAGO — Before a packed house of 350 men and women at a Jewish educational center, Beverly Siegel suggested three questions that religious Jewish women should ask before divorcing: “Do I get a get? Do I not get a get? Hmm, what kind of get should I get?”

Ms. Siegel, a Chicago filmmaker, was screening her 2011 documentary, “Women Unchained,” about Jewish women whose husbands refuse to give a religious divorce known as a get. Less religious Jews divorce with no thought to the get. But in traditional Judaism, the husband may withhold the divorce. The women are considered agunot, or “chained wives.” A recent survey found that between 2005 and 2010, there were 462 cases of agunot in North America.

Even if she has obtained a civil divorce, a chained wife, or agunah, cannot remarry within the faith. If she does, children from her new marriage carry a stigma forever. In exchange for a get, husbands often demand reduced alimony, favorable child-custody arrangements, even cash payouts.

Read more here.


March 20, 2012 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Facebook Friending Leads to Bigamy Charge

From Reuters:

Facebook's "People You May Know" feature can at times be obnoxious. But other than suggesting high school classmates you never want to see again, it remains pretty harmless, right?

Wrong. Alan O'Neill is probably wishing he never signed up for the social networking service. The Washington state corrections officer faces felony bigamy charges after Facebook suggested his first wife friend his second wife.

He apparently forgot to divorce the first one.

Read more here.


March 19, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Predicting Celebrity Divorce

From the NYT:

In 2006, Garth Sundem and I confronted one of the great unsolved mysteries in social science: Exactly how soon will a given celebrity marriage blow up?

Drawing on Garth’s statistical expertise and my extensive survey of the literature in supermarket checkout lines, we published an equation in The New York Times predicting the probability that a celebrity marriage would endure. The equation’s variables included the relative fame of the husband and wife, their ages, the length of their courtship, their marital history, and the sex-symbol factor (determined by looking at the woman’s first five Google hits and counting how many show her in skimpy attire, or no attire).

Now, with more five years of follow-up data, we can report firm empirical support for the Sundem/Tierney Unified Celebrity Theory.

Read more here.


March 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)