May 5, 2012
Predictors of Divorce
From the Atlantic:
Given the fact that a good number of marriages still end in divorce, understanding what factors are linked to divorce might actually help us predict it. And if these connections were understood early enough in the relationship - so that the skills needed to resolve the issues could be acquired in time - this might help avoid some divorces all together.
In a new study, the researchers followed 136 married couples who all reported being very satisfied in the first four years of their marriages. They questioned each spouse periodically over a period of 10 years, asking them to rate statements about marriage satisfaction, level of commitment, personality traits, stress levels, problem solving abilities, and how supportive they were with their partners. Some skills and traits were rated by the researchers, as the couples discussed relationship difficulties in the lab.
Read the results here.
May 3, 2012
Sperm Donations in Victoria
PEOPLE conceived by sperm donation have different rights when it comes to accessing information about their biological parent — it all depends on the date of donation. People conceived from gametes donated after 1998 have a right to access information about donors. Donations between 1988 and 1997 allow access only with donor consent, while donations before 1988 carry no right of access. The Victorian Law Reform Committee recently urged the government to reconcile the differences. Deakin University expert in donor conception Sonia Allan — now in the US as a global health law fellow at Georgetown University — welcomes that committee's report.
Read more, and see the committee's recommendations, here.
Hasday: "Siblings in Law'
Legal regulation of the family focuses on two canonical relationships: marriage and parenthood. Courts, legislatures, and scholars routinely take family law’s concentration on just two family ties to be so commonsensical as to require no explicit discussion or explanation. Yet marriage and parenthood are not the only family relationships that can be central to family life. Family law’s reflexive orientation around marriage and parenthood diverts attention and scrutiny from considering how the law should regulate and protect other family ties. For instance, the sibling relationship is a crucial, yet noncanonical family tie. Family law views children almost exclusively through the lens of children’s relationships with their parents, rather than the lens of children’s relationships with their siblings. The law offers siblings only modest and sporadic protection, too often permitting adoption and parental divorce or death to separate siblings and sometimes leave them with no right to contact each other or even learn of each other’s existence. But siblings can be vital sources of support, love, nurturing, and stability for children, and family law could and should do much more to safeguard sibling ties when they are threatened. This essay uses the example of sibling relationships, which have received remarkably little legal attention, to explore the law’s treatment of noncanonical family relationships and to consider some of the reform possibilities that emerge when we free ourselves from the assumption that family law should focus narrowly on marriage and parenthood.
May 2, 2012
Germany Anti-Incest Law Held Up By European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights has upheld Germany’s anti-incest laws and has affirmed the sentence of a man sent to prison for fathering children with his sister.
The Court concluded that the human rights of Patrick Stuebing were not violated when he was sent to jail for three years in 2005 for his sexual affair with his allegedly psychologically troubled sister Susan Karolewski, whom he had met as an adult after being adopted in early childhood.
The Court cited several justifications for the law’s existence, including “protection of the family” and “self-determination and public health,” which are “set against the background of a common conviction that incest should be subject to criminal liability.”
Read more here.
May 1, 2012
Divorce Legal Aid Cuts in England
From the Guardian:
Cash-strapped spouses who want to split from their well-off other halves could find themselves seriously out of pocket because of impending changes to the availability of legal aid.
Sir Nicholas Wall, the most senior family judge in England and Wales, is predicting "a substantial increase" in the numbers of people ending up in the family courts without lawyers or any proper advice as a result of proposals included in the legal aid, punishment and sentencing of offenders bill. It is set to come into force in April 2013.
Read more here.
April 30, 2012
David Brooks writes in the New York Times:
First, students have to jump through ever-more demanding, preassigned academic hoops. Instead of developing a passion for one subject, they’re rewarded for becoming professional students, getting great grades across all subjects, regardless of their intrinsic interests. Instead of wandering across strange domains, they have to prudentially apportion their time, making productive use of each hour.
Then they move into a ranking system in which the most competitive college, program and employment opportunity is deemed to be the best. There is a status funnel pointing to the most competitive colleges and banks and companies, regardless of their appropriateness.
Then they move into businesses in which the main point is to beat the competition, in which the competitive juices take control and gradually obliterate other goals. I see this in politics all the time. Candidates enter politics wanting to be authentic and change things. But once the candidates enter the campaign, they stop focusing on how to be change-agents. They and their staff spend all their time focusing on beating the other guy. They hone the skills of one-upsmanship. They get engulfed in a tit-for-tat competition to win the news cycle. Instead of being new and authentic, they become artificial mirror opposites of their opponents. Instead of providing the value voters want — change — they become canned tacticians, hoping to eke out a slight win over the other side.
Competition has trumped value-creation. In this and other ways, the competitive arena undermines innovation.
Read more here.