Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, August 11, 2012

On Parenting

From the New York Times:

In a typical experiment, Dr. Dweck takes young children into a room and asks them to solve a simple puzzle. Most do so with little difficulty. But then Dr. Dweck tells some, but not all, of the kids how very bright and capable they are. As it turns out, the children who are not told they’re smart are more motivated to tackle increasingly difficult puzzles. They also exhibit higher levels of confidence and show greater overall progress in puzzle-solving.

This may seem counterintuitive, but praising children’s talents and abilities seems to rattle their confidence. Tackling more difficult puzzles carries the risk of losing one’s status as “smart” and deprives kids of the thrill of choosing to work simply for its own sake, regardless of outcomes. Dr. Dweck’s work aligns nicely with that of Dr. Baumrind, who also found that reasonably supporting a child’s autonomy and limiting interference results in better academic and emotional outcomes.


Parents also have to make sure their own lives are fulfilling. There is no parent more vulnerable to the excesses of overparenting than an unhappy parent. One of the most important things we do for our children is to present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for.

Read more here.


August 11, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Divorce Performance Art

From the Washington Post:

At 10 a.m. on Aug. 11, Kathryn Cornelius will wear a white gown and walk toward her betrothed to exchange vows before a crowd of assembled guests. An ordained minister will officiate, then the pair will drink champagne, cut the cake and gaze into each other’s eyes as they dance their first dance. And then they will divorce.

At 11 a.m. she’ll do it all over again with someone new. And at noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and every hour on the hour until she has wed and divorced seven people.

When it’s over, she’ll go home, take off the gown, let the spray tan fade. She will hope that those in attendance might think differently, now, about weddings, marriage, divorce, and the jangled mess of love and loathing in modern America. That they will be jarred into thinking about how easy it is for people to get married and divorced and married again — assuming the government has granted them that right.

Her performance art piece is called “Save the Date.” It will take place at the Corcoran Gallery of Art as part of the museum’s "Take It to the Bridge" series, co-sponsored by the Washington Project for the Arts. “The Bridge” is a 7-foot-by-7-foot plexiglass cube that was recently installed above the Corcoran’s entryway. Artists in the series will use the Bridge as both the space and inspiration for their installations or live performances.

Read more here.   In the comments section of the story, one person notes that this is not new, and that Alix Lambert did the same in 1993 with both men and a woman over the course of a few months.


August 10, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Punished for Child's Chalk Sidewalk Drawing


A Virginia mom has been ordered by a judge to perform community service after allowing her daughter to do chalk drawings in a public park.

Last Tuesday, Susan Mortensen appeared in a Richmond, Va. court and agreed to serve 50 hours of community service by January 3, or return to court for sentencing and possibly a $2500 fine. Some parents have responded with outrage that a treasured childhood pastime could result in legal action.

Read more here.


August 9, 2012 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Latch on NYC"

From Jacoba Urist writing for the Wall Street Journal:

Starting September 3rd, under the "Latch on NYC" initiative, the City will monitor the number of formula bottles hospitals use, by keeping them in the same kind of lock-boxes they use to store medications.

So far, 27 of the New York's 40 hospitals have signed on, agreeing to toss out formula-branded items like lanyards and mugs and to document a medical reason for every bottle a newborn receives— treating formula like a prescription drug.

With each formula bottle a mother requests, she’ll get a lactation lecture about why she should use breast milk instead.

NYU Medical’s spokesperson told The New York Post that they’ve already adopted the program. The Post reports that NYU’s breastfeeding rate has jumped from 39 to 68 percent of new mothers since they implemented it.

Read more here.


August 8, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Australian Custody Battle

From the Australian:

Family law experts yesterday welcomed the decision of the bench to throw out an appeal brought on behalf of four Italian sisters who claimed to have been denied natural justice because they were unable to represent themselves in a battle over their forced return from Queensland to Italy.

The Australian mother of the Italian-born girls, aged between nine and 15, was ordered by the Family Court to return the children to Italy, where she has joint custody with their Italian father. She has appealed that decision in the full court of the Family Court.

Read more here.


August 7, 2012 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Opening Up Adoptions

From the New York Times:

In the United States, the overwhelming majority of birth parents meet and choose their child’s adoptive parents. But most international adoptions are closed, meaning that many international adoptees leave the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency with almost none of the family background that domestic adoptees take for granted. Genetic histories of heart disease, thyroid issues, alcoholism? Gone. So is the grandmother who loved to dance, the uncle who lived for soccer, the family recipes that hitch us to the past.

Our decision to open our daughter’s adoption was possibly reckless and probably naïve. We did it because her foster mother had met Helen and told us she loved her very much. If American women and men deserve to know what becomes of their children, it seemed hypocritical to deny Helen what we saw as a human right.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

August 7, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 6, 2012


The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center on Applied Feminism seeks submissions for its Sixth Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference. This year’s theme is “Applied Feminism and Families.” The conference will be held on March 7 and 8, 2013. For more information about the conference, please visit

This conference seeks to explore how feminist legal theory affects families in the United States and abroad. We are interested in including both family law experts and experts who consider issues facing families from other legal perspectives. Papers might explore the following questions: What have been the accomplishments or shortcomings of feminist legal theory for families? How might feminist legal theory respond to the challenges facing families? What sort of support should society and law provide to families? Does feminist legal theory support state interventions into family life? In what circumstances? How do law and feminist legal theory conceptualize the roles of family members, including mothers, fathers, caretakers, children, and others? How does feminist legal theory help us understand changes in the institution of marriage and family structure? How do the needs of families vary across cultural, economic, religious, and other differences? Are theories of essentialism and intersectionality necessary or helpful in shaping laws that impact families? In what areas outside of family law could or should feminist legal theory be applied to assist families?

This conference will attempt to address these and other questions from the perspectives of activists, practitioners, and academics. The conference will provide an opportunity for participants and audience members to exchange ideas about the current state of feminist legal theories. We hope to deepen our understandings of how feminist legal theory relates to families and to move new insights into practice. In addition, the conference is designed to provide presenters with the opportunity to gain feedback on their papers.

The conference will begin the afternoon of Thursday, March 7, 2013, with a workshop for conference participants. This workshop will continue the annual tradition of involving all attendees as participants in an interactive discussion and reflection. On Friday March 8, 2013, the conference will continue with a day of presentations by legal academics, practitioners and activists regarding current scholarship and/or legal work that explores the application of feminist legal theory to issues involving families. The conference will be open to the public and will feature a keynote speaker. Past keynote speakers have included Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Dr. Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn, and Senator Barbara Mikulski.

To submit a paper proposal, please submit an abstract by 5 p.m. on October 26, 2012, to Professor Michele Gilman at In the subject or "re" line of your submission, you must type: CAF conference submission. It is essential that your abstract contain your full contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address where you can be reached. Abstracts should be no longer than one page. Practitioners’ and activists’ papers need not follow a strictly academic format, but all paper proposals should address the conference theme. We will notify presenters of selected papers in mid-November. We anticipate being able to have twelve paper presenters during the conference on Friday, March 8, 2013. All working drafts of papers will be due no later than February, 15, 2013. All abstracts and drafts will be posted on the Center on Applied Feminism’s conference website to be shared with other participants and attendees.

In addition, the University of Baltimore Law Review has agreed to offer publication to a few of the selected papers presented at the conference for an issue dedicated to the conference proceedings. If you are interested in submitting your abstract for consideration by the UB Law Review, please indicate as such on your abstract submission. To be eligible for publication in the UB Law Review, submissions must not be published elsewhere. Typically, the UB Law Review publishes pieces ranging from 25 to 45 pages in length, using 12 point times new roman font and one inch margins. One volume of the Law Review is dedicated to papers from this annual symposium.

We look forward to your submissions. If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Michele Gilman at

August 6, 2012 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 5, 2012


This volume, edited by Elaine E. Sutherland, was published by Cambridge University Press on August 2, 2012. In it, experts examine child and family law in thirteen countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Israel, Malaysia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Scotland, South Africa and the United States. Each chapter identifies the imperatives and influences that have prevailed to date and offers informed predictions of how it will develop in the years to come. A common chapter structure facilitates comparison of the jurisdictions and in the introduction the editor highlights common trends and salient differences. The Future of Child and Family Law therefore provides practitioners, academics and policy-makers with access not just to an overview of child and family law in a range of countries around the world, but also to insights into what has shaped it and options for reform.

The volume is published in honor of Professor Eric M. Clive, a founder member of the International Society on Family Law, who will be known to many readers of this blog. As a leading academic in the field and Scotland’s longest serving law commissioner, he has been responsible for many of the developments in family law in Scotland over recent decades, but his contribution reaches far beyond a single jurisdiction, not least through his work with the Hague Conference on Private International Law – and, indeed, far beyond familylaw. Eric is currently a visiting professor at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh, and continues to research and write.  

Elaine E. Sutherland is a Professor at Lewis and Clark Law School, Portland, Oregon, and Professor of Child and Family Law at the School of Law, University of Stirling, Scotland.

For further information, see here.


August 5, 2012 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)