Family Law Prof Blog

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

Friday, August 16, 2013

CA Bill on Sperm Donors

From the Los Angeles Times, by law professors Naomi Cahn and June Carbone:

When does a man become a father — the legally recognized parent of a child, responsible for support and eligible for custody? Historically, parenthood has involved something more than simply a biological connection. In some eras that meant the law recognized only fathers who married the mothers. Today, recognition extends to unmarried parents who raise a child together.

The new question on the table is whether it extends to a man who donates sperm to a woman and establishes a relationship with the child. Does he become a father if the child calls him "Daddy," or does it require something more?

This is the issue addressed by SB 115, scheduled for a hearing in the California Assembly this week. The bill is inspired by actor Jason Patric's efforts to obtain custody of Gus, the son born to a former girlfriend through assisted reproduction. State law says a man is not a parent if he donates sperm to a woman other than his wife with the help of a doctor. At the time the law was passed, in vitro fertilization did not exist.

Read more here.


August 16, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lessons from Big Money Divorces

From the New York Times:

If all goes well, we’ll never hear much about Rupert and Wendi Murdoch’s divorce. The News Corporation chief executive and his wife will reach a settlement out of court for his third and her second divorce. If talks break down and the divorce goes to trial, however, we could be in for a round of sensational stories.

Over the years, I’ve tried to avoid writing about big money divorces like this. I’ve just been a bit prudish about something that is at best sad and at worst tragic. I always think of the children. But there is certainly plenty of practical advice to be gleaned from such an emotional issue, which is why lawyers and financial planners should tune in to the salacious gossip.

What little is known — or can be logically assumed — about the Murdoch divorce provides lessons for people with far less money.

There are at least four areas in the Murdoch divorce that other affluent people need to consider if they find themselves served with divorce papers.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

August 15, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Voiding Marriage after Spouse's Death in WI (Part 2)

From Joe Forward for the State Bar of Wisconsin:

Circuit courts can still void marriages after one spouse dies, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled, meaning a petitioner can challenge a surviving spouse’s share of an estate on the grounds that the marriage should be voided.

Read more here, and prior coverage here.


August 14, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Guest Post by Jennifer Smith: What To Do When One Parent Wants to Move Out of State

What To Do When One Parent Wants to Move Out of State

It’s not entirely uncommon for spouses to relocate across state lines after a divorce. After a divorce is finalized, a spouse may no longer wish to reside in that state – far removed from their friends and family. Whatever the reason, this situation gets sticky when there are children involved.

It’s important that both parents are allowed to maintain a relationship with their child, even if they’re not living under the same roof. This relationship becomes even more complicated when there are state lines dividing the family. Parents are urged to work together for the sake of their child, in order to make this situation work.  

Filing for Custody and Child Support

Parents are urged to file in court, before relocating, because it’s easier. When divorce, custody and visitation issues are handled in one jurisdiction, there’s less to be confused about. If parents are amicable about separating, they ought to submit their pleas to the court they both currently reside in.

When two courts are involved in a legal dispute, the dispute can take a lot longer. Not to mention, child support enforcement and custody laws vary state-to-state. The Arizona Department of Economic Security writes:

“When parents live in two different states or countries, cases are often more complex and the timeframes associated with case processing are often longer than when both parents live in the same state. In some cases, the law allows Arizona to act as though both parents live in-state. In other cases the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) must request help from the other state to establish paternity and/or support or to enforce a child support order.  The case then becomes an intergovernmental case.”


If both parents agree a relationship with the child is important, visitation can be worked out amicably. The court may schedule a legal guardian for the child, in order to hear the child’s requests. The court may also apply a mediator to the case, a person who is in charge of helping all parties involved come to a reasonable agreement.

Unfortunately, moving across state lines may mean one parent sees the child less often than they would if the child resided in the same city. This parent will likely have extended visitation over holidays and summer vacation, when the child isn’t in school.

In order for visitation to work out amicably, parents must be willing to put aside their differences and be flexible with one another. Holidays may need to be alternated, so one parent can’t expect to have their child every single Christmas, Thanksgiving or birthday.

Fewer issues will arise when parents are flexible and accommodating. Sometimes, there will be legitimate reasons for a child to visit or stay home. Both parents need to be willing to communicate with positivity.  


Until a child meets the age requirement for flying alone, parents must travel with their kids. Airfare can be expensive, so this cost must be factored into the child support agreement. Both parents should agree on the costs related to travel and how they plan to pay for them. If a joint account is opened for the child to pay for travel fees and other expenses, it’s important that both parents understand their responsibilities to the account and work together to pay the bank fees and interest. 

Because airfare is so expensive, parents are encouraged to search online for a credit card that earns the traveler bonus airline miles and other travel-related rewards. The best airline credit cards can be found by reading sites like this. Plus, the bill can be conveniently split, if the agreement calls for travel expenses to be split equally. 



August 13, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Proving Paternity

From the Balimtore Sun:

While many on the sidewalk snicker at the sight of a mobile DNA testing clinic, some family law experts say the growing availability of such tests raises serious concerns about destabilizing families.

Jane Murphy, a family law professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, said she's seen heart-wrenching cases where children are devastated over the results of a paternity test.

"It's not a joke to them who their father is," she said. In many cases, children had a long-term relationship with a man they believed was their father, only to find out he is not.

Read more here.


August 12, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Update on Baby Girl

From the Associated Press:

The father of a Cherokee Indian girl at the center of an adoption dispute that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court faces arrest because he hasn't turned over his 3-year-old daughter to the South Carolina adoptive parents as ordered by a family court this week.

Dusten Brown faces a charge of custodial interference, according to a statement from the Charleston County Sheriff's Office on Saturday.

Read more here.


August 10, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Social Security & Divorce

See here for navigating social security and divorce.


August 10, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Parents' Divorce Impacts Younger Children


If parents divorce when their children are young, the split can affect how secure these children will feel about their relationship with their parents as adults, new research shows.

“The disruptive consequences of parental divorce on the security of parent-child relationships are more acute when parental divorce takes place early versus later in a child’s life,” said study author R. Chris Fraley, a professor of psychology at the university of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Read more here.


August 9, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Same-Sex Marriage Recognition in Ohio

From Jurist:

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Monday ruled in favor of two men seeking recognition of their out-of-state same-sex marriage. Ohio law prohibits same-sex marriage but recognizes marriages solemnized outside of the state. James Obergefell and his partner, John Arthur, who suffers from a terminal illness, married legally in Maryland earlier this month and returned to Ohio where they have resided for nearly 20 years. Arthur seeks to include Obergefell as his surviving spouse on his death certificate. The parties, accordingly, filed suit requesting that the court preliminarily enjoin enforcement of Ohio's same-sex marriage prohibition. The plaintiffs were required to show, among other things, a substantial likelihood that they would prevail on the merits at trial. The court granted their motion...

Read more here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

August 8, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sperm Donor for Breeding Parties

From the Daily Mail:

A prolific sperm donor who advertised himself for ‘breeding parties’ has been ordered to pay £300,000 after fathering a child with a married client during a fling. 

The man, who claims to have sired 30 children, was ruled the legal parent of a two-year-old boy conceived after an affair. 

His claim that conception was the result of artificial insemination rather than ‘ordinary sex’ was rejected by the court, which heard he used his fertility to get women into bed. 

Read more here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

August 7, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On Edge of Divorce

From Kansas City:

DEAR ABBY: My husband retired, and we thought we were fulfilling our lifetime dream when we moved to the beach, but our dream has turned into a nightmare. Our family never wanted to visit us this often before.

When they come, no one even brings along so much as a bottle of water. My grocery bill has skyrocketed, and I’m sick of playing the role of cook and maid while they have a wonderful time.

I’m ready to move back to our hometown. At least there I had a life besides cooking and cleaning. My husband wants to live here because it’s his dream, but I can’t take another year of this. The workload is killing me.

I have been a fool for putting up with everyone having a carefree vacation at my expense. I’m so angry, I’m ready to leave my husband with his dream. The last three years have been hell. When friends and family ask why I left, should I tell them or keep my mouth shut and build a peaceful life by myself?

— Running for My Life

Read the advice here.


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August 6, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Chinese Law for Elderly

From Voice of America:

A new law in China requires adults to provide mental and financial support for their elderly parents, or face fines and other penalties. The regulation entered into force earlier this month, adding new burdens on a generation of urban single children who struggle to live up to traditional standards of filial piety.
Chinese families used to live three generations under one roof, but mounting work pressure is scattering members into different directions. With the need to find jobs, pursue careers and gain financial independence, many young people leave home. Older parents frequently are left behind.

Read more, and see the video, here.


August 5, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

First Family Law-Only Courthouse in CA

From NBC:

Ribbons were cut and shovels dug in on Tuesday to announce the construction of a new Santa Clara Family Justice Center courthouse, the first new courthouse in the state totally devoted to family law.

The court’s new building at 201 N. First Street in San Jose will consolidate all family law operations and related services, which are now far flung in six obsolete facilities throughout the city, into a single centrally located building.

Court spokesman Joe Macaluso said this will "significantly" improve access and service to the public.

Read more here.


August 3, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 2, 2013

TN Family Law

Read Knoxville attorneys' take on recent changes in Tennessee family law and those still needed here.


August 2, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Parental Alienation

From the National Law Review:

Parental alienation is a type of abuse by one parent who “programs” the child or children of the marriage to denigrate or “target” the other parent in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child’s relationship with that parent.  This syndrome is often a sign of the offending parent’s inability to separate from the couple’s conflict and focus on the child’s needs.  Rather, the offending parent uses the children in his or her war against the other parent.

Read more here.


August 1, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)