Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Unhappy Couples Scared to Divorce

From the Huffington Post:

What keeps people stuck in unhappy marriages?

According to a recent study by UK law firm Slater & Gordon, the number-one reason unhappy spouses stay together is because they lack the courage to divorce. And of the the 2,000 married people surveyed, a fifth said they felt trapped in their relationship but would not consider a divorce unless financial stability could be guaranteed.

Read more here.


August 17, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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)