Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

South Africa Mourns Winnie Mandela

From Human Rights Watch:

South Africans will gather tomorrow for the burial of Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela, an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle known by millions as the “Mother of the Nation.”

Winnie Mandela, who died on April 2 aged 81, will be given a national funeral.

South Africans, and people around the world, remember Winnie Mandela for her immense contribution to the struggle against apartheid and her campaign for the release of her former husband, Nelson Mandela. More than almost any other anti-apartheid activist, Winnie Mandela angered the apartheid regime and they victimized her in unimaginable ways: torture, solitary confinement, banishment, and separation her from her young children whose father had already been torn from them. President Cyril Ramaphosa said Winnie Mandela “bore the brunt of the senseless brutality of the apartheid state with stoicism and fortitude.”

Read more here.

April 21, 2018 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Why The #MeToo Movement Skipped Russia

From Business Insider:

When Russia decriminalized domestic violence in February 2017, civil servants tasked with protecting women in the country's far east were dismayed by the new vulnerability of their wards. Yet few officials opposed the measure. President Vladimir Putin signed off on the bill after the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, overwhelmingly approved it by a vote of 380 to 3. The new law recategorized the crime of violence against family members: Abuse that does not result in broken bones, and does not occur more than once a year, is no longer punishable by long prison sentences. The worst sanctions that abusers now face are fines of up to $530, 10- to 15-day stints in jail, or community service work. That's if the courts side with the victim. They rarely do.

The change made it "that much harder for women" who had suffered abuse, says Natalia Pankova, the director of a state-run domestic violence organization called Sail of Hope. Pankova, based in the city of Vladivostok, oversees 10 crisis centers for women and children across the surrounding region, Primorye, a heavily forested area hugging the Sea of Japan.

Read more here.

April 20, 2018 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Syrian Refugees Leaving Germany Over Family Reunification Policy

From Deutsche Welle:

Syrians granted limited asylum but denied the right to fetch relatives are departing Germany for Turkey by using smugglers, say German media. The cases, if confirmed, bizarrely reverse the "Balkan route" drama of 2015.

Thousands of Syrian refugees are attempting to leave Germany despite being legally entitled to stay, according to a report to be aired Thursday on German public broadcaster ARD. 

Stuck in Germany without close relatives because of Berlin's all but refusal to allow family reunions, the refugees were said to be using traffickers to reach their families in Turkey, saying "we'd rather die together than live apart."

Read more here.

April 18, 2018 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bitcoin and Divorce

From Schiller, DuCanto, & Fleck, LLP:

In Illinois, incident to resolving a divorce case, all assets and liabilities are required to be identified, valued, and allocated between the parties equitably. Although often resulting in a 50/50 division of marital assets, “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.” Prior to either reaching an agreed upon division of assets, or proceeding to trial on the issues of property division, all assets must first be identified and then where possible, valued. With the rise of the digital age, issues of valuation have expanded to the world of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Valuation, however, is not the only issue involving bitcoin and divorce. Today, divorcing parties and their attorneys must be diligent in approaching bitcoin (and all other cryptocurrencies for that matter) during divorce.

While identification of the existence of bitcoin or other cryptocurrency is the starting place, one must first understand what bitcoin is. Bitcoin is an electronic currency that allows users to transfer funds directly to one another through a peer-to-peer system without the need for a middle man, like a bank or Western Union. As set forth in the Wall Street Journal, “Bitcoin, despite its name, isn’t money. It does not have governmental backing. According to the Journal, its extreme price volatility significantly diminishes its usefulness as a reliable unit of account or effective means of payments. Bitcoin might, however, serve as a sustainable store of value, like gold.”

Read more here.

 

April 17, 2018 in Current Affairs, Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Seventh Circuit Holds ERISA Does Not Preempt Slayer Statute

From JD Supra, Holland & Knight:

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA), pre-empts most state laws. However, there are certain types of state laws that are not pre-empted. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Laborers' Pension Fund v. Miscevic, 880 F.3d 927 (7th Cir. 2018), held that the Illinois slayer statute is one of those state statutes that is not pre-empted by ERISA. A slayer statute is a law that prevents an heir from receiving assets or other property from a decedent if that heir is responsible for the decedent's death.

In this case, a woman killed her husband. The husband was a participant in a union pension plan that provided survivor benefits to a surviving spouse or, if there were no surviving spouse, to a minor child. There was no dispute as to the facts. In a state criminal proceeding, the woman was found to be not guilty of killing her husband by reason of insanity. Her husband's pension fund, The Laborers' Pension Fund (the Fund), brought an interpleader action to determine the proper beneficiary of the husband's pension benefits because the couple had a minor child.

Read more here.

April 16, 2018 in Attorneys, Current Affairs, Domestic Violence, Jurisdiction, Property Division | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

U.S. Government Ordered To Allow Abortion Access To Detained Immigrant Teens

From The Washington Post:

A federal judge issued a nationwide order temporarily preventing the government from blocking access to abortion services and counseling for teens detained in immigration custody, saying current administration policy and practices probably are unconstitutional.

The order came in a case brought last fall on behalf of a Central American girl in a ­government-funded shelter that set off a national debate over the constitutional rights of such undocumented teens to terminate their pregnancies.

The late Friday ruling, by U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of Washington, allowed the case to proceed as a class action on behalf of any other teens who have crossed the border illegally and while in federal custody may want to seek abortion services. In filings, the U.S. government acknowledged there were at least 420 pregnant unaccompanied minors in custody in 2017, including 18 who requested abortions.

Read more here.

April 8, 2018 in Abortion, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 7, 2018

U.S. Ends Presumed Freedom For Pregnant Immigrants

From Reuters:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration said on Thursday it would no longer presume that many pregnant women detained by immigration authorities should be released from custody, reversing an Obama-era directive.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will make a case by case determination under the new policy. Women in their third trimester will still be released as before, said Philip Miller, an ICE deputy executive associate director.

“Just like there are men who commit heinous acts violent acts, so too have we had women in custody that commit heinous acts,” Miller told reporters on Thursday.

Read more here.

April 7, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Supreme Court of India Seeks to Empower Widows

From India.com:

New Delhi [India], Mar. 27 (ANI): In a bid to improve the livelihood of widows and destitute women in Mathura and Vrindavan, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed temples in the two cities to donate all flowers offered to them to shelter homes.

By doing so, the top court said women in these shelter homes run by the Uttar Pradesh government can use the flowers to make perfumes, incense sticks (agarbattis) and so on, thereby providing a means of livelihood for them.

The Supreme Court further sought consideration from the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) to extend this scheme to all major temple towns such as Varanasi, Tirupati, and others, keeping in mind the welfare of widows and destitute women.

Read more here.

April 6, 2018 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Restrictive US Health Funding Rule Threatens Lives

From Human Rights Watch:

Before embarking on a five-nation tour of Africa this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the link between women’s health and economic and social development as he lauded Washington’s massive global health fund, PEPFAR, for how it had “transformed the global HIV/AIDS response,” saying that “ … nowhere is this more evident than in Africa.”

As the largest global donor on global health, the US has supported many programs that help people get healthcare in some of Africa’s poorest countries. But President Donald Trump has also expanded the “Global Gag Rule” beyond any previous US administration – which threatens to undermine decades of progress on women’s health and undermine gender equality.

On his first working day in office, Trump reinstated and dramatically expanded the Mexico City Policy – also known as the “Global Gag Rule,” which conditions US funding for global health programs on a commitment from foreign nongovernmental organizations that they will not promote or provide abortions, even with non-US funds, except in cases of rape, incest or to save a woman’s life.

Read more here.

March 19, 2018 in Abortion, Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

First Amendment Defense Act Permits Discrimination

From Human Rights Campaign:

HRC responded to a bill introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), called the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA), which seeks to permit discrimination by individuals, many businesses, and non-profit organizations against same-sex couples, single parents and unmarried couples:

The bill, cosponsored by 21 Senate Republicans, would bar the federal government from ameliorating discrimination against same-sex couples, single parents, and unmarried couples when an entity evokes a sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction. Under FADA, individuals, many businesses and non-profit organizations using taxpayer funds could openly violate non-discrimination policies or refuse to serve same-sex couples. As long as they claimed their actions are based on their belief about marriage, the government would have little recourse.

"The First Amendment Defense Act is harmful legislation that would legalize state-sanctioned discrimination and undermine key civil rights protections for LGBTQ people,” said David Stacy, HRC Government Affairs Director. “Supporters of this legislation are using religious liberty as a sword to hurt LGBTQ families rather than staying true to our long tradition of it serving as a shield to protect religious expression from government overreach."

Read more here.

March 17, 2018 in Current Affairs, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Who Gets Embryos In Divorce?

From AZ Today (part of the USA Today Network):

State law may soon dictate who has the right to their own frozen embryos, regardless of what the potential parents think.

In cases of divorce, Senate Bill 1393 would require courts to give frozen embryos to the spouse who "intends to allow the embryos to develop to birth."

If both adults want to use the embryos to have a baby, the court would have to give them to the one who "provides the best chance" of successfully doing so.

The bill, which has passed the Senate and now just needs a final vote in the House before going to the governor, would override any agreements or contracts that the couple previously had on the matter, and would ignore either person's current objections or concerns. 

Read more here.

March 13, 2018 in Alternative Reproduction, Current Affairs, Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Teens Fleeing Polygamist Communities Could Get More Legal Protection

From TIME:

Teenagers fleeing polygamous communities would get more legal protection from parents who could expose them to sexual abuse or forced marriage under a proposal approved Friday by a panel of Utah lawmakers.

If teenagers run away from home, anyone they run to must inform their parents within eight hours, said Rep. Walt Brooks said Friday. In some cases, that’s allowed adults to take teenagers back to polygamous communities even when they did not want to return.

“We’re a family friendly state, so we want them to be with families, but not if the family is going to hurt them,” said Brooks, a Republican from St. George, located near a well-known polygamous community on the Utah-Arizona state line.

Read more here.

March 11, 2018 in Current Affairs, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 9, 2018

State Dept Erases Reproductive Rights Section From Annual Report

From The Huffington Post:

 

President Donald Trump's State Department has been ordered to strip language about women’s reproductive rights from its annual global human rights report, Politico reported on Thursday.

The report, compiled each year with information from U.S. embassies around the world, typically details the lack of contraception and abortion access in various countries and sheds light on racial and sexual discrimination.

This year, a senior aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reportedly directed the department to remove much of that information from the document. The new report will focus instead on forced sterilization and abortions, and the “Reproductive Rights” subsection in the report will be renamed “Coercion in Population Control.”

Read more here

March 9, 2018 in Abortion, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

DHS Separating Families At Border To Curb Illegal Immigration

From NPR:

The Department of Homeland Security has undertaken its most extreme measure yet to discourage asylum seekers from coming to the U.S. — family separation.

A 39-year-old mother is named as Ms. L in a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by the American Civil Liberties Union. Ms. L traveled with her 7-year-old daughter, named as S.S., from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Mexico. They surrendered to immigration agents at the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego in December and asked for asylum. They said they were fleeing violence in DRC.

The mother is being held in the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, Calif. by Immigration and Customs Enforcement; her daughter is 2,000 miles away at a youth shelter in Chicago run by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. They are only able to speak by phone.

Read more here.

March 7, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

FMLA Turns 25

From The National Law Review:

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is celebrating its 25thanniversary this month. On February 5, 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the FMLA into law guaranteeing certain employees up to 12 unpaid weeks off of work a year to care for children or ill family members, or to recover from one’s own serious health condition. During the time off, an employee’s medical benefits would remain intact.

When initially passed, the statute’s purpose was to address the rising number of American households with working parents who were concerned about losing their jobs when taking time off to care for a child or a sick family member. It was also meant to allow people who had serious health conditions to  remain employed when taking time off work for temporary periods.

Since that time, the FMLA has become a source of contention for employers and employees alike. Employers often feel overburdened by the paperwork’s technical requirements, the ever-increasing threat of litigation, and the costs of complying with the statute.  Employees and workers’ rights groups are concerned about the FMLA’s lack of coverage for part-time and small-business workers and the narrow definition of family.  Either way you slice it, the FMLA is due for a revamp, but are the Trump administration’s budget proposal and tax cuts pushing the FMLA in the right direction?

Read more here.

March 6, 2018 in Attorneys, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Iranian Women Breaking Their Silence

From CNN:

The bravery of the women recently protesting in Iran stiffened my resolve to participate in the 2018 Women's March in Los Angeles. As a decadelong advocate for women, I felt compelled to use my freedom of expression to demand theirs. Though I walked alongside people of diverse political persuasions, I felt empowered by a common purpose -- a world in which the rights of women and girls are protected and respected.

While I was encouraged by the numerous signs supporting women, I was disheartened that in this time of female solidarity we were largely ignorant of our counterparts in Iran, who just weeks prior to our march had risked arrest or worse to take to the streets and demand their inalienable rights.
 
On December 27, 2017, a brave Iranian woman named Vida Movahedi, a 31-year-old mother, stood peacefully on a box in the middle of a busy Tehran sidewalk, and silently waved her government-mandated veil from the end of a stick. This basic freedom that women take for granted in nearly every country in the world -- to feel the wind on our bare heads -- is illegal in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
 
Read more here.

February 24, 2018 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Podcast on 7th Circuit Marriage Cases

Here is a Bloomberg Radio podcast with Margaret Ryznar on the 7th Circut same-sex marriage cases.

September 5, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Call for Papers

Download Call for Papers here (Friday, September 19th Deadline) for the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network at the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting.

MR

August 28, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Girls Don't Cause Divorce

From Slate:

For years, researchers have observed a correlation between U.S. couples with daughters and their likelihood of divorce, which tends to be somewhat higher than for couples with sons. In both academic circles and in popular culture, this trend wasn’t simply considered a positive association, but a clear causal relationship: a notable portion of research held that daughters were actually the ones causing divorces, because fathers prefer boys and only want to stay married to women who give birth to them. But thanks to a new study on the roots of relationship conflict, this belief — which now seems not only reductive, but also blatantly sexist — might start to recede from view.

According to a study published in the journal Demography on Wednesday, the association between divorce rates and daughters might actually have less to do with what happens in a female child’s lifetime and more to do with what happens before birth. Researchers Amar Hamoudi and Jenna Nobles posit that because female embryos tend to be hardier than male embryos, daughters are more likely to come of relationships that are already in some sort of turmoil during pregnancy. Sons, on the contrary, would be less likely to be born into such relationships, because male embryos do not have the same robustness as their female counterparts.

Read more here.

MR

August 5, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Parental Autonomy

From the Atlantic:

In South Carolina, a 46-year-old black woman has been arrested for letting her daughter play in a nearby park while trying to earn a living. "The mother, Debra Harrell, has been booked for unlawful conduct towards a child," a local TV station reports. "The incident report goes into great detail, even saying the mother confessed to leaving her nine-year-old daughter at a park while she went to work."

Read more here.

MR

July 31, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)