Tuesday, September 13, 2016
From Jeanne M. Hannah writing for Updates in Family Law:
Melissa Kucinski, an American Bar Association colleague who practices in Washington, D.C., advises today that on this day, August 30, 2016, President Obama signed the instrument of ratification for the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
The official statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price on The Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance may be read at this link. While the United States has child support enforcement well in hand, the same has not been true in other countries. This Convention is intended to remedy non-support cases where the payer of support resides in a foreign country and fails to provide court-ordered child support. The Convention's purpose is to assist custodial parents in enforcement proceedings in their state courts for collection of financial support due from parents residing outside of the United States.
Read more here.
Saturday, September 10, 2016
From The Guardian:
Police have been called to Jeremy Corbyn’s north London home, where two men are staging a protest on his roof.
The pair, from New Fathers for Justice, climbed onto the Labour leader’s house in Islington just after 10am and are refusing to move until he talks to them.
Police cordoned off the street as a large crowd gathered to watch the protest, which comes weeks after a similar demonstration on the roof od Labour MP Angela Eagle's office.
One of the protesters, Bobby Smith, told LBC radio he would not come down until Corbyn listened to their complaints about fathers’ rights.
Read more here.
Friday, September 2, 2016
From The Washington Post:
LUYI COUNTY, CHINA — In a courtroom in the Chinese heartland, a defense attorney made his final pitch.
That his client, Zhang Yazhou, killed his wife was not in question. At 5:25 in the evening on Feb. 21, Zhang walked into his wife’s hospital room. They argued. He strangled her, digging his fingers deep into the flesh of her neck.
By the time nurses entered the room, Zhang was gone and Li Hongxia, just 24, was dead.
Since Zhang confessed on television and in court, the issue at hand was the sentence. Li’s family and their lawyer asked for the death penalty, which is common in China, describing a year of escalating abuse that culminated in a brutal murder.
Read more here.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
From the National Post:
Gender norms remain a constant for political spouses despite the difference in their daily lives from the average citizen. Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is being criticized because his wife needs the assistance of staffers to help manage the daily needs of their young children. Canadian citizens do not want to pay for additional staffers. Furthermore, some of the Canadian public see Sophie Gregoire Trudeau's role as that of a stay-at-home mother and feel that she should be able to handle her children by herself.
Read more here.
Monday, May 16, 2016
From CBS News:
Daljinder Kaur, approximately 70 years old, gave birth to a healthy son on April 19. She underwent two years of unsuccessful IVF treatments earlier in her life. She became pregnant with the help of the National Fertility and Test Tube Baby Centre in Haryana, India. Just two years ago, Rajo Devi gave birth at the age of 70, again with help from the same clinic.
The birth of Daljinder Kaur's child creates a discussion on the bioethics of IVF, maternal health, child safety, and cultural parenting norms.
Read more here.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
From The Wall Street Journal:
Japan’s Supreme Court upheld a law dating to the 19th century that requires married couples to have the same surname, rejecting an argument by three women and a married couple that it violates their rights.
The case has drawn wide attention in Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has advocated the advancement of women at companies and government agencies. Wednesday’s ruling means that women who keep using their maiden names in professional situations must continue to cope with extra paperwork and other hassles because their legal names are different.
Japan is one of the few countries that requires married couples to pick either the husband’s or wife’s surname. A United Nations body that seeks to eliminate gender discrimination has repeatedly asked the country to revise its law, but efforts to do so in parliament haven’t gotten far.
“I can’t hold back my tears, I am saddened,” Kyoko Tsukamoto, one of the plaintiffs, said at a news conference following the ruling. “I won’t be able to die as Kyoko Tsukamoto.”
On its face, the law is gender-neutral because a husband could take the surname of his wife. In practice, however, about 96% of couples choose the husband’s surname, according to court papers.
The Supreme Court, upholding lower-court rulings, said the practice of requiring a single surname was well-established in Japan. “We can discern a rational basis for stipulating a single appellation for a family,” the court said.
Read more here.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
The Court of Appeal has today handed down an important judgment which makes it clear that there is no reason to differentiate between cases of internal child relocation (within the UK) and those of external or international relocation (outside the UK). In this case of Re C (Internal Relocation), child relocation specialist Anna Worwood of Penningtons Manches LLP acted for the appellant father (instructing Charles Hale QC). The father's appeal generated a necessary consideration of the proper principles to be applied in cases involving internal relocation, including full submissions made by the intervenors, the International Centre for Family Law, Policy and Practice.
The judgment explains that it is the welfare principle in section 1(1) of the Children Act 1989 which should dictate the result in internal relocation cases as it is now clear it does in external relocation cases. The 'exceptionality test', namely that a parent seeking to relocate within the UK should only be prevented from relocating in exceptional circumstances, should not have been taken to be binding legal principle. Lady Justice Black, giving the leading judgment, concluded her analysis of the law by saying: “All in all … matters should be approached as an analysis of the best interests of the child, whether the relocation is internal or external.”
Importantly, the comments made by Lord Justice McFarlane in the recent Court of Appeal decision ofRe F (International Relocation Cases)  Civ 882, were echoed by Lord Justice Vos who held that the application of the welfare principle involves a holistic balancing exercise; whilst the Payne factors may still be of some utility, they are no part of the applicable principle.
Read more here.
Monday, September 28, 2015
A new website aims to take much of the heartache and cost out of getting a divorce by conducting the whole process online.
Presented at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco on Tuesday, Separate.us, founded by Sandro Tuzzo and Larry Maloney, aims to distill legal jargon into plain language and reduce legal fees from tens of thousands of dollars to base price of around $1,500. Initial filing costs just $99.
“Today, connecting is easy. There’s tons of software applications out there for that,” Tuzzo said onstage at the event. “But what if you need to end a relationship, where are the tools for that?”
After working as a divorce attorney for the past 15 years, Tuzzo said he knows too well just how arduous the process can be. Separate.us aims to simplify the procedure by letting users complete, file and serve divorce papers online.
Read more here.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Karin Carmit Yefit has published What's the Constitution Got to Do with It? Regulating Marriage in Pakistan, 16 Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy 347 (2009). Read the full article here. Here is an excerpt from the introduction:
Pakistan’s legal regime, particularly the status of its women, is the subject of considerable academic and media interest both domestically and internationally. The legal plight of Pakistani women is well documented, and virtually all accounts stress the brutality with which their rights are violated. They are portrayed as subject to a legal system that allows them to be veiled,secluded, silenced, harassed, mutilated, forced into prostitution, beaten, raped, murdered, and otherwise humiliated. This study, however, seeks to unravel for the first time a different and surprising picture of the marital rights of Pakistani women and the protection afforded them by the Constitution. While the legal literature is replete with discussions of both marriage law and constitutional law, the interplay between the two within the context of Islam seems to have largely escaped scholarly attention. This article seeks to fill this gap; it explores the actual and potential intersections of Pakistan’s Constitution with legal regulation of marital love, and reveals the uniqueness of this system and its striking sensitivity to women’s rights . . . Ultimately the article concludes, the exemplary Pakistani regime may potentially serve as an illuminating model for the productive and complementary utilization of Islam and constitutional jurisprudence in the regulation of a marriage law respectful of human rights.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Just what America needs?
The city of romance got a lesson in love's hard knocks Sunday, as thousands flocked to the French capital's first divorce fair. The "New Start" trade fair aimed to tap into [a] booming market by bringing together 60 stands offering up both services obviously related to separation — law firms and counselors — and also more obscure disciplines aimed at helping people get back on their feet, like tarot card readers, makeover specialists and self-esteem coaches.
Conferences held throughout the two-day-long fair included talks entitled "Plastic surgery's role in re-conquering your image" and "How to re-seduce your partner using the Gestalt method," as well as "Meeting on the Web" and "Separation: What does a lawyer do?"
"We have long had the Marriage Fair," a massive annual trade fair in Paris catering to brides-to-be, "and I thought, 'why not a fair for people going through separations?,'" said Gaumet, adding that some 4,000 people visited the event over the weekend. "That's a real success for a first-time exhibition."
At the fair, held at a conference hall in northwestern Paris, the stands offering legal advice attracted the biggest crowds.
Read the full story here.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Earlier, we noted here the financial incentives given to teenagers in North Carolina not to procreate. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Japanese government is incentivizing women to get pregnant as the country continues experiencing low birth rates. From the Wall Street Journal:
Japan's new leaders propose offering new parents monthly payments totaling about $3,300 a year for every new child until the age of 15. Other initiatives include more state-supported day care, tuition waivers and other efforts designed to make parenthood more appealing.
Of course, as the article points out:
But experts warn money alone does not a baby make. Governments have a mixed record in pushing up birth rates, as economic inducements sometimes fail to overcome other complex societal forces that affect baby-making decisions.
In Japan, they include the traditional reliance on mothers to perform the bulk of duties in the home, including child-rearing. Demographers say Japan might have more success if they also encourage more Japanese men to come home and do the dishes.
Finally, as I argued in one of my own articles, tax laws indeed have influence on family-planning:
On the policy front, Japanese tax laws encourage single-income families with a tax deduction that keeps many mothers at home. That slows the development of family-friendly corporate policies and social acceptance of working mothers.
Bottom-line: there are many modern influences making it difficult for young people to begin families, and overcoming them requires a multi-faceted approach. It will be interesting to see which Japanese initiatives will most ease the burdens of parenthood to make it more attractive.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The New York Times reports today on the legal struggles faced by immigrants caught up in enforcement raids, who then face a loss of custody of their children. As the article characterizes the problem, "crackdowns against illegal immigrants thrust local courts into transnational custody battles and leave thousands of children in limbo." The article reports on several current cases before the courts including a case currently before the Nebraska Supreme Court in which a mother had her parental rights terminated to her child after she was detained pending deportation.
To learn more about the issue, see "Creating Crisis: Immigration Raids and the Destabilization of Immigrant Families", 43 Wake Forest L. Rev. 391 (2008) by Professor David B. Thronson of UNLV Law. The article is available at SSRN. (bgf)
Friday, September 26, 2008
From The Washington Post:
The debate over virginity testing is an example of the clash common throughout Africa as governments try to regulate traditional practices that have long held sway, particularly in rural areas. Legal experts say the topic is particularly complex in post-apartheid South Africa, where patriarchal tribal cultures have dusted off long-stifled traditions under one of the world's most progressive constitutions, which lauds diversity but requires cultural customs to bend to individual rights.
Read the rest of the article here. (RR last visited September 26, 2008).
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Case Law Development: Phillipines Supreme Court finds husband's homosexuality insufficient to declare marriage void
The Phillipines Supreme Court's 3rd Division, in a twenty page decision, reversed a lower court's ruling declaring an eleven year opposite-sex marriage void because of the husband's homosexuality. The Supreme Court found the trial court erred by only considering the husband's alleged homosexuality rather than requiring proof that the husband concealed his sexual identity from the wife at the time of the marriage.
A report of the case in a Phillipines newspaper is available here (RR last visited August 30, 2008)
Saturday, August 16, 2008
A recent ninth circuit court of appeals opinion describes nicely the process by which immigrants can become eligible for lawful permanent residence based on marriage. Faculty may find it a useful outline to give to students interested in this aspect of family law.
The case involved a Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) decision that denied a Russian immigrant her application for adjustment of status to conditional permanent alien and ordered her deported. The applicant had come to the US in 1998 on a K visa as the fiancée of U.S. citizen. The couple were married in February 1999 and soon thereafter the applicant filed an application to adjust her status to that of a lawful permanent resident. Two years later, she and her husband divorced, while she was still waiting to have an interview with the Immigration and Naturalization Service on her application. The INS subsequently denied her application because of her divorce and the BIA affirmed this decision, finding that the language “as a result of the marriage of the nonimmigrant” in the Immigration and Naturalization Act § 245(d) required that the applicant remain married during the entire period of her application. The court of appeals reversed, finding the phrase meant only that the adjustment of status could be based only on the marriage to the the original spouse-sponsor, not on any other basis; Thus the court held that "The purpose and context of § 245(d) also do not support the government’s reading of the statute that requires the automatic removal of immigrants whose marriages end in divorce while their application for adjustment of status languishes in the agency’s file cabinet."
Choin v. Mukasey, (U.S. 9th Cir. Ct. App., August 12, 2008)
Read the opinion online (Last visited August 15, 2008 bgf)
Thursday, January 25, 2007
The EU must streamline family law across member states' borders, United Kingdom constitutional affairs minister Harriet Harman has said. Speaking in Brussels, Ms Harman said closer co-operation between the EU's legal systems is vital. Almost one in five divorces in Europe now involves couples who come from different countries. Ms Harman urged the EU Commission to propose rules which could work despite differences in countries' legal codes. She said it was important "not just for couples living in separate countries, but above all for their children".
Ms Harman wants see the system streamlined to ease the trauma of divorce for all those involved.
Read the BBC's Report on her recommendations. (last visited January 24, 2007 bgf)
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The United States is in the final stages of implementing new, federal-level standards in light of the anticipated U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions. The Convention was discussed at a November 14 hearing before the House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations. The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is a formal international agreement designed to ensure transparency in adoptions to prevent trafficking, kidnapping, smuggling and baby-selling. The United States has signed the convention and is moving toward formal ratification in 2007. The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA) is the implementing mechanism established to carry out the functions required under the convention. The IAA was enacted into law on October 6, 2000. A regulatory framework currently is being put in place to comply with the provisions of both the convention and the IAA to move the United States toward formal ratification.
Read the Department of State press release on the testimony before the committee or check out the State Department's website on the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions (last visited November 15, 2006 bgf)
Friday, November 3, 2006
Case Law Development: UCCJEA Prohibits Court From Altering Custody of Foreign Decrees, Even in Relocation Cases
A second move-away case from the California Court of Appeals this past week involved the application fo the UCCJEA to enforcement of a French custody decree. The French decree gave custody of the child to mother, visitation rights to father, and enjoined mother from moving away with the child. However, mother did move with the couple's 14-year-old child from Fance to California, resulting in this action by father, requesting return of the child. The trial court ordered that the child be returned to France or else the father would obtain sole legal and physical custody. The court of appeals reversed, holding that as it violated the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act by changing custody, and by ordering that the mother not move away with the child.
The court of appeals reversed, holding:
We agree that the trial court violated the UCCJEA by changing custody. We also
agree that the UCCJEA required limited enforcement of the visitation schedule but
prohibited the trial court from enforcing the other aspects of the visitation award,
including the order that [Mother] not move away with [Child]. This not only follows from
the language of the UCCJEA, but also avoids any conflict between enforcing custody and
enforcing visitation. Thus, we accord comity to the French decree to the extent -- but
only to the extent -- that the UCCJEA requires.... The trial court ... had no jurisdiction to enforce any visitation provisions other than the visitation schedule. If [Father] came to California, the trial court could have required [Child] to visit him according
to the schedule. It erred, however, by requiring that [Child] be returned to France.
Marriage of Paillier, (October 31, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited November 3, 2006 bgf)
Monday, October 30, 2006
Case Law Development: Reckless Domestic Violence Assault not a Categorical Crime of Violence for Purposes of Immigration Law
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had to decide whether a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction under Arizona statutes constituted a "crime of domestic violence" under federal law subjecting a legally admitted resident alien to removal under 8 U.S.C.S. § 1227(a)(2)(E)(i). The court noted a recent inconsistency in its precedents regarding whether crimes of recklessness constituted categorical crimes of violence under immigration law. The court reviewed its own decisions and determined that it should join the other circuits that have restricted the category of crimes for which removal applies to crimes of violence involving specific intent. In this case, since the Arizona statute allowed conviction upon proof of reckless assault, the conviction was not a categorical crime of violence.
When a state statute of conviction does not define a categorical crime of violence, the court goes on ot apply a "modified categorical approach" in which it considers "whether any of a limited, specified set of documents--including "the state charging document, a signed plea agreement, jury instructions, guilty pleas, transcripts of a plea proceeding and the judgment" (sometimes termed "documents of conviction")--show the petitioner's conviction entailed an admission to, or proof of, the necessary elements of a crime of violence." In this case,
none of the documents ... demonstrated that [the alien's] conviction was based upon an admission, or any other proof, that he used force "intentionally" or "knowingly," as opposed to "recklessly." Accordingly, on the record now before us, we cannot conclude under the modified categorical approach that Fernandez-Ruiz committed a crime of violence or, by extension, a crime of domestic violence as defined by federal law.
The dissent took issue strongly with the rejection of recklessness as falling within the standards of categorical crimes of violence, arguing that:
Men do not beat their wives by accident. Blind to this truth, the majority ignores the realities of domestic violence and disregards congressional intent to hold that an Arizona domestic violence conviction is not a "crime of domestic violence" for purposes of a federal immigration law. The majority's hypertechnical analysis stretches the Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575, 110 S. Ct. 2143, 109 L. Ed. 2d 607 (1990), categorical approach to absurdity and misreads Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 U.S. 1, 125 S. Ct. 377, 160 L. Ed. 2d 271 (2004), as barring all crimes involving the reckless use of force from qualifying as "crimes of violence" under 18 U.S.C. § 16.
Fernandez-Ruiz v. Gonzales, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 26668 (9th Cir. October 26, 2006)
Opinion on web (last visited October 30, 2006 bgf)
Friday, October 27, 2006
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was called upon to determine what constitutes a "legal separation" in a case involving deportation of a resident alien. The petitioner was subject to removal because he had been convicted of aggravated felonies. He sought to evade deportation by claiming that he automatically became a citizen as a consequence of his mother's naturalization when he was a minor. He had come to the United States from Ethiopia with his parents when he was 10 years old. His father had returned to Ethiopia later that same year, but his mother had remained in the United States and was naturalized in 1994 when the petitioner turned 17.
At the time of mother's naturalization, federal law provided that a child also becomes a citizen as a consequence of the naturalization of the parent having legal custody of the child when there has been a legal separation of the parents. 8 U.S.C. § 1432(a) (1999) (repealed 2000) The act did not define "legal separation." Here, the parents had apparently negotiated and signed a separation agreement at the time Husband returned to Ethiopia, though there were no witnesses to the agreement and it was not incorporated into a judicial decree until the couple's 2003 divorce.
The court of appeals affirmed the BIA interpretation that only judicially recognized marital separations are considered "legal" for the purposes of section 1432(a). Petitioner argued that because Maryland courts will enforce voluntary separation agreements as a species of contract, the BIA was required to recognize his parents as "legally separated" as of the purported date of their agreement. The court of appeals, over one dissent, held that federal law controlled the issue however. After reviewing federal law on the question, the court held that the BIA interpretation was not unreasonable and affirmed.
Afeta v. Gonzales, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS (October 26, 2006)
Opinion on web (last visited October 28, 2006 bgf)