Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, October 15, 2016

British women, please rally to support decriminalisation of abortion

From The Guardian:

In Poland mass protests have forced the government to drop plans to tighten its already draconian abortion laws. Yet here in Britain most people are unaware that women still live under the threat of being sentenced to life imprisonment if they end their own pregnancies by buying pills on the internet. Doctors also face harsh penalties if they do not fill in the correct forms before terminating a pregnancy.

Back in 1967 our law was changed to allow the legal ending of pregnancies if certain conditions were met. Otherwise the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act remained in place; and so it still is today – nearly half a century later.

On Wednesday 24 October a ten-minute rule bill is to be introduced to the House of Commons proposing that abortion in Britain is decriminalised. To do so would not only allow speedier and much less bureaucratic use of modern medical procedures, but would save a huge amount of NHS money while bringing us into line with countries such as Canada where medical abortion was decriminalised nearly three decades ago.

Read more here.

October 15, 2016 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

In Lebanon, a Tangle of Religious Laws Govern Life and Love

From The Atlantic:

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- When May Omari, now 45, tied the knot at age 23, she married a secular man in a secular marriage in New York City. As a formality, and to appease their Lebanese families, they later held a brief religious ceremony in Beirut. A Sunni Muslim mufti, or religious leader, came to her house, the couple signed a few papers, and she put them in a drawer.

After 18 years of married life and a move back to Lebanon, they decided to divorce. At that point, her religious marriage came back to haunt her. Although her husband had never shown a hint of piety in the past, she says, the prevailing interpretation of sharia family law in Lebanon granted him custody of the couple's two sons. And when he took them -- along with all the furniture -- there was nothing she could do.

Read more here.

October 11, 2016 in Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Local father desperate after son is reportedly taken to Russia

From ABC News 10:

QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Queensbury man is raising awareness to a growing global issue of International Child Abduction. It happens when a child is wrongfully taken and held in another country by a parent.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon.

Corey McKeighan shares custody of his son Xavier with his mother who is from Russia.

What was supposed to be a mother and son three week trip to her country, has McKeighan worried he will never get his son back.

Xavier is bright and full of energy. He just turned 4 on Monday.

“He was the best kid in the world. He was happy, he was funny.”

His ex-wife agreed to return on September 16th.

“The day before they were supposed to return, she had called me and said, ‘We’re not coming back and you’ll never see us again.'”

In a panic, McKeighan contacted the U.S. State Department, FBI, and congressional leaders. They are working with the foreign government to resolve this case that they say is international child abduction.

Read more here.

September 30, 2016 in Custody (parenting plans), International, Resources - Child Custody | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

International Recovery of Child Support

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.

September 13, 2016 in Child Support (establishing), International, Resources - Child Support | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Men stage child custody protest on Jeremy Corbyn's roof

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.

September 10, 2016 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 2, 2016

China wants to stop domestic violence. But the legal system treats it as a lesser crime.

From The Washington Post:

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.

September 2, 2016 in Domestic Violence, International, Resources - Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Ornamental Political Wife

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.

May 18, 2016 in International, Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Seventy-year Old Woman Gives Birth with IVF Assistance

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.

May 16, 2016 in International, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Japan's Top Court Rules Married Couples Must Have Same Surname

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.


December 24, 2015 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

UK Court of Appeals Issues Judgment in Internal Child Relocation Cases

From Lexology:

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) [2015] 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.

December 23, 2015 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 28, 2015

New Website Promises to Handle Your Divorce and Filing Costs for $99

From TIME:

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,, 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. aims to simplify the procedure by letting users complete, file and serve divorce papers online.

Read more here.

September 28, 2015 in Divorce (grounds), International, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Yefit: "What's the Constitution Got to Do with It? Regulating Marriage in Pakistan"

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.


November 13, 2009 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Divorce Fair?

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.


November 12, 2009 in International | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bundles of Joy and, Now, Bounty

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.



November 10, 2009 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Undocumented Immigrants and the Battle for Custody

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)

April 22, 2009 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 26, 2008

South Africa: Virginity Testing and the Constitution

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).

September 26, 2008 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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)

August 30, 2008 in Annulment, International | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Case Law Development: K visa applicants may adjust immigration status even if they divorce

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)

August 16, 2008 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Call for Unified EU Family Law

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)

January 25, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Regulations to Implement Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions Considered

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)

November 15, 2006 in Adoption, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)