Family Law Prof Blog

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

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Iraq Rejects Proposed Amendments To Personal Status Law

From Human Rights Watch:

(Beirut) – Iraq's parliament has rejected proposed amendments to Iraq’s Personal Status Law (PSL) that would allow religious judges to impose discriminatory law on family matters, Human Rights Watch said today.

The amendments would have covered areas including inheritance and divorce, and, by giving powers to impose family laws to certain religious communities, would have allowed girls to be married as young as age 8 under some of these laws. The head of the women’s rights committee in parliament rejected the initiative in mid-November, blocking the bill. However, two leading women’s rights organizations say that some parliament members have threatened to continue to push for the amendments to secure votes in some parts of the country in the May 2018 parliamentary elections.

“Parliament’s women’s rights committee has made a great contribution to Iraqi society in rejecting this effort to scuttle Iraq’s family law protections,” said Belkis Wille, senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Threats by lawmakers to dismantle protections under the current law and restore discriminatory laws would be devastating to women’s rights.”

Read more here.

December 24, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sexual Harassment Around the Globe

From CNN:

Any woman, in any country, will most likely be able to relate to this situation:

Walking down the street, alone, past a group of guys hanging out with nowhere to go. Her guard goes up, and preparation takes place. Many things could happen when she passes them.
It may be the words "hey, beautiful" or "hey, sexy," or being instructed to smile. It may be more intentional: standing in the way or blocking the path in hope of some interaction. It may get more aggressive, with hands reaching to inappropriate places.
The spectrum is far and wide, with one end harboring the potential for things to become more violent with physical abuse or rape.
Read more here.

December 3, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pakistani Bride Kills 17 to Escape Arranged Marriage

From The Washington Post:

Arranged marriages are a standard practice in Pakistan, and there’s no shortage of stories about the extreme steps some Pakistani women will take to escape them and marry men of their choosing.

But few go as far as Aasia Bibi is alleged to have gone. According to Pakistani authorities, the 21-year-old woman tried to slip poison into her new husband’s milk and inadvertently killed 17 of his family members in the process.

Read more here.

November 12, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 10, 2017

New India Law Protects Child Brides From Sex

From The New York Times:

NEW DELHI — India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a part of the country’s legal code that had permitted men to have sex with their underage wives — a decision that human rights groups said was an important step forward for the rights of girls.

Indian law sets 18 as the age for marriage and consent to sex for a young woman. But another provision of the law was inconsistent, saying a man could have sex with a girl as young as 15, as long as she was his wife.

Advocates argued to the court that this exception encouraged child marriage, which is prevalent throughout rural India and has imperiled many development goals, like improving education, ending poverty and reducing family size.

Read more here.

November 10, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Trump’s order provides ammunition for litigants in family law matters

Written by Thomas Velarde for Washington Top News:

On January 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed the Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” (“Trump’s Order”).  This Executive Order allows individuals to be deported for a variety of reasons for which they were previously not deportable.  Trump’s Order will directly impact family law matters related to domestic violence, child custody, child support, and spousal support, as aliens may be deported before, during, or after such proceedings.

Deportation Under President Donald J. Trump

President Trump’s Order states that aliens should be deported for having committed, attempted, or conspired to commit certain acts.  Aliens can be deported for acts of terrorism, crimes of dishonesty, felonies, drug activity, treason, abuse of their families, espionage, sabotage, failing to register as a sex offender, owning, purchasing, selling, or possessing a firearm, certain illegal immigration activities, and certain violations of human rights.

Trump’s Order also states that aliens can be deported for the following: conviction of any criminal offense; being charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved; committing acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense; engaging in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with an official matter or application to a government agency; having abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; being subjected to an order of removal but not yet having been deported; and if in the judgement of an immigration officer, the alien poses a risk to public safety or national security.

Examples of conduct that can result in deportation under Trump’s Order include: obtaining Medicare, SNAP, WIC, or any other government program benefit fraudulently, or misrepresenting a fact in any government form; using someone else’s social security number to work; and being subject to a removal order but remaining in the country.

Unlike under President Obama, under Trump’s Order, speeding, DUI, drunk in public, and many other offenses can result in deportation.  Further, no conviction is required.  Rather, to be deportable, an alien simply must have committed or been charged with the act.

Even non-criminal conduct can result in deportation—merely admitting to abusing drugs or being a drug addict can result in deportation.  In addition, if an immigration officer subjectively judges that an alien is a risk to the United States, that alien can be deported.

Read more here.

March 1, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Scourge of Child Marriage in Africa Continues

From Human Rights Watch:

“I’ve never experienced happiness in my marriage. I’ve never seen the benefit of being married,” Chimwemwe told me when I interviewed her in a small village in rural Malawi.

Chimwemwe was just 12-years-old when she married a 17-year-old boy to escape poverty at home. Like many girls I have interviewed in South Sudan, Tanzania, and Malawi about their marriages, she was hoping for a life of love and prosperity, but instead endured poverty and violence at the hands of her husband.

In sub-Saharan Africa, about one in four girls marry before age 18. Statistics show that African nations account for 17 of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage globally. For example, according to new UNICEF data, 76 percent of girls in Niger and close to 70 percent of girls in Central African Republic and Chad marry before they turn 18. In Malawi, one in every two girls marry before age 18.

Read more here.

February 12, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Locked up and in limbo: Mother takes immigration, child custody battle to court

From The Washington Post:

From the day he was picked up three years ago by Border Patrol agents in Texas, Dora Beltrán’s son has cycled through shelters and detention centers in five states as his mother fights to bring him home.

The family’s immigration standing is not at issue: She is a legal permanent resident and an immigration judge decided he would not be deported.

Yet the teen remains locked up as his mother and the government battle over when federal officials can keep a parent from her troubled child.

The rare and complicated case is set to be heard this week in federal court in Northern Virginia where Beltrán is challenging the role of federal officials in child custody matters.

Her son had lived with her in Texas for years but was a runaway when he was spotted by agents at age 14 near the Mexican border. Before Beltrán could get to her son, authorities detained him as an unaccompanied minor.

Even after an immigration judge determined that the boy did not have to be deported, federal officials decided he should remain in a detention center. They said his history — with the teen describing himself as a runaway, drug user and associate of criminal gangs — raised questions about his mother’s ability to supervise him and keep him safe.

But Beltrán’s lawyers say that once an immigration judge closed out her son’s case, he should have been released to her.

On Thursday, her lawyers will argue that she is entitled to a formal custody hearing similar to what she would receive in a state or local child welfare system.

Read more here.

November 11, 2016 in Custody (parenting plans), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

North Korea Families Pressuring Elderly to Commit Suicide


SEOUL, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- More senior citizens in North Korea are being pressured to kill themselves because of intergenerational conflicts and the skyrocketing cost of medicine.

Elderly North Koreans who can no longer depend on the country's welfare system must also cope with their children who are sometimes apathetic to their needs, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told RFA on Tuesday it is a common sight at parks or train stations to see senior citizens gathered together, even as temperatures continue to drop in some of the coldest parts of the country.

"[Korean War] veterans are among their numbers; it is heartbreaking to see them there," the source said.

The elderly, who are no longer employable, leave their homes during the day to avoid friction with their children. They shiver in the cold outdoors until the sun sets, the source said.


The financial burden they impose on their adult children who also struggle to make ends meet has led to family crises, where it is the children who are asking their aging parents to commit suicide, said another source in North Hamgyong Province.

The notion of killing themselves is not unfamiliar to elderly North Koreans, particularly war veterans who once devoted their lives to the Workers' Party and sacrificing for North Korea founder Kim Il Sung

Their devotion has not paid off, as neither the state nor their children are tending to their needs, according to the report.

Read more here.

November 8, 2016 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 28, 2016

They Took In One Refugee Family. But Families Don’t Have Borders.

From The New York Times:

Wissam al-Hajj, a Syrian refugee, woke up in the most comfortable home she had ever lived in, an apartment growing increasingly stuffed with toys for her four children. She realized she had slept far more soundly than usual. But when she remembered why, she grew irritated: Her husband, Mouhamad, had hidden the phone from her.

As their older children competed for the first shower, Ms. Hajj recalled the argument from the night before. Her husband had been trying to spare her from an agonizing consequence of their move to Canada: the pleading messages from family members and friends across the Middle East.

“I’m only going to give it to you if you stop talking to them at night,” he had said to her.

“I’m going to start working and buy my own phone,” she had shot back, the threat hollow but deeply felt.

Read more here.


October 28, 2016 in Adoption, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Famadihana: The family reunion where the dead get an invite

From CNN News:

In the rolling hills of Madagascar Central Highlands, the Merina tribe exhumes the remains of their ancestors for a celebration-cum-family reunion.

In this sacred ritual, which occurs every five to seven years, a number of deceased relatives are removed from an ancestral crypt. Living family members carefully peel the burial garments off the corpses and wrap them in fresh silk shrouds.
The festivities begin and guests drink, converse, and dance with their forebears.
"We wrap the bodies and dance with the corpses while they decompose," says anthropologist Dr Miora Mamphionona.
Just before the sun sets, the bodies are carefully returned to the tomb and turned upside down. The crypt is then closed for the next five to seven years.
Read more here.

October 24, 2016 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Woman who says ex-partner misrepresented wealth wins appeal

From The Guardian:

A woman who says she did not get enough money when an 18-year same-sex relationship ended because a wealthy ex-partner “misrepresented” the size of her fortune has won the latest round of a legal battle.

Helen Roocroft, who is in her 40s and comes from Bolton, Greater Manchester, accepted a settlement of about £200,000 after separating from Carol Ainscow, a property developer, in 2009.

But she said Ainscow, who died aged 55 three years ago, “misrepresented her wealth”. She took legal action against a representative of Ainscow’s estate in the hope of getting more.

Roocroft lost the first round of her fight in a family court two years ago. But three appeal court judges have ruled in her favour. Lord Justice Elias, Lord Justice Kitchin and Lady Justice King said on Friday that the case should be reanalysed by a high court judge.

Read more here.

October 23, 2016 in Divorce (grounds), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

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 (1)

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)