Family Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Supreme Court to Act on Kentucky Gay Marriage Fight

From NBC News:

The U.S. Supreme Court this week faces the first religious objection to reach the justices since the decision declaring a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

A county clerk in Kentucky is asking for relief from a lower court order directing her to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Her lawyers filed an emergency application directed to Justice Elena Kagan, who handles such requests from that part of the country.

Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, "holds an undisputed sincerely held religious belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, only," her lawyers say in their application.

The requirement to issue same-sex marriage licenses "demands that she either fall in line (her conscience be damned) or leave office (her livelihood and job for three-decades in the clerk's office be damned)."

Read more here.

September 2, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Child Marriage is as Popular as ever in Bangladesh

From The Washington Post:

On her wedding day, 15-year- old Nasoin Akhter looked “melancholic,” according to photographer Allison Joyce, who documented the teenage girl’s wedding to her 32-year-old husband, Mohammad Hasamur Rahman, last week in Manikganj, Bangladesh.

“It’s tradition for the bride to look shy and coy during the wedding,” Joyce told The Washington Post in an e-mail. “But I noticed this sadness and unspoken fear and uncertainty even when she was in her room with her friends before the ceremony or at the parlor with her sister (who was also married around the same age). She was withdrawn and quiet. ”

Although Nasoin Akhter’s marriage is technically illegal in Bangladesh, laws against child marriage are rarely enforced. And despite what government officials promise and the fact that outside organizations consider it a human-rights violation, the practice remains popular in Bangladesh. According to a report published in June by Human Rights Watch, the country has the fourth-highest rate of child marriage in the world, with 29 percent of Bangladeshi girls married before the age of 15, and 65 percent before the age of 18.

Read more here.

August 31, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kentucky Clerk Given Time For Gay Marriage Appeal by Federal Judge

From ABC News:

A federal judge on Monday gave a Kentucky county clerk room to continue denying marriage licenses to gays and lesbians while she takes her religious objections case to a higher court.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis last week to issue licenses to two gay couples, and ruled Monday that she is not entitled to any more delays. But because "emotions are running high on both sides of this debate," he also stayed his decision while she takes her case to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.

Attorneys on both sides disagreed about the implications. Dan Canon, representing the gay couples, said Davis remains under the judge's order. But Mat Staver, who represents Davis and is the founder of Florida-based Liberty Counsel, said the convoluted order essentially grants her request for more time.

What is clear is that Davis will continue refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone in this county of about 23,000 people, home to Morehead State University in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky. Until the case is resolved, no new wedding can be legally recognized in Rowan County unless the couple obtains a marriage license somewhere else.

Read more here.

August 18, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Mother, Daughter Sentenced to Years in Federal Prison for Committing Marriage Fraud

From Dallas Morning News:

In January 2014 nine people were indicted on 10 counts, chief among them: “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States” and “Conspiracy to Commit Marriage Fraud.”

That lengthy indictment, which is below, lays out a complex, decades-long scheme involving a 61-year-old mother, her 32-year-old daughter, seven other family members, phony immigration documents, counterfeit birth certificates, fraudulent tax returns and identity theft. The operation was undone in 2010 by an undercover government agent in Dallas “posing as an illegal alien” in need of a phony immigration application, according to the indictment.

The mother, Frances Sandoval, and her daughter Monica Morena pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with immigration documents and aggravated identity theft. Just yesterday, Sandoval was sentenced to 65 months in federal prison; she must also forfeit $45,850. Morena’s sentence handed down Wednesday in Dallas federal court is shorter (48 months), and her financial penalty is smaller ($21,710).

Read more here.

August 8, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Evangelicals Say Fight Against Same-Sex Marriage Not Over

From CNN:

Despite the Supreme Court decision in June that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, leading evangelicals vowed this week that the fight to keep marriage between a man and a woman is not over.

"In mandating same-sex marriage for all 50 states, the Supreme Court didn't just get marriage wrong, it got government wrong," Jennifer Marshall, a vice president of the Heritage Foundation, a D.C.-based conservative think tank, told a gathering of evangelicals in Nashville on Wednesday.

Leading Christian and political conservatives met at the Gospel and Politics: The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission National Conference. The group is the political and policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant Christian group in the country.

The conference was the second one this week by the Christian group. Leader Russell Moore interviewed presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio at a missions conference Tuesday.

Moore previously told CNN that the fight to reverse the Supreme Court's recent ruling will be a long one.

Read more here.


August 7, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Virginia Man Arrested for Bigamy


A Henrico man was charged with two counts of bigamy after his wife found out her husband had not divorced his previous wife before they got married. In fact, Frank Ernest Blake, Jr., 32, has been married three times without ever legally divorcing the women he married, police said.

Blake was charged with two counts of bigamy and two counts of forgery. Police said Blake forged two marriage licenses.

From behind bars, Blake explained that he has had three different marriages. The first one in 2001 lasted several years. He said his wife then filed for divorce.

“I got papers in the mail saying we were divorced, but evidently you get two sets of papers. I signed my name and everything on it” Blake said.

He said he didn’t think he had to get something annulled if it “wasn’t even real.”

Read more here.

August 3, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Lawmaker Ready to Introduce Legislation to Stop Same-Sex Marriage in Tennessee


A state lawmaker is ready to introduce legislation, if need be, to stop marriage licenses from being issued across the state, all because of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

State Rep. Rick Womick (R), of Rutherford County, is ready for war.

“If we don’t stand up and say no to these five Supreme Court Justices, we no longer have a constitutional republic; we are an oligarchy,” Womick said.

He said he’ll continue his fight, even if it means getting out of the marriage business.

“If you don’t want to uphold our sovereignty, then let’s just go ahead and get out of the marriage business and no longer issue marriage certificates,” Womick said. “We won’t issue any marriage license to anybody.”

Read more here.

August 1, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Why America's Small Businesses Aren't Cheering Same-Sex Marriage

From Forbes:

While many across corporate America cheered the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling supporting same-sex marriage, small businesses have legal room to interpret the law a different way.

While large companies like Coca-Cola, Tide, American Airlines, and Kellogg Company hailed last month’s Supreme Court’s pro-marriage equality verdict, posting heart-infused Tweets and rainbow-laden ads on the Internet, not all have been celebrating. Small businesses, particularly in the wedding industry, are likely to lament the landmark decision in the name of religion. Think the baker. The florist. The photographer. The stationery maker. The wedding singer. Because the products they sell are arguably expressive and an artistic creation that communicates a message, the law may be on their side.

Read more here.

July 20, 2015 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

County Court Clerks Rebel Against Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

From CBS News:

From Kentucky to Texas some county court house clerks are struggling with the U.S. Supreme Court decisions to legalize same-sex marriage.

A Kentucky clerk of court wants the state to issue marriage licenses online so he doesn't have to.

Casey County Clerk Casey Davis says same-sex marriage violates his religious beliefs. He stopped issuing marriage licenses following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that legalize gay marriage.

Monday, Davis tried to meet with Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to ask him to call for a special session of the state legislature so it can pass a law allowing people to purchase marriage licenses online, similar to the process of purchasing a hunting or fishing license.

Four Kentucky couples are suing another Kentucky clerk who is refusing to issue gay-marriage licenses - or any marriage licenses at all - following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that same-sex couples have a legal right to marry.

Read more here.

July 9, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hindu Marriage Law Deferred

From The Tribune:

The minority Hindu community in Pakistan will have to wait more before they can register their marriages as the lawmakers today deferred till July 13 the final approval of the Islamic country's first Hindu marriage law.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights headed by Chaudhry Muhammad Bashir Virk met here to discuss and finalize a set of laws to formalize and facilitate registration of Hindu marriages.

An official said that the committee deferred the approval till July 13 when it is expected to approve a final draft of 'The Hindu Marriage Bill, 2015' and 'The Hindu Marriage Bill, 2014'. The minority Hindu community in Pakistan has been living without a marriage law since the country was founded in 1947.

The Hindus, who constitute 1.6 per cent of the Pakistan’s total population, have been struggling to get a specific law for the past 67 years to get their marriages legalized and registered.

Read more here.

July 8, 2015 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Despite the Supreme Court Ruling, Ministers Will Not Be Forced to Marry Gay Couples


Although the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage on Friday, ministers will not be forced to marry gay couples, said a professor who specializes in constitutional law.

"As of today, there are no laws in the state of Michigan requiring a minister to marry somebody they don't want to marry," said Devin Schindler, a professor for Western Michigan University's Cooley Law School.

"I don't think that is going to happen" in the future either, he said. "There are lots of arguments to the contrary," considering the religious freedoms under the U.S. Constitution that allow churches to set rules for membership and practices.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court case, explicitly addressed that question in the court's ruling.

"Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned," Kennedy wrote in his ruling. "The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered."

Read more here.

July 2, 2015 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Puerto Rico Amends Laws After U.S. Ruling on Gay Marriage

From ABC News:

Thousands of people in Puerto Rico celebrated Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling to allow gay marriage as authorities rushed to approve legislation extending marriage rights in the socially conservative U.S. territory.

Just hours after the court's decision, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order requiring government agencies to become compliant with the ruling within 15 days. As a result, the island's Health Department and other agencies are expected to begin issuing marriage licenses by early next month.

Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said that while it was not immediately clear whether the ruling also meant that gay couples in Puerto Rico could now adopt, he said he would accept and support the change.

Miranda praised the Supreme Court ruling as "a huge step in the quest for equal rights. You cannot deny people the right to love."

Read more here.

July 1, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Supreme Court Rules that Constitution Guarantees Right to Same-Sex Marriage

From The New York Times:

In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Courtruled by a 5-to-4 vote on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the historic decision, said gay and lesbian couples had a fundamental right to marry.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” he wrote. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

The decision, which was the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, set off celebrations across the country and the first same-sex marriages in several states. It came against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of the unions.

Read more here.

June 27, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Divorce Court" Judge Speaks on Marriage

An editorial by TV "Divorce Court" judge on HuffPost:

As the judge on "Divorce Court," I am familiar with, if not inundated by, the thematic mistakes made in marriages. Yes, I know the show is a bit extreme, voyeuristic, and, well, often a little silly, but when my husband and I were staring into the marital abyss, I learned a valuable lesson from "Divorce Court" that helped me out at home.

I learned this particular lesson from couples who couldn't figure out how they had gotten to "Divorce Court" in the first place. They had marriages that went awry in such small increments they didn't know what had happened. But before me they were forced to compress years' worth of trouble into a short presentation. Each telling me a different story the other was usually surprised to hear, they often found that they were coming apart not because one or both were wrong, but because of unexamined needs. Seeing that scenario play out before me over and over again helped me figure out what was going wrong in my own home.

Read more here.


September 17, 2012 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Marital Trio in Brazil

From CNN:

(CNN) -- Brazilian public notary Claudia do Nascimento Domingues set off a firestorm by granting Brazil's first civil union to a trio, an act so unprecedented that there isn't a word for it in Portuguese.

Uniao poliafetiva is the label she created. "Polyfidelitous union" is her best guess in English.

The relationship involves three professionals in their 30s -- one man and two women -- who, she says, live together, love one another as equals and are like any other non-married cohabiting couple -- except they are three.

What Domingues did was legally register the trio as a "stable union," a civil union that extends all of the benefits of marriage, though there is debate about what rights the threesome will actually enjoy. In short, it recognizes the trio as a family entity for public legal purposes.

Read more here.


September 10, 2012 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sleeping Beauties

From Orange News:

An art installation in Kiev features five real-life sleeping beauties - who have to marry a man who kisses them if they open their eyes.

The women are to lie 'sleeping' for three days as part of artist Taras Polataiko's installation in the National Art Museum of Ukraine.

As they sleep, men survey and kiss the women, trying to wake them, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: FS

August 29, 2012 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ryznar & Stępień-Sporek: "The Harmonization of Matrimonial Property Regimes"

Margaret Ryznar (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law) and Anna Stępień-Sporek (University of Gdańsk School of Law) have posted The Harmonization of Matrimonial Property Regimes on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Although family law often differs by jurisdiction, harmonization efforts would make such state laws uniform. In the United States, the major obstacle to the harmonization of family law is the federal system. In the European Union, on the other hand, efforts to harmonize the family laws of member states are increasingly successful. This significant experiment in harmonization offers lessons into the roles of jurisdictional autonomy, cultural relativism, and legal absolutes in society, all of growing importance in an increasingly mobile society and in light of the European Union Commission’s pending proposal for harmonization of matrimonial property regimes.



June 17, 2012 in Divorce (grounds), Marriage (impediments), Property Division, Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

North Carolina Voters Approve Gay Marriage Ban

North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday night banning gay marriage, but the measure also goes one step further by not allowing civil unions.

The state becomes the last in the South to approve an anti-gay marriage amendment and joins 30 others with similar measures. Incomplete returns Tuesday night showed the amendment passing by 60 percent of the vote.

The amendment, also known as Amendment One, would make marriage the only legal domestic union valid in the state. Opponents said the measure was unnecessary because a state statute has banned gay marriage in North Carolina since 1996. They also argued that domestic partners – both straight and gay – and their children could lose health benefits under the amendment, but advocates for the new measure claim that will not happen.

Read more here.


May 9, 2012 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Too Poor to Marry?

The New York Times recently ran an article suggesting that marriage is largely for the rich, here.  Read the response of the National Review online here.


February 22, 2012 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Loving v. Virginia--in a Valentine's Day HBO Movie

HBO is showing a wonderful movie documenting the Lovings' struggle leading up to the famous Supreme Court case regarding interracial marriage--on Valentine's Day:




Hat Tip: RL

February 13, 2012 in Film, Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)