Family Law Prof Blog

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

Friday, February 9, 2018

Mississippi Pushes Abortion Ban to 15 Weeks

From NBC News:

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi lawmakers pushed ahead Friday with a bill to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which would be the earliest ban nationwide and create a possible court challenge.

Mississippi already bans most abortions after 20 weeks. It's tied with North Carolina for the nation's earliest ban.

Members of the Republican-controlled House on Friday passed House Bill 1510 by a vote of 79-31, with Republicans and some Democrats supporting it. The measure would allow exceptions if a woman's life is endangered or a fetus has a severe abnormality. The bill goes to the state Senate for more debate.

Read more here.


February 9, 2018 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Why New Tax Law May Spur More Divorces

From Politico:

Republicans may pride themselves on upholding family values, but their new tax law could soon lead to a surge in married couples calling it quits.

Lawyers are counseling couples considering divorce to do it this year — before a 76-year-old deduction for alimony payments is wiped out in 2019 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

“Now’s not the time to wait,” said Mary Vidas, a lawyer in Philadelphia and former chair of the American Bar Association’s section on family law. “If you’re going to get a divorce, get it now.”

Read more here.

February 8, 2018 in Divorce (grounds), Maintenance (alimony) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

UK: Bill Aims to Modernize Marriage Registration For The First Time Since 1837

From BBC News:

The Home Office said it will support a private member's bill, which aims to modernise marriage registration for the first time since 1837.

If passed, it would allow the names of both parents of the couple to be included on marriage certificates - instead of just those of their fathers.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd says the move will modernise an outdated system.

Read more here.

February 7, 2018 in International, Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Same-Sex Marriage A Key Issue In Costa Rica Election

From ABC News:

Costa Ricans voted Sunday in a presidential race shaken by an international court ruling saying the country should let same-sex couples get married.

Evangelical candidate Fabricio Alvarado recently vaulted into first place in the polls after he took a strong stance against gay marriage, which about two-thirds of Costa Ricans also oppose.

His closest rivals are agri-businessman Antonio Alvarez of the opposition National Liberation Party and Carlos Alvarado of the governing Citizens' Action Party.

Read more here.

February 6, 2018 in International | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, February 5, 2018

Utah Step Closer to Changing Definition of Domestic Violence

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

After another record year of domestic violence in Utah, two bills aiming to shield victims from their abusers moved a step closer to being signed into law.

Eight members of the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee on Friday listened to — and unanimously approved — Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, and Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, as they pitched SB27 and HB165, respectively.

The bills were inspired by the death of Memorez Rackley and her six-year-old son Jase. The two were killed June 6 in Sandy when a man Rackley had dated shot them in the middle of the street. The man, Jeremy Patterson, killed himself shortly after.

Read more here.


February 5, 2018 in Child Abuse, Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Increases in Parental Leave

From the New York Times:

As the labor market tightens, employers have been competing for highly educated workers by trying to make it easier for them to do their jobs and also have families — benefits like egg freezing or reduced schedules for new parents.

Now, some employers are beginning to address the same challenge for lower-wage workers, starting with paid family leave.

On Wednesday, Starbucks announced raises and stock grants for all employees in the United States, along with new benefits aimed specifically at workers with family caregiving responsibilities: paid time off to care for sick family members and paid paternity leave for hourly employees.

It followed the announcement by Walmart this month that it was raising pay and adding family-friendly benefits. It gave full-time hourly workers the same paid parental leave as salaried ones and said it would help pay for adoptions, including for hourly workers.

It’s a sign that the effects of low unemployment have reached companies that rely on low-wage workers. Both companies also credited tax cuts.

“It brings the talent we’re looking for, and industry-leading retention,” said Reggie Borges, a Starbucks spokesman. The company had been planning to add benefits for a while, he said, but the corporate tax cuts “were an accelerator.”

By focusing on family-friendly benefits, companies are also catching up to the fact that family life has changed faster than workplace or public policies. In families of all income levels, it’s more common for both parents to work or women to be the breadwinners, and the lack of family-friendly benefits has led to declining labor force participation as people struggle to combine work and parenthood.

Benefits like paid parental leave are a crucial factor for people, especially women, in continuing to work. Yet hourly workers, who generally have the most need for paid parental leave, have also been the least likely to get it. Only recently have more companies begun to change that.

Read more here.

February 5, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Foreign Adoption No Longer Allowed in Ethiopia

From Fox40:

(CNN) — Ethiopia has banned the adoption of Ethiopian children by foreign families, according to the country’s state-run News Agency ENA, citing concerns over abuse.

Ethiopian officials previously suspended adoptions back in November, but allowed pending cases to continue through the process, according to the US Department of State.

Children adopted by foreign families in the past have been exposed to “various crimes and social crisis in the country they grew up in,” ENA said.

Read more here.

February 4, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Civil Marriages Recommended for Muslim Couples

From The Guardian:

Muslim couples should undergo a civil marriage as well as a religious ceremony to give women protection under the law, an independent review of sharia councils has recommended.

A report following the 18-month review called for an awareness campaign informing Muslim women of their legal rights, and said sharia councils should be subject to regulation with a code of conduct.

However, the Home Office said it would not adopt the recommendation on regulation.

The closure of sharia councils was “not a viable option”, the report concluded.

The review, led by Prof Mona Siddiqui, presented its findings to parliament on Thursday. It was launched by Theresa May in 2016 when she was home secretary to examine whether sharia law was being misused or applied in a way that was incompatible with the rule of law in the UK.

Read more here.


February 3, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Sara's Law Proposed in Wisconsin

From Wausau Daily Herald:

WAUSAU - Scott Sann had heard his wife talk about threats she got while working on emotional family cases. He never thought someone would act on those words. 

That's what he told a small crowd of reporters on Monday afternoon in a press conference at the Marathon County Courthouse to announce Sara's Law, a proposed amendment to state law that will add protections for lawyers appointed by a court to represent the best interests of children, called guardians ad litem, like his late wife, Sara Quirt Sann. 

Read more here.

February 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Assisted-DIY Divorce Site Launched

From Above The Law:

For most ordinary folks, the prospect of hiring a lawyer who represents Hollywood A-listers in divorce proceedings is as much of a fantasy as a Hollywood’s movie version of real life. But with a little bit of techno-charged pixie dust, the dream of high-powered representation for run-of-the-mill divorce cases is now a reality.

Last week, Los Angeles attorney Laura Wasser — whose clients have includedAngelina Jolie, Ryan Reynolds, Heidi Klum, Ashton Kutcher, Christina Aguilera, and other celebrities — launched It’s Over Easy , an assisted-DIY divorce site with three levels of service, ranging from a $750 package that will complete forms based on a user’s responses to questions to a $2,500 plan (plus processing and filing fees) that will file divorce papers for both parties and includes a 90-minute phone consult and email support from a “family law consultant.” In addition, all users have access to videos by Ms. Wasser herself offering explanations of various legal concepts involved in the separation process, along with practical tips on how to manage insurance and co-parenting obligations. For now, the site is only available to couples divorcing in California and New York County — though the site has placeholders for other states, which suggests that a national roll-out may be coming down the line.

Read more here.

February 1, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

South Korea Tackles Low Birth Rates

From The Japan Times:

The woman appointed to try to reverse the world’s lowest birth rates knows better than most why billion-dollar campaigns to encourage South Korea’s female populace to procreate have failed — she is among the millions who have chosen to remain childless in the face of traditionalist social expectations.

A history professor at a Seoul University before joining the government, family minister Chung Hyun-back says she remained single to pursue her professional ambitions.

Entrenched gender roles at home and a workaholic culture are pushing the next generation of South Korean women to follow suit, warned the 64-year-old.

“It was extremely difficult — if not impossible — to juggle an academic career while getting married and raising children,” she explained, pointing out that many female professors in their 50s and 60s are single.

Read more here.

February 1, 2018 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Florida Senate Passes Bill Banning Child Marriage

From Sunshine State News:

The Florida Senate voted unanimously in favor of a bill banning child marriages on Wednesday.

The measure, SB 140, would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from tying the knot. Florida law currently allows people as young as 16 to get married.
If signed into law, Floridians hoping to wed would be required to provide their Social Security numbers to the county or circuit court who would then verify whether the parties were of legal age. 

Read more here. 

January 31, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Man in Singapore Not Allowed to Adopt His Child

From BBC News:

Gleaming Singapore is every bit the modern city, but the struggles of one father to adopt his child has shown how modern values are butting up against traditional concepts of family, writes the BBC's Yvette Tan in Singapore.

The first sound his parents ever heard him make was a loud cry.

After a six-hour labour, Noel was safely delivered in a US hospital by his surrogate mother, on behalf of two hopeful parents.

The parents cried together as they cut his umbilical cord, bonded as they fed Noel his first bottle of milk, and later, proudly took him home to his new life in Singapore.

Noel's life since then has been as typical as that of any other boy his age in Singapore, except for the fact that under Singaporean law, he is an illegitimate child, a status that could have implications throughout his life.

Read more here.

January 31, 2018 in Adoption, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Equal Parenting Presumption Under Proposed Kansas Bill

From The Lawrence Journal World:

— A Kansas legislative committee heard passionate testimony Tuesday from people both for and against a bill that would require courts to order shared custody and parenting of children in most divorce cases.

Senate Bill 257 would create a presumption in divorce cases that children of the couple would spend roughly equal time with each parent, unless the parties have agreed to another parenting plan in advance.

Judges would be allowed to order other arrangements only if there is "clear and convincing evidence" that an equal-time arrangement would not be in the best interests of the child.

Read more here. 

January 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Papers


Les Cahiers de droit – thematic issue to be published in 2018

Family law reforms: diversity and legitimacy 

For the last twenty years or so, family law in most western countries has been undergoing a process of fundamental transformation. Although the pace varies, the general trend is clear. Individuals are given greater control over conjugal and parental relationships and their legal consequences, and also over conflict-resolution methods. The demographic and sociological profile of families has also changed radically over the same twenty-year period. An increase in separations, shorter relationships, the abandonment of marriage in favour of other conjugal forms, the multiplication of conjugal models, access to a range of procreation methods, single parenthood, multiple legal parents, and blended families are some of the generalized trends that require societies to examine the need to update their family law. In addition, there are increasing calls for an approach to family law that provides a better match for the realities faced by present-day families, and that is also simpler and more accessible. The contractualization of conjugal relationships and the privatization of dispute resolution methods introduce new risks, raising the key question of the objectives that should be targeted by contemporary family law. Several jurisdictions have moved, like Québec, in the direction of partial reforms in response to immediate concerns, while others, like British Columbia more recently, have implemented a comprehensive reform. A comprehensive reform is the solution put forward by Québec's advisory committee on family law reform which, in its 2015 report, proposes nothing less than a restructuring of family law.

Whether the reform takes place in the immediate future or remains simply as a goal, this appears to us an appropriate time to bring together, in a thematic issue of Les Cahiers de Droit, the contributions of researchers looking at recent developments in family law in both civil and common law jurisdictions, and assessing options for reform of the law. The contributions may focus on themes of current concern in connection with either conjugal relationships or parental rights, approaches to dispute resolution, and also on the processes used to reform family law.  

This thematic issue of Les Cahiers de droit will be edited jointly by Professor Dominique Goubau from the Faculty of Law, at Laval University and Professor Emerita Susan Boyd of the Peter A. Allard School of Law at The University of British Columbia. Papers 20 to 30 pages long (1.5 spaced, footnotes included) must be submitted by e-mail ( before April 1 st, 2018.

The journal Les Cahiers de droit publishes original papers in French and English. All submitted texts are assessed anonymously by two external experts. The style sheet is available on the journal's website at: For more information:


Les Cahiers de droit – numéro thématique devant paraître en 2018

Les réformes en droit de la famille : diversité et légitimité

Depuis une vingtaine d'années, le droit de la famille de la plupart des pays occidentaux est engagé dans un processus de transformation fondamental. Le rythme n'est pas le même partout, mais le mouvement est incontestable. Il est caractérisé par une plus grande emprise des individus sur les liens conjugaux et parentaux ainsi que sur les conséquences juridiques de ces liens; une plus grande emprise aussi sur les façons de résoudre les conflits. Le portrait démographique et sociologique des familles a radicalement changé au cours de cette période. L'augmentation des séparations, le raccourcissement de la durée de vie commune, la désertion de l'institution du mariage au profit d'autres formes de conjugalité, la multiplication des modèles conjugaux, la diversité des modes de procréation, la monoparentalité, la pluriparentalité, les recompositions familiales sont, parmi d'autres, des phénomènes généralisés qui obligent les sociétés à s'interroger sur l'opportunité de mettre leur droit de la famille à niveau. Et de fait, on observe une augmentation des revendications en faveur d'un droit de la famille plus en phase avec la réalité des familles contemporaines, mais aussi un droit de la famille plus simple et plus accessible. Les phénomènes de contractualisation des rapports conjugaux et de privatisation des modes de règlement des conflits ne sont pas sans danger. Se pose dès lors la délicate question des objectifs que devrait tendre à atteindre le droit de la famille contemporain. Plusieurs pays ont procédé, comme ce fut le cas au Québec, à des réformes partielles répondants à des impératifs du moment. D'autres ont choisi la voie d'une réforme globale. Ce fut récemment le cas en Colombie-Britannique. C'est également la solution préconisée par le Comité consultatif sur la réforme du droit de la famille du Québec qui, dans son rapport de 2015, propose ni plus ni moins une restructuration du droit de la famille.

Que les réformes aient eu lieu, qu'elles soient imminentes ou à tout le moins souhaitées, le moment nous paraît propice pour rassembler dans un numéro thématique des Cahiers de Droit les contributions de chercheurs et de chercheures sur les plus récents développements du droit de la famille en droit civil et en common law, ainsi que sur les opérations de réforme de celui-ci. Les contributions peuvent porter sur des thèmes d'actualité concernant tant les relations conjugales que les liens parentaux et les modes de règlement des conflits. Elles peuvent également porter sur les processus de réforme du droit familial eux-mêmes.

La direction scientifique du numéro thématique des Cahiers de droit consacré à la réforme en droit de la famille sera assurée conjointement par le professeur Dominique Goubau, de la Faculté de droit de l’Université Laval, et la professeure émérite Susan Boyd, de la Peter A. Allard School of  Law de l’Université de la Colombie-Britannique. Les textes, de 20 à 30 pages (à interligne et demi, notes incluses), sont attendus d’ici le 1er avril 2018, par courriel (

Les Cahiers de droit publient des textes originaux en langue française et anglaise. Tous les textes soumis à la revue font l’objet d’une évaluation anonyme par deux experts externes. Les normes de présentation des textes sont consultables sur le site Web de la revue: Pour de plus amples renseignements :




January 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 29, 2018

No Formula For Alimony In New Jersey

From JD Supra:

One of the most common question posed by clients is – how is alimony determined?  Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that question, and it is often dependent upon the facts and circumstances of a given matter.  The law does not provide for a formula, even in the final version of the amended alimony statute that passed in late 2014, and requires that trial judges consider each of the factors outlined in New Jersey’s alimony statute (N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b)) in rendering an award.

Read more here. 

January 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Marital Jewelry Post-Divorce

From the New York Times:

Diane Lloyde Roth met, and married, her Prince Charming.

He turned into a frog.

Prince Charming No. 2: Frog.

Prince Charming No. 3: Frog.

After Ms. Roth’s third divorce, she sold a Harry Winston band that Frog No. 3 had bought her and purchased three thumb-size gold and diamond frog pins. She wears them crawling up her blouse in a column toward her neck.

“My mother always told me I would have to kiss a lot of frogs,” she said. “Instead, I married them. So this was an inexpensive way to a new beginning.”

The story of postmarital jewelry has many strands. There are the emotional tales of rebirth and repurposing, such as Ms. Roth’s frogs. There are the stories of the strictly financial, like when a piece that was once a symbol of everlasting love morphs into a strictly salable commodity that helps to pay the mortgage, a child’s college tuition or a charitable donation.

Upon her divorce from Donald Trump in 1999, Marla Maples sold her 7.45-carat Harry Winston diamond for $110,000 and reportedly donated the cash to charity. It was a move that Mr. Trump called “pretty tacky.”

And then there are the tales of bitter court disputes, once the battle of the assets commences. Disputed jewelry is sometimes lied about, hidden, stolen and, in rare instances, brazenly worn in public.

Read more here.

January 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Gay Couple Sent Satan Pamphlets Instead of Wedding Programs

From NBC News:

On the evening before their wedding in western Pennsylvania, Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg sat down together to open up a package they had received from Vistaprint that morning. The package was supposed to contain 100 wedding programs they ordered for their big day. The box’s contents, however, were not what the couple had imagined.

“Rather than send Plaintiffs the custom wedding programs they had purchased, Vistaprint instead sent Plaintiffs literature with hateful, discriminatory and anti-gay messages equating their relationship to Satan’s temptation,” a federal lawsuit against the printing company states.

Read more here.

January 28, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Alvaré: "Putting Children's Interests First in US Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility"

Helen M. Alvaré (George Mason) recently published the book Putting Children's Interests First in US Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility.  Here is the book's description:

The well-being of children should be a social priority, and should consider the family circumstances into which children are born. Putting Children's Interests First in US Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility details the rise of a federal policy of 'sexual expressionism', which prioritizes adults' interests over children's welfare. It describes the costs to children in the areas of family structure and stability, and the federal programs attempting to ameliorate the situation of non-marital children. Offering a detailed empirical and ethical critique both of 'sexual expressionism' and of the related federal programs, this study will be of interest to scholars and activists supporting children, women and the poor.

The book is available on Amazon here.

Read an interview with Prof. Alvaré on the book here and here.

January 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama Abortion Protections

From CNBC:

The Trump administration on Friday took two new steps in its ongoing fight against abortion.

The first was a new regulation that further underscored protections for health-care workers who refuse to perform abortions and other medical procedures because of religious and moral objections.

The second rescinded a formal warning issued by the Obama administration in 2016 to all state Medicaid directors reminding them that they could not cut funding to Planned Parenthood just because that group offers abortion services.

Read more here.


January 26, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)