Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Marriage Tax Breaks

From Professor Erez Aloni, writing for the Guardian:

Marriage can help reduce economic inequality when it serves as a vehicle for people to cross class boundaries. But if wealth marries wealth, as it often does, it serves as a mechanism to accumulate capital and redistribute it upward. That’s just one reason why the state subsidization of marriage in the United States makes so little sense.

Conservatives often say that married couples and their children fare better than their counterparts in a variety of measures – and thus the US government should continue to promote marriage. As Senator Marco Rubio put it, marriage is “the greatest tool to lift children and families from poverty”.

But is it?

Read more here.

November 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Same-Sex Marriage In Case of Adoption

From CNN:

The legalization of same-sex marriage has given way to a new problem for a Pennsylvania couple, who technically are father and son.

Before states across the country began striking down bans on same-sex marriage and the Supreme Court ultimately decided the issue nationwide, some gay couples used adoption laws as a way to gain legal recognition as a family, and the related benefits such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights.

Nino Esposito, a retired teacher, adopted his partner Roland "Drew" Bosee, a former freelance and technical writer, in 2012, after more than 40 years of being a couple.

Now, they're trying to undo the adoption to get married and a state trial court judge has rejected their request, saying his ability to annul adoptions is generally limited to instances of fraud.

Read more here.


November 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Clerks Must Issue Gay Marriage Licenses, Poll Finds

From U.S. News & World Report:

Linda Massey opposes gay marriage. But she was incensed last summer to see that Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

"If the government says you have to give out those marriage licenses, and you get paid to do it, you do it," says the 64-year-old retiree from Lewiston, Michigan. "That woman," she said of Davis, "should be out of a job."

Americans like Massey are at the heart of a shift in public opinion, an Associated Press-GfK poll has found. For the first time, most Americans expect government officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even over religious objections.

It's partly a matter of expecting public servants to do their jobs. But more broadly, the issue touches on a familiar dispute over which constitutional value trumps which: religious freedom, or equality under the law?

The question in recent months has entangled leaders with political sway, among them Pope Francis and the 2016 presidential contenders. But it's not a new conflict for a nation that has long wrestled with the separation of church and state.

Where Davis's answer was the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom — and she served jail time to back it up — a majority of respondents don't buy that argument when it comes to public officials issuing marriage licenses. That's a shift since an AP-GfK survey in July, when Americans were about evenly split. Then, 49 percent said officials with religious objections should be exempt from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and 47 percent said they should be required to issue them.

Read more here.

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

Saturday, November 7, 2015

American Civil Liberties Union Sues Indiana Agency over Adoption Subsidies

From Washington Times:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two foster parents against the director of the Indiana Department of Child Services’ Central Eligibility Unit over adoption subsidies.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday on behalf of Lyons residents David and Julie Arthur, who act as foster parents for three grandsons, the Indianapolis Star ( ) reports.

The couple claims the state agency violated federal law by calculating the adoption subsidy without considering “circumstances of the adopting parents and the needs of the child being adopted,” according to court records.

The Arthurs say they want to adopt their grandsons, who are 6, 3 and 2 years old. The couple says the boys have “profound disabilities,” but that they can’t pay for services needed.

Medicaid covers the boys’ medical needs. Their grandparents receive $145.72 per day as licensed foster parents to help offset the boys’ extensive needs.

If the Arthurs adopt the boys, they would get $52 per day under the Department of Child Services’ “final offer” for adoption assistance payments. The couple says it would be “impossible” to “adequately and appropriately care for the children” at that amount, according to the lawsuit.

Read more here.

November 7, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 6, 2015

March for Life Faces Obama Administration Appeal Over Birth Control Mandate

From Washington Times:

The Obama administration filed notice Thursday that it will appeal a federal ruling that blocked it from enforcing its birth control mandate on a pro-life nonprofit known for its massive D.C. rallies against abortion.

In August, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said the Health and Human Services Department practiced “regulatory favoritism” by exempting houses of worship on grounds that its employees are less likely to want the contraceptives, while rejecting pleas from March for Life, a secular group that says its employees also don’t want contraceptives, particularly those they equate with abortion.

“HHS may be correct that this objection is common among religiously affiliated employers. Where HHS has erred, however, is in assuming that this trait is unique to such organizations. It is not,” wrote Judge Leon, who was appointed to the District of Columbia bench by President George W. Bush.

On Thursday, secretaries of the Treasury and Health and Human Services and Labor departments filed notice with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The birth control mandate is an outgrowth of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 that requires employers to cover 20 types of drugs and services approved by the Food and Drug Administration as part of their health care plans. Pitched as a boon for women’s health, the rules quickly spawned controversy, with dozens of religious nonprofits and devout business owners filing suit.

Read more here.

November 6, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Woman Forced to Drive 300 Miles to Abort Dying Fetus

From USA Today:

An Ohio woman whose baby would have been stillborn was forced to travel 300 miles to Chicago because no Ohio abortion clinic would do the procedure, she said.

Sheva Guy, 23, a doctoral student from Cincinnati, said her daughter was diagnosed with a fatal spinal abnormality when she went to a hospital for her second-trimester ultrasound at about 22 weeks. She and her husband were expecting to find out the gender of their child.

"I wanted a girl. He wanted a boy, so it was like, 'Who was going to be right?'" Guy said.

But the technician was quiet. The baby was too small. Something was wrong.

A second test at a second hospital confirmed that the baby's head was too large, the rest of the body was too small and a severe spinal abnormality meant the baby would never live.

"I just completely broke down. I mean, I was so vulnerable," Guy said. "Pantsless on the table, I was finding out this news. I was just sobbing. Both my contacts fell out. I couldn't see anything."

Guy shared her story at a Tuesday news conference hosted by ProgressOhio, a liberal-leaning public policy group, and NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. Both groups oppose tightening restrictions on abortions.

Guy said she had two options: deliver a stillborn daughter or have an abortion. The first was more than she could bear.

Read more here.

November 5, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Divorce Rate Doesn't Go Up As Families of Children with Disabilities Grow

From University of Wisconsin-Madison:

Couples raising a child with developmental disabilities do not face a higher risk of divorce if they have larger families, according to a new study by researchers from the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The study, published in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, also compares divorce rates of couples who have at least one child with a developmental disability to that of their peers who have typically developing children.

Researchers found that among couples with children without any disabilities, the risk of divorce was lowest for couples with one child and increased with each successive child. In contrast, the risk of divorce for parents of children with developmental disabilities remained unchanged with increasing family size.

Parenting a child with a developmental disability involves challenges and rewards that are unique to each family and prior research has shown that parents of a child with a developmental disability tend to experience greater marital stress compared to peers raising typically developing children.

As a result, there has been "a conception that, in general, parents of children with disabilities are more likely to experience divorce, and we wanted to test that assumption," says Eun Ha Namkung, first author of the paper and a graduate student in social work at the Waisman Center's Lifespan Family Research Program, led by study co-authors Jan Greenberg and Marsha Mailick. Previous research has proven inconclusive.

Read more here.

November 4, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

After Full Lives Together, More Older Couples Are Divorcing

From The New York Times:

Hilary Stephens was 57 when she decided she had had enough — enough of her job, of caretaking, of her marriage of 28 years. So she did something many people fantasize about: She walked away from it all.

“Sometimes it’s the only solution,” said Ms. Stephens, now 58 and the mother of two adult children. She moved from Washington to the Philadelphia area, where she is now vice president for development at Woods Services, a nonprofit.

Late life divorce (also called “silver” or “gray” divorce) is becoming more common, and more acceptable. In 2014, people age 50 and above were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. For those over 65, the increase was even higher.

At the same time, divorce rates have plateaued or dropped among other age groups.

One explanation is that many older people are in second marriages; the divorce rate is about two and a half times larger for those who have remarried and are often grappling with blended families or greater financial challenges.

Life expectancy also plays a role. In the past, “people died earlier,” said Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle, and the love, sex and relationship ambassador for AARP. “Now, let’s say you’re 50 or 60. You could go 30 more years. A lot of marriages are not horrible, but they’re no longer satisfying or loving. They may not be ugly, but you say, ‘Do I really want 30 more years of this?’”

Read more here.

November 3, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Divorce and the Shared Mortgage

From The New York Times:

Deciding what to do with the house can be a major quandary for couples getting a divorce, particularly when they share a mortgage.

When there is equity in the home, each spouse typically wants to take a share as part of the settlement agreement. But if one person wants to remain in the home, rather than sell it and split any profit, then that spouse will likely have to qualify for a mortgage on his or her own.

Spouses who choose to stay may have to refinance their mortgages in order to cash out enough equity to pay off an ex. But even a spouse who has the financial resources for a buyout without drawing on home equity will still probably have to get a mortgage in his or her name.

“The person walking away wants their share of the equity, but also wants their name off the mortgage as soon as possible,” said Kathleen B. Connell, a family law lawyer and lecturer in Atlanta.

The mortgage obligation can tie up that person’s credit, and “if there’s a default,” Ms. Connell added, “the mortgage company is going to sue them both, regardless of what the divorce agreement says.”

Read more here.

November 2, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Court Refuses to Recognize Saudi Custody Decree Due to Inconsistencies with American Public Policy

From The Washington Post:

Westlaw just posted this very interesting decision in H.L.K. v. F.A.A.; it was handed down by a Pennsylvania family court on Oct. 22, 2014, but wasn’t made available on Westlaw until yesterday. Note that the appellate court affirmed the family court’s holding, but it didn’t reach the public policy analysis: “Because we conclude that the family court did not abuse its discretion in declining to register the foreign custody order pursuant to Section 5445(d)(1), we need not decide whether the Saudi court’s order is contrary to public policy.”

The U.S. courts should indeed sometimes accept as given the judgments of foreign family courts, including judgments that are based on rules that we view as improperly discriminatory. If two Saudis (call them Hamid and Wafa) get divorced in Saudi Arabia, and one of them (Hamid) comes to the United States some years later, U.S. courts ought to accept the Saudi divorce decree, and (generally speaking) the Saudi child custody decree.

Read more here.

November 1, 2015 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!


October 31, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Study Examines Sexual Satisfaction in Marriage v. Cohabitation

From The Daily Nebraskan:

Being sexually satisfied can be a priority for many adults. In fact, the decision of whether to cohabitate or marry may be a stressor if sex becomes less satisfying for a couple, depending on which they choose.

Professor Larry Gibbs, a postdoctoral research associate in the sociology department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, became interested in the topic of sexual satisfaction among heterosexual couples who are married versus those who simply cohabitate. He said this emanated from a broader discussion on relationship quality and stability.

“My team and I examined the association between sexual satisfaction and pregnancy intentions among married and cohabiting women,” Gibbs said. “Our findings were supported by prior research that marriage provides a protective sexual health effect.”

Gibbs teamed with UNL faculty, graduate students and colleagues from Oklahoma State University and Alfred University on research projects focusing on sexuality, health and family.

In a paper presented at the Population Association of America in 2015, along with colleagues from UNL, OSU and AU, Gibbs examined the association between sexual satisfaction and pregnancy intentions among married and cohabiting women.

Read more here.

October 31, 2015 in Cohabitation (live-ins) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Call for Papers

Call for papers 2016 (2) 3

October 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)


From the Washington Post:

Anne-Marie Slaughter has come to regret that her site-crashingly popular Atlantic piece had the title “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All." For one, she has since decided it's not just women who can't have it all. What's more, she says, "having it all" isn't even the point.

In her new book, Unfinished Business, she asserts that the real problem isn't about work-life balance—it's that we utterly devalue the importance of caregiving roles in our society. The conversation with Slaughter, who now leads the Washington-based think tank New America, has been edited for length and clarity.

Read it here.

October 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Intel Expands Fertility and Adoption Benefits to Entice Female Employees


Intel announced this week that it planned to quadruple fertility benefits and triple adoption benefits for its employees, upping the ante for large tech firms that are trying to woo female workers by offering greater than average healthcare coverage.

Because one in eight women nationally struggle with fertility, Intel said boosting benefits for people struggling in that area is just good for business.

"This initiative is basically trying to help our employees at a time when any research says that it's very stressful, specifically, people trying to start a family," said Richard Taylor, Intel's director of human resources.

Women account for a little more than 24 percent of Intel's workforce, and the company hopes that figure will grow.

"What we wanted to do was to keep the talent we've got, and also help to attract even more talent," Taylor said.

Intel announced in a blog post Monday that beginning in 2016, it would boost its fertility benefit coverage from $10,000 to $40,000 for medical services. It also would increase related prescription services from $5,000 to $20,000.

In addition, employees no longer need a medical diagnosis for fertility coverage, which will help some same-sex couples. Intel also said it will triple adoption assistance to $15,000 per child.

Read more here.

October 30, 2015 in Adoption, Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

End of China's 1-Child Policy

From CNN:

From street corners to social media, Chinese have hailed the ending of the country's one-child policy -- but it seems few rushed to their bedrooms to celebrate.

"I want to have a second child but I won't," said Wendy Zhang, a 33-year-old pharmacist in Xi'an. "We both have to work, so no one would have time to take care of our children and our life would be too stressful."

China announced that all couples would now be eligible for a second child on Thursday, reversing a controversial 35-year-old policy, but it seems that it may not have an immediate impact.

Some 100 million couples are expected to benefit from the relaxation of the rule, but of the more than 50,000 people responding to an Internet poll posted by a journalist on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, only 20% said they both wanted, and could afford, a second child.

Read more here.

October 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

South Australia Fertility Clinics Struggling to Keep Up With Increasing Demand for Donor Sperm

From ABC Online:

Fertility clinics in South Australia say they are struggling to keep up with an increasing demand for donor sperm.

They said rising infertility rates along with a greater number of same-sex couples and single women requesting treatments have contributed to the shortage in donated sperm supplies.

Repromed Fertility Specialists general manager Dr Hamish Hamilton said more sperm donors are needed, but numbers had been steadily declining over the past decade.

"Back in the 80s and 90s sperm donors could donate anonymously and the screening processes weren't as tight as they are now," he said.

Under legislation, those conceived through a donor are entitled to know the identity of their biological parents.

"Every sperm donor now has to agree to be contacted in 18 years time when the child reaches 18 years of age," he said.

"So that rigour around the recruitment of donor sperms means there are less donors willing to donate."

Dr Hamilton said the increase in demand at Repromed could also be attributed to a greater number of women looking to start a family later in life.

Read more here.

October 29, 2015 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Oklahoma City Adoption Attorney Accused in Child Trafficking Case

From NewsOK:

A longtime Oklahoma City adoption attorney was accused Thursday in a child trafficking case of cheating adoptive parents out of thousands of dollars.  

Prosecutors allege the attorney, Robert Golden Boren, created a fake company to unlawfully charge adoptive parents more than the actual living expenses of the birth mothers. They also allege he overcharged the parents for so-called social services.

"In essence, Boren reported the expense he charged the adoptive couple but NOT what was actually paid," Oklahoma City police Detective Priscilla Helm wrote in a court affidavit. "This allowed a profit for Boren that was hidden from the adoptive couples, the birth mothers and the Courts.” 

The detective reported Boren received more than $110,000 in illegal profit between 2009 and 2013 on cases she examined. 

Read more here.

October 28, 2015 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How 3 Young Girls and an Arkansas State Official Became the Center of Adoption Controversy

From ABC News:

An adoption controversy in Fayetteville, Ark., has ignited a debate over the controversial practice of "re-homing" and caring for adopted children that have been abused.

The adoption involves three little girls, who ranged in age from 9 months to 4 years old when it started. Their biological mother, who had a history of drug abuse and had lived with a string of abusive men, was deemed unfit to care for them. She called Justin and Marsha Harris to take her daughters.

ABC News "20/20" has declined to name the biological mother and the three girls out of respect for their privacy.

What happened next led to months of what the couple said were "terrified, sleepless nights" and a dispute about whether they should have taken the little girls in the first place.

Read more here.

October 27, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Abortion Group Asks Top House Republican to Investigate New Videos Posted Online

From Fox News:

A trade group for abortion providers is asking a top House Republican to investigate after secretly recorded videos were posted online by a conservative blogger who wrote that he got the footage from a congressional source.

The National Abortion Federation said Friday that the videos were recorded at recent meetings by the Center for Medical Progress, a small group of anti-abortion activists. The center's furtive recordings of Planned Parenthood officials discussing their retrieval of fetal tissue have sparked an uproar by conservatives and unsuccessful efforts by congressional Republicans to cut Planned Parenthood's federal funds.

The federation obtained a court order in San Francisco against public release of the footage. But in recent days, videos have been posted online at, a conservative website.

That website's founder, Charles C. Johnson, wrote on his site that he has obtained "all of the Planned Parenthood tapes" and got the recordings "from a source on Capitol Hill."

Read more here.

October 26, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)