Family Law Prof Blog

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

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cheating on a DNA Test

BIRMINGHAM, U.K. --In a scheme to avoid paying child support, a father fooled the court and doctors by sending another man -- who looked just like him -- to take a paternity test in his place.

Thomas Kenny, 25, was in a long-term relationship when he had a "fling" with another woman who became pregnant sometime in late 2012, The Birmingham Mail reported. Already having one child and another on the way with his long-term girlfriend, the Birmingham Crown Court argued that Kenny tried to dodge paying child support by asking his fling for an abortion, which she declined.

After the child was born, Kenny refused to pay child support and argued that he was not the father. On June 24, 2013 Kenny was ordered by the Child Support Agency to give a DNA sample to prove or disprove his paternity.

That's when, the court alleges, Kenny sent a lookalike to take the test for him.

Read more here.


June 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chicago Frozen Embryo Case

From the New York Times:

In a closely watched, long-running dispute over who gets custody of frozen embryos when the man and woman who created them disagree, an appeals court in Chicago ruled 2 to 1 on Friday that a woman whose fertility was destroyed by cancer treatment could use embryos she created with her ex-boyfriend, over his objections.

The court ruled that there had been an oral contract between the parties — Karla Dunston and Jacob Szafranski. “Karla asked if he would ‘be willing to provide sperm to make pre-embryos with her,’ ” the court wrote. “He responded, ‘Yes,’ telling Karla that he wanted to help her have a child.”

Read more here.

Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

June 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Open Adoption from 1965 Being Investigated

From St Louis Public Radio:

As a well-known gospel singer continues to search for answers as to how and why her daughter was taken from her at birth, a newly opened adoption record holds some clues for the ongoing investigation.  

Zella Jackson Price contends that she gave birth to a baby girl in 1965 at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in north St. Louis, where she was told the infant died. But the child, now named Melanie Gilmore, was instead placed in foster care. Almost fifty years later, Gilmore's children contacted Price through Facebook, and the two were reunited in a Youtube video that went viral.

After petitioning the state for records of adoption and birth, Price and Gilmore’s attorney, Albert Watkins,  received, and then released a 103-page file to the public on Friday. The records include Gilmore’s birth certificate, which has a signature for Price that Watkins believes was forged. The certificate lists Gilmore’s place of birth as City Hospital #1, which Price says is incorrect. Homer G. Phillips was City Hospital #2.

Read more here.

June 16, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Child Custody Laws in India

From Hindustan Times:

The urgent need to resolve child custody cases have prompted the law commission to recommend a root-and-branch change in the way courts resolve child custody battles.

In its report ‘Reforms in Guardianship and Custody Laws in India’, which it submitted to the law ministry on May 23, the commission says that the child’s welfare must be paramount in any decision relating to custody. It also lays out a framework - unprecedented in India - for awarding joint custody of the child whenever it is possible.

As the present law lacks the concept of shared parenting, many cases are reduced to ugly fights for over the sole custody of the child or children. Cases generally conclude when the court names one of the parties as the primary guardian, leaving the other with weekly or fortnightly visitation rights.

And while sole custody is a necessity in many cases, the law presently offers no options for shared custody, even in cases where it is possible and desirable for the child’s best interests. Instead, the all-or-nothing fight for primary custody can often aggravate an already tangled set of circumstances. Experts HT spoke to said courts have had to intervene in many cases to stop estranged couples from using their children to browbeat each other.

Read more here.

June 15, 2015 in Custody (parenting plans), Visitation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ugandan Families Tricked into Adoption

From Catholic Online:

Ugandan families have been bribed, tricked or coerced into giving up their children to U.S. citizens and other foreigners for adoption, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation has found.

Leaked documents, court data, and a series of exclusive interviews with officials, whistleblowers, victims and prospective adoptive parents has revealed a culture of corruption in which children's birth histories are at times manipulated to make them appear as orphans when they are not, a lucrative industry in which lawyers acting on behalf of foreign applicants receive large payments, a mushrooming network of unregistered childcare institutions through which children are primed for adoption, and an absence of reliable court data to counteract allegations of negligence or fraud by probation officers involved in the adoption process.

Read more here.

June 14, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Insurance Payments Used to Pay Overdue Child Support

From Monterey County Herald:

California lawmakers are advancing a bill that would intercept more insurance payments and use them to pay beneficiaries' overdue child support.

About a quarter of insurance companies now voluntarily participate in the program. It collects about $17 million annually from insurance claims, settlements and awards that would otherwise go to individuals who owe child support.

The measure approved by the state Senate on Thursday would make insurance companies' participation mandatory. Sen. Connie Leyva, a Democrat from Chino, says that will greatly increase payments.

SB585 was sought by Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. The bill lets the departments of Insurance and Child Support Services cooperate to match those who owe child support with those set to receive insurance payouts.

Read more here.

June 13, 2015 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Open Adoptions in Nebraska

From Lincoln Journal Star:

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday affirmed a lower court's decision to return a baby to his biological parents after spending more than a year with his adoptive parents.

The case involving two Richardson County couples raises questions about the lack of legal communication and visitation safeguards in so-called open adoptions in Nebraska and could lead to more closed, private adoptions, some family lawyers said Friday.

Private and agency adoptions have increasingly been more open in recent years, meaning more communication about and contact among biological parents and the children they give up for adoption, lawyers said.

The Richardson County case underscores the importance that biological parents understand that when they finalize an adoption in Nebraska they legally surrender their parental rights, other lawyers said.

Jason and Rebecca Wissmann, who lost the baby boy they adopted, hope lawmakers will fix the open adoption problem and spare others the devastation they experienced, their attorney said.

Read more here.

June 12, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Divorce for Same-Sex Couples

From The Tampa Tribune:

A year after being denied by a judge, a lesbian couple in Tampa will be allowed to divorce, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled Friday.

Although Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the appellate court to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on same-sex marriage, the court instead issued a terse opinion reversing an order by a Hillsborough Circuit judge who refused to grant a divorce to Keiba Lynn Shaw and Mariama Changamire Shaw.

“For the reasons expressed in this court’s recent opinion in Brandon-Thomas v. Brandon-Thomas ... we reverse and remand for further proceedings,” the order stated.

The Shaws, who were married in Massachusetts, agreed to their divorce and settled all issues through a process known as collaborative divorce, asking the courts only to issue a legal declaration dissolving their marriage.

Read more here.

June 11, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Moroccan Orphanages

From PBS NewsHour:

Orphanages in Morocco face a unique challenge in trying to find permanent homes for children in their care. A recent law has made it nearly impossible for many would-be parents, especially under the Islamist government.

Moroccan society doesn’t accept unwed mothers, so many prefer to get rid of the child at birth. For the children we find who are older than age 2, we believe their mothers tried to keep their babies with them, but because they are rejected by their families and are unable to find a job, they decided to abandon the child.

The long-term goal of this orphanage is to find these children permanent homes. But that’s not so simple here in Morocco. Morocco, as a Muslim country, doesn’t permit traditional adoption. Instead, there is an alternative system called kafala, translated as custody or guardianship, that can last until the child turns 18. Kafala is just the caretaking of a child by adoptive parents. In adoption, they become like a biological child. That’s to say an actual child of the family, with rights of name, and rights of inheritance, everything. Why does Islam forbid adoption? To avoid the mixing of genes, for example, a brother marrying his sister without knowing it. A key requirement of kafala is that children’s original identity be maintained, including their religion.

Read more here.

June 10, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Rape Survivor Child Custody Act


A new federal law, the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, will protect women who are victims of rape and decide to keep their baby. Shauna Prewitt, an attorney who co-founded Hope After Rape Conception, first spearheaded the idea along with rape survivor Analyn Megison.

Rebecca Kiessling, who has been working to protect mothers across the country who decide against having an abortion after they were victimized, has helped pushed the legislation on a state level. Kiessling tells LifeNews that the new law “provides an incentive to states to pass legislation providing for a means to terminate the parental rights of rapists, using the “clear and convincing evidence” standard from the U.S Supreme Court case of Santosky v Kramer.”

Read more here.

June 9, 2015 in Abortion, Custody (parenting plans), Termination of Parental Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Modern Man

From the Wall Street Journal blog:

By more than two to one, men say that it is harder to be a man today compared with their father’s generation–and a number of the reasons focused on changes in their relationships with women.

This is just one of the insights from a recent Hart Research Associates poll for the Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight Into the 21st Century Man. The online survey was conducted among 818 men 18 and older.

Eighty-five percent of men say they are clear in their role in society today, but 45% say it is harder to be a man today compared to their father’s generation, while just 20% say it is easier to be a man today (35% say it is no easier or harder). For those who say it is harder to be a man, a number of the most common reasons stem from changes in relationships with women, including that women are in a stronger position in the workplace and financially; men are taking on a greater share of household responsibilities; and more demands are being placed on men.

While the old mold in male-female relationships has been broken, it’s clear that the new shape has yet to set. Sixty-three percent of men say they are very comfortable living with or being married to a woman who works outside the home, and 51% are very comfortable with a female partner earning more money than they do. But 56% of men agree, generally speaking, that men are more concerned about making good impressions and earning the respect of other men than earning the respect of women.  And while a majority are very comfortable with their female partner working outside the home, just 24% of men said they would be very comfortable being a stay-at-home dad and not working outside the home.

Read more here.

June 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Wedding Drug Busts

From the Atlantic:

“We had a serious drug problem in the county at that time,” recalls former Shiawassee County Sheriff A.J. LaJoye, known as “Big Jim.” The trouble had started in 1986, when General Motors announced it would close seven plants in the area, starting a depression.Thousands of workers were laid off, and families began to flee the area in search of jobs. In 1987, Money magazine had named Flint the worst place to live in America. Now, dealers were at large, peddling cocaine, marijuana, LSD, and prescription pills.

After months of undercover work, Williams and Moon had information on more than 40 suspects, but the department realized it didn’t have the funds or the manpower to round them all up. So it had to come up with clever ideas. “Cops used to offer parolees free tickets to the Detroit Lions, then arrest them,” recalls Peggy Lawrence, a Flint historian. On one occasion, Moon quietly arrested and locked up stolen property dealer, announced his death in the newspaper, and arrested gang members who showed up at his fake funeral. “Sometimes you gotta do things that are simply funny,” Moon later told a television reporter. “People gotta go to jail, but it don’t always have to be sad.” In 1990, the department planned a particularly elaborate operation: Officers would throw a fake wedding, invite all the suspects, and arrest them.

The sting would become a police legend. Former high-ranking DEA agent Michael Levine, who teaches investigative narcotics procedures around the world, says, “[The detectives] got it on video ... I use that video in training undercover agents today.” Over the years, other agents have pulled off similar stings—like the one in 2009 where two FBI agents, posing as mobsters, staged a wedding onboard a yacht and trapped an Asian counterfeiting gang, scoring over $100 million in cash.

Read more here.

June 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 6, 2015


From abc:

Although research shows the imbalance in household chores for married couples is decreasing, gaps are reappearing when couples have children – even when women are spending the same number of hours at work in the office as their husbands. Four papers in a new online symposium from the Council on Contemporary Families reveal a complicated tangle of workplace policy, gender roles and THE GENERAL LAZINESS OF MEN (Just kidding. Sort of.) that contributes to the inequality.

The Council on Contemporary Families, which researches the whys and hows of modern families, updated common perceptions of household work in dual-income couples with this latest symposium.

Read more here.

June 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Family Law in Vietnam

From Pacific Daily News:

Laws concerning the family aren't established in a vacuum. That is, family laws reflect and incorporate the unique history, culture and religious beliefs of each country, and frequently that of smaller subdivisions of the country, such as states or territories. For those of us living in a particular place, we take these influences for granted and have a difficult time detecting and identifying them within our laws. We are blind to the obvious.

This isn't the case for new arrivals. They are much more sensitive to the interplay these influences have on our family laws. This is especially true where our laws may conflict with those of their state or country of origin.

As an example, a recent immigrant from the Philippines might be startled to learn that under Guam family law, divorce is fairly common and relatively inexpensive and easy to process. This stands in stark contrast to Philippine law, which severely restricts the ability of Filipinos to end a marriage. Divorces are forbidden. An annulment is possible, but for social and financial reasons, infrequently pursued.

Read more here.

June 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Australian Adoptions at Lowest Levels

From the Canberra Times:

According to statistics released late last year, Australian adoptions are currently at their lowest level since records began at the end of the 1960s. At its peak in the early 70s, there were almost 10,000 adoptions a year. In 2013-14 just 317 adoptions were finalised - a 9 per cent drop from 2012-13 and a 76 per cent drop since 1989-90. 

There are certainly fewer children available to adopt. It is no longer a taboo for unmarried women to have babies and there are specific payments that support single mums. Treatments like IVF mean that some couples who may have previously looked to adopt can now have biological children, while the mainstream use of effective birth control now means fewer unwanted babies are born. 

There has also been a push back towards keeping children with their biological parents, where possible. For adoptions overseas, some countries like Korea and China are putting more emphasis on keeping children in the country. Others are putting in place quotas and cracking down on corruption. 

But adoption advocates have also been pressing federal and state governments to make it easier to adopt children, arguing that the process is strangled by bureaucracy for both overseas and local adoptions. And that it simply takes way too long. 

Read more here.

June 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Adoption in India

From the Washington Post:

When Shreya Roy applied to adopt an orphan in New Delhi in 2012, she was told that the wait could be at least three years — if she was lucky.

“We called about 25 children’s adoption homes in the city. They kept saying, ‘There are no babies, there are no babies,’ ” said Roy, a 35-year-old public relations professional. “It just did not make sense. Just look around — there are so many abandoned and poor babies.”

Roy’s frustration reflects what one government official calls India’s “shameful” record on adoption: With more than 30 million orphans in the country, according to one estimate, only about 2,500 were adopted last year, down from 5,700 four years ago. Prospective parents, meanwhile, are stymied by complicated rules, long delays, overcautious bureaucracy and illegal trafficking.

Read more here.

June 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Saudi Arabia Stats

From Arab News:

Saudi courts have received 84,000 child custody and dowry-related cases in total during the past seven months, according to data released by the Ministry of Justice recently. 

Cases of child custody and dowry issues reached 43,000 and 41,000, respectively, with Riyadh registering the highest portion of dowry cases at 1,122, followed by Jeddah (768) and Makkah (394), Al-Watan daily reported.

Similarly, child custody cases were the highest in Riyadh at 1,046, followed by Jeddah (764) and Makkah (473), the Ministry report said.

Read more here.


June 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Child Custody

From The Daily News of Newburyport:

It's been more than two decades since Daniel Sabbatelli was locked in a contentious divorce that ended with him getting limited access to his three daughters. The emotional toll hasn't diminished.

"The courts don't treat both parents equal," he said. "It's winner-take-all."

Sabbatelli, a Woburn electrical contractor, is one dozens of advocates now arguing that parents should be entitled to equal custody of their children.

Groups like the Boston-based National Parents Organization, to which Sabbatelli belongs, have thrown support behind legislation that requires family court judges to consider "joint custody" in most divorce cases, unless a parent is deemed unfit, along with a raft of other proposed changes to custody laws.

Read more here.

June 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Child Support Fraud

From KCRG:

A Maquoketa woman will spend 18 months in prison for collecting nearly $100,000 in child support payments for a baby she never had.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice for the Southern District of Iowa news release, in 2007, 34-year-old Johna L. Vandemore — aka Johna Volger and Johna Ratlif — was in a short-term relationship with the victim. After that relationship ended, Vandemore told the man she was pregnant.

Despite the fact that there was no child, Vandemore demanded a lump sum of financial support from the victim or she said she would take him to court, authorities said. The victim agreed to make monthly payments of $1,000, plus cover all child-related monthly expenses, according to the news release. Between August 2007 and October 2013, Vandemore received 90 separate payments totaling $95,850.

Read more here.

May 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 29, 2015

GAL's in CT

From the Connecticut Law Tribune:

During testimony before the legislature last year, it seemed like the loudest voices in the debate over family court reform were those of divorcing parents angry at a legal system they believed had failed them.

Dozens of people testified in favor of increased regulation for court-appointed guardians ad litem, who are appointed by judges and inform the court of the "best interests of the child" in high-conflict custody cases. Some parents complained of staggering legal bills brought on, in part, by GALs whose intervention caused cases to drag on for years. In turn, lawmakers approved changes, including a new sliding fee scale for court-appointed GALs and increased scrutiny of their appointment by judges.

The high drama of 2014 has a sequel this year. A bill introduced by state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, D-Hartford, and supported by several legislators would further regulate GALs. But this time around, family law practitioners are speaking out. They say the proposed reforms, which would allow guardians ad litem to be sued, would further reduce the number of attorneys willing to serve as GALs and prove damaging for children caught in the middle of parental custody battles.

Read more here.

May 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)