Family Law Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Perfect Baby

From BuzzFeed:

Routh had already received a DNA test to see whether she carries genetic variants for about 100 major diseases. The new GenePeeks test, however, will match her DNA with the specific genetic information from the father’s sperm to calculate their combined risk of producing a child with any of more than 450 genetic conditions. If her eggs were shown to have some risk in combination with the sperm, then the couple in question would not be offered her eggs as an option.

The new service, launched last week, has so far been used by one couple at Pacific Northwest.

The test comes with a tremendous promise: that couples can have babies with a drastically lowered risk of genetic disease. According to the founders of GenePeeks, the hope is to eventually eliminate the possibility that babies will be born with genetic diseases altogether.

But, with a price tag of just under $2,000 per test, some say that the company is overselling its potential to concerned potential parents with the extra money to spend. They say the company is selling the ability to make advanced predictions when we don’t really understand the genetic roots of most complex diseases.

Some critics also worry about where to draw the line on a technology whose aim is to let us choose what types of babies we want — or don’t want — to make. What constitutes a genetic defect?

“It certainly gives prospective parents more knowledge than is currently available,” Naomi Cahn, a law professor focusing on reproductive technologies at George Washington University, told BuzzFeed News. “But there’s this quest to search for the perfect baby, and there’s no such thing as a perfect baby.”

Read more here.

July 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Iran Makes Divorce By Mutual Consent Harder to Obtain

From Times of Oman:

Iran has changed a law to make divorce by mutual consent invalid unless couples have first undergone state-run counseling, the country's latest move to tackle a rise in broken marriages.

The measures, reported by media at the weekend, are contained in a new family law that a top official said would be implemented by Iran's judiciary.

"A decree of divorce by mutual consent, without counseling, is forbidden," Parnian Ghavam, head of the judiciary's social work and counseling office, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

All Iranians filing for divorce would be obliged to go to a counsellor, she said. "From now on, without this it will not be possible to register divorces of mutual consent."

Read more here.

July 13, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Child Custody Reforms Push for Equal Time with Both Parents

From Herald Times Online:

Nearly two dozen states have been considering shared parenting after divorce or separation as part of a reform of current child custody laws, which could mean more shared time for noncustodial parents with their children.

According to a press release from the National Parents Organization (which advocates for shared parenting in divorce situations), those states currently considering parental reform legislation could "provide children what they most want and need — equal time with both parents in instances of divorce or separation."

The NPO hopes people have taken time during this part of the year when fathers are celebrated to consider "the gender inequality that presently exists in the family courts," and to advocate for change as a gift to fathers everywhere, who want equal time with children.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the issue in April. "Prompted partly by fathers concerned that men for too long have gotten short shrift in custody decisions, about 20 states are considering measures that would change the laws governing which parent gets legal and physical control of a child after a divorce or separation."

Most of the proposals of reform are simply urging that judges implement custody schedules maximizing time for both parents. Some proposals would require equal time for both parents unless there is evidence that the arrangement would not meet the child's best interests, the WSJ wrote.

Read more here.

July 12, 2015 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Parent-Child Visitation In Prison

From KAGS News:

It’s not “cupcakes and lollipops” for most children who visit a parent in prison.

Two-thirds of those children report having negative experiences such as fear, anger, anxiety, and related reactions, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Justice by Melinda Tasca, assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology at Sam Houston State University.

The study, “‘It’s Not All Cupcakes and Lollipops:’ An Investigation of the Predictors and Effects of Prison Visitation for Children during Maternal and Paternal Incarceration,” found that 65 percent of children reacted negatively to prison visitation, resulting in crying, emotional outbursts, depressive symptoms, poor attitudes, acting out, and developmental regression, according to interviews with caregivers of 40 children who have a parent incarcerated in the Arizona Department of Corrections. 

One-third of children were reported to have had a positive experience, which included excitement and improved attitudes and behaviors.

“In-prison visitation may be considered a ‘reset’ button for prisoners, caregivers, and children as they attempt to settle the past, discuss the present and plan for the future,” Tasca said. “At the same time, however, prison visitation can be an arduous undertaking emotionally, physically, and economically for children and caregivers.”

Two primary factors shaped how children responded to visits with an incarcerated mother or father: the institutional environment and the parent-child relationship.

Read more here.

July 11, 2015 in Visitation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Building Families Through Embryo Adoption

From Arizona Daily Star:

After trying to conceive a baby for eight years, Dana and Tim Eriksson never thought they’d see a positive pregnancy test.

But thanks to embryo adoption — an option that allows the adoptive mother to experience pregnancy and give birth to her adopted child through the transfer of donated frozen embryos — Dana became pregnant.

Their son, Stone, was born almost four months ago, making the Erikssons the first local family known to successfully give birth to a Snowflake baby — a term the nonprofit agency the family used, Nightlight Christian Adoptions, coined to describe its embryo adoption program.

There are more than 600,000 cryo-preserved embryos in the United States, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Embryos are left over from couples who go through in vitro fertilization.

“If you made 10 embryos, we’re not going to put 10 embryos into you,” said Holly Hutchison, IVF coordinator at Reproductive Health Center. “We would transfer one. In the case of embryo adoption, you might have a couple that had two or three babies and had embryos remaining and didn’t want them to be discarded, so they allow someone else to use them to create a baby.”

Read more here.

July 10, 2015 in Adoption | 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)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Family Courts

From Professor Jane C. Murphy, writing for the Baltimore Sun:

The gap between rich and poor is clear when you look at the ways in which parents reach decisions about where their children will live and how they will be supported when Mom and Dad are no longer together.

If you have money, you can choose when and how much the court will be involved in your family's "reorganization." The parents hire lawyers who offer clients a range of options for resolving issues about children and finances. Today, divorcing parents of means increasingly choose out-of-court processes such as mediation, negotiation and even collaborative practice to resolve their issues without court involvement — thus avoiding the loss of control and loss of privacy that result from extended court proceedings.

Read more here.

July 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Collaborative Divorce Saves Time and Money


While many associate the word divorce with painful and messy, a new emphasis on conflict resolution has led to a specialty known as "collaborative divorce." Gaining traction in Pennsylvania as well as being part of an international movement, collaborative divorce is saving clients time, heartache, and often thousands of dollars.

Under collaborative law, both parties retain separate, specially trained lawyers whose only job is to help them settle the dispute. All parties agree to work in good faith, combining legal representation with the strength of mediation. 

In January, a draft of the Pennsylvania Uniform Collaborative Law Act (UCLA) gained unanimous approval of the Family Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Last month, a resolution supporting the proposal was approved by the full board and the House of Delegates of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. A bill is expected to be introduced in the legislature later this year.

Read more here.

July 7, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Country's First Gay Divorce Firm Opens

From CBS Philly:

A Philadelphia attorney has opened what he says is the first LGBTQ divorce firm.

Philadelphia lawyer Conor Corcoran, who bills himself as the nation’s first gay divorce attorney, says he is ready to serve gays and lesbians that will need divorces following the Supreme Court’s ruling last week legalizing same-sex marriage across the country.

Corcoran says he celebrated the Supreme Court decision to have marriage equality throughout the United States, but he quickly realized it was unlikely all of the new marriages would end in bliss.

He says that is why he launched a new division entirely devoted to LGBT divorce.

Read more here.

July 6, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Your Chances of Marrying

From the New York Times,

The place where you grow up doesn’t affect only your future income, as we wrote about last week. It also affects your odds of marrying, a large new data set shows.

The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado.

Read more here.


July 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July

uncle sam

July 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Canada's 'Broken' Adoption System Leaves Children Stranded

From CBC News:

A childless couple are giving up on adoption after battling what they say is a broken system that leaves thousands of Canadian children stuck in provincial care instead of placing them with willing families.

"It wasn't impatience that made us stop adoption — it was a loss of faith completely in the system. When you start to wonder, 'What the hell is going on?'" Lori Niles-Hofmann told Go Public.

What was going on, she said, were long, unexplained delays, no answers and no accountability.

Niles-Hofmann and her husband, Martin Hofmann, have been trying to expand their family for more than a decade. When fertility treatments didn't work, they looked at adoption internationally and then locally.

The couple are educated, they describe themselves as loving and willing to welcome a child of any age into their home. They've gone through the lengthy screening process and were deemed "adoption ready" in Ontario.

The screening process took more than a year and included everything from financial checks to criminal background checks. But despite all of it, they now believe they'll never be parents because of what they say is an inefficient and understaffed system.

Read more here.

July 3, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Nation's First Gay Divorce Firm

From CBS Philly:

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia attorney has opened what he says is the first LGBTQ divorce firm.

Philadelphia lawyer Conor Corcoran, who bills himself as the nation’s first gay divorce attorney, says he is ready to serve gays and lesbians that will need divorces following the Supreme Court’s ruling last week legalizing same-sex marriage across the country.

Read more here.


July 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New York Legislature Passes Alimony Laws

From The Wall Street Journal:

The New York state Senate passed sweeping revisions Wednesday to alimony laws that change how some payments are set and eliminate a long-debated requirement that judges calculate the lifetime value of a license or professional degree earned during the marriage, even if the spouse changed careers later.

The Assembly approved the bill last week.

The Senate’s action came five years after the state adopted legislation on alimony that eventually drew criticism from a wide range of bar associations and matrimonial lawyers.

That law introduced a formula to determine temporary alimony, known as maintenance, that is paid out between the filing of a divorce and its completion. It was intended to protect low-income New Yorkers, who may not able to afford lawyers, by providing predictability and consistency in awards.

It worked well for that group, many agreed. But it drew increasing opposition because it applied to people making more than $500,000 a year. Critics said it failed to account for the often more complicated financial situations of higher-income people, such as annual bonuses or mortgage payments. As a result, there were extreme cases of spouses being asked to pay more in child support, alimony and other expenses than their monthly incomes.

Read more here.

June 30, 2015 in Maintenance (alimony) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Kansas Ban on 2nd-Trimester Abortion Procedure Delayed by Judge

From The New York Times:

A Kansas state judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a new law that would have banned the most common method of abortion in the second trimester.

The law, adopted in April and the first of its kind in the nation, would have barred a method known as dilation and evacuation, which doctors say is usually the safest and most convenient abortion technique after about the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy.

Abortion opponents labeled the procedure “dismemberment abortion,” defining it in the Kansas law as “knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus.”

In a bench ruling on Thursday, Judge Larry D. Hendricks of Shawnee County District Court in Topeka, said he would block the law while a lawsuit challenging it proceeds.

Read more here.

June 29, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Uncomplicating Same-Sex Marriage Law

From Margaret Ryznar, writing for the Huffington Post:

With its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court uncomplicated same-sex marriage law. The Court's clear-cut rule that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry replaces the previous piecemeal approach generated by over a decade of new federal court decisions and state laws. Some states had banned same-sex marriage, some states permitted it legislatively, and some states permitted it by state court decision. Some federal courts upheld the state bans, others struck them down. The U.S. Supreme Court has now definitely settled the debate by allowing same-sex marriage across the county.

The U.S. Supreme Court found constitutional protection for same-sex marriage in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Court had previously interpreted this Amendment to encompass various constitutional rights not explicitly enumerated, including, for example, parental rights, the right to marital privacy involving the use of contraceptives, and the right to marry. In Obergefell, the Court confirmed that the right to marry applied to same-sex couples for the same reasons it applied to opposite-sex couples, such as the benefits of supporting marriage in society.

Read more here.

June 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Changes Couples' Finances

From Time:

The much-anticipated Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has been decided, with the majority of judges declaring it a constitutionally protected right.

While 37 states previously recognized same-sex marriages, today’s ruling means that no state can ban same-sex marriage, or refuse to recognize a marriage performed legally in another state.

It also heralds big changes in the way same-sex couples manage their finances. Since the court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, couples who were legally married in a state that recognized their union have been able to file joint federal tax returns and receive other federal benefits. Today’s decision extends that ruling to the rest of the country and affects a host of other financial issues, including Social Security, estate taxes, and retirement planning. 

Read more here.

June 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)