Tuesday, January 19, 2016
From NBC News:
Deadbeat dads in Arizona, beware. Your mug could be plastered all over social media for the world to see.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey this week launched a campaign to crack down on "the worst of the worst" parents who are ignoring child support payments, posting their names and photos to Twitter and Facebook. The hope is that the public shaming will make some of them pay up and give other dads (and moms) second thoughts about evading child support.
Ducey, a father of three, called out "deadbeat dads" in his State of the Union address on Monday, saying he was troubled by the high number of vulnerable children in Arizona.
"For too long, you've been able to remain anonymous — able to skirt your financial and legal responsibilities with no shame. Not anymore," the governor proclaimed. Effective immediately, he said, the state would begin posting the photos, names and money owed by "these losers" to social media, with the hashtag #deadbeat.
Read more here.
Monday, January 18, 2016
Jeffrey A. Parness (Northern Illinois University - College of Law) has posted Challenges in Handling Imprecise Parentage Matters, 28 Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 401 (2015) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Legal parentage under American state laws is significantly and rapidly evolving. And, it is increasingly imprecise. No longer is legal parentage only defined at precise moments in time or for particular conduct, as by giving birth, having biological ties, marriage to the birth mother at time of conception or birth, name placement on a birth certificate, or formal adoption. Both men and women can now become legal parents, as through de facto parenthood or equitable adoption, where neither the time of the relevant conduct nor the conduct prompting parentage can be precisely determined. Because legal parentage increasingly depends upon fluid and imprecise doctrines, lawyers and judges must be vigilant in handling legal disputes implicating parentage.
Together with the growing phenomenon of imprecise legal parentage, lawyers and judges are also challenged because an established legal parentage in one setting often is inapplicable in other settings. Parentage under law is frequently contextual. Thus, a father for child support purposes often is not a father for childcare purposes.
Further, lawyers and judges are now challenged both in proceedings first establishing and later overriding legal parentage. Legal parentage increasingly can be overridden via imprecise norms, including standards on waivers, forfeitures, rebuttals, and rescissions. The numbers of disestablished parents are growing due to reliable and inexpensive genetic testing, births during marriage resulting from adultery, and greater use of assisted reproduction.
Moreover, lawyers and judges investigating both the establishment and disestablishment of legal parentage are challenged due to significant interstate variations. As one distinguished commentator observed: “The relative importance of biology, intent, contract, and parental function varies tremendously by jurisdiction and even by case, adding confusion and unpredictability to a determination of critical importance.” Because parents and their children are quite mobile, in resolving parentage disputes, choices increasingly must be made between competing and quite different imprecise American state parentage laws.
This article examines the challenges for lawyers and judges investigating parentage. First, it will survey varying American state imprecise parentage laws. Then, it will examine the investigative norms guiding parentage inquiries. In conclusion, it will review the possible results of failed inquiries and offer suggestions to lawyers and judges who must contend with an array of differing fluid, imprecise, and contextual American state parentage laws.
Biological anthropologists look at skeletal remains of past cultures to gain insight into how earlier peoples lived, and forensic anthropologists work with modern-day law enforcement to decipher skeletal evidence and solve crimes. Forensic experts at North Carolina State University have now published guidance on how research into modern-day forensic analysis of child-abuse victims can be used to shed light on how children of earlier cultures were treated.
"Unfortunately, we have a lot of experience in studying the skeletal remains of children in criminal investigations to determine how they were treated and how they died," says Ann Ross, a professor of anthropology at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the work. "We can use what we've learned in modern populations to provide insight into the behavior of historic and prehistoric populations - particularly in regard to child labor, child abuse and child murder."
The skeletons of children are vastly different from those of adults; they're not just smaller. In their paper, the researchers draw on decades of research to explain how the biomechanics and healing of child skeletons change, depending on the child's age.
The researchers pay particular attention to how anthropologists can differentiate between accidental and intentional injuries in children.
"For example, some combinations of injuries are highly indicative of abuse, such as multiple rib fractures at different stages of healing," Ross says. "That's a red flag."
The researchers also include a modern-day case study as an example of how difficult it can be to interpret the skeletal evidence. In this case, what first looked like a case of physical abuse turned out to be a case of child neglect - with some of the skeletal abnormalities being caused by rickets and scurvy.
Read more here.
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Thursday against the anti-abortion activists who secretly taped the group's officials talking about the sale of fetal tissue and released the heavily edited videos last year.
The videos sparked a political firestorm in Washington, with Republican lawmakers accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale and trying unsuccessfully to strip the group of federal funding.
Since the videos began surfacing in July, Planned Parenthood officials have maintained that the group does not profit from its sale of tissue donations to medical research and uses any money received to cover its costs.
And on Thursday, the group said it was going on the offensive against the group who produced the videos, The Center for Medical Progress.
"We are filing this lawsuit to hold accountable the people behind this reckless and malicious smear campaign that was designed only to spread lies about Planned Parenthood," Kathy Kneer, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California told reporters in a conference call.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in San Francisco, alleges that the defendants set up a bogus tissue procurement company and used fake corporate and personal identities to lie their way into private meetings that they illegally taped.
Read more here.
Saturday, January 16, 2016
From The Telegraph:
A new incentive was launched in Sweden this week encouraging fathers to take three months paid paternity leave. Like several European countries, Sweden has a ‘daddy quota’ of paid time off that’s allocated to couples as a unit, but only allowed to be taken by the father and therefore lost if he chooses not to take it. The new 30-day extension, which came into force on January 1, follows a successful increase to two months in 2002.
It's a policy designed to ensure men take more of the childcare burden, and the latest change is expected to be embraced by fathers in Sweden, which was the first to introduce gender-indifferent parental leave in 1974. Already, men there take an average of three months off work to look after their newborns; in Britain less than 10% exceed the statutory two weeks, often citing a fear of falling behind in the rat race.
Currently UK fathers are eligible to take one or two weeks paid leaveany time within 56 days of the birth. As a result of changes championed by Nick Clegg in 2014, there is also an option of taking between two and 26 additional weeks off, with each extra week subtracted from your partner's remaining allocation.
The Scandinavian stances on parental leave – as with so many other social policies – may make the UK's seem staid and imbalanced, then, but how do our rights compare with fathers around the world?
Read more here.
Friday, January 15, 2016
From ABA Journal:
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage does not make commitment ceremonies into marriages under New York law, an appeals court there ruled Tuesday.
According to the New York Law Journal, the state court system’s Appellate Division, First Department, ruled in Estate of Mauricio Leyton that Leyton’s 2002 commitment ceremony with David Hunter did not qualify as a marriage under state law. Leyton died in 2013.
The ruling means that Hunter is not disinherited even though he and Leyton split in 2010. Leyton’s 2001 will named Hunter as a 50 percent beneficiary and executor, and he never changed it after the breakup. Leyton’s mother would have inherited the entire estate if Hunter had been disinherited. Leyton’s sister brought the case on behalf of her mother.
State law provides that a former spouse is disinherited if a divorce takes place after a will is executed. But the court said state law requires the divorce to be effected by judicial decree. Though same-sex marriage was legalized in New York in 2011, the appellate court said, the couple made no effort to have their split recognized as a divorce. And the separation itself was not marked with any sort of ceremony.
Read more here.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Chinese media say it's the first legal case to center on the rights of same-sex couples to marry: a gay man has sued a civil affairs bureau in Hunan province for rejecting his attempt to register his marriage to his boyfriend. A court accepted the case Tuesday.
The local court in Changsha, in central China's Hunan province, was responding to a filing made in December by Sun Wenlin, 26, who says an official in Changsha refused his application to marry his partner because their union wasn't between a man and a woman.
The police also came to Sun's house, he told China's Global Times, saying, "The officer kept emphasizing that it is important to have a child to carry on one's family name, but I can't abide by people imposing their values on me."
We should note that while the Global Times calls Sun's name a pseudonym, Reutersand The Wall Street Journal cite it as the man's actual name. Sun tells both of those news outlets that he's optimistic the court will rule in his favor.
Rights activists increasingly have been pushing for same-sex marriage to be legalized in China, particularly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry. Less than a week after that decision last summer, a prominent lesbian couple held a public wedding ceremony in Beijing.
Read more here.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
From NBC News:
The chief justice of Alabama's supreme court ordered state officials Wednesday to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
But legal experts say the effect of his order is likely to be minimal and short-lived.
Roy Moore, acting in his capacity as the administrative head of the state court system, said he was acting because "confusion and uncertainty" exists among the Alabama officials, known as probate judges, who issue marriage licenses in the state.
Moore said they don't know whether to abide by a ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court last March, which upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage, or the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June declaring such bans unconstitutional.
Only the Alabama Supreme Court can resolve that issue, Moore said.
The confusion persists, he said, because the June ruling applied immediately only to the four states whose bans were directly challenged — Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
But Moore's order ignores what's been happening in the federal courts. A federal judge in Alabama issued a ruling in May, declaring the state's ban on same-sex marriage invalid and forbidding probate judges to deny marriage licenses to gay couples.
And in October, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage nullified the earlier decision of Alabama's Supreme Court.
Read more here.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
From Huffington Post:
Clai Lasher-Sommers was 13 when her abusive stepfather shot her in the back. It took her six months to walk again. On Tuesday, the 58-year-old sat steps from President Barack Obama as he announced his plan to curb gun violence through executive action. A few minutes into his emotional speech, Obama acknowledged Lasher-Sommers' pain -- and the pain of countless other women across the nation -- when he explicitly named domestic abuse as a source of deadly gun violence in the U.S.
Lasher-Sommers was relieved.
"As women who end up living in domestic violence situations, one of the things that happens is that you lose all power," she said. "When you don’t hear your government officials talking about it, you are just silenced one more time."
Obama’s executive action on guns, while modest, includes a number of proposals that advocates and gun violence prevention experts say could help protect domestic violence survivors from armed abusers. That’s important, as research has found that the presence of a gun makes it five times more likely that a woman will be murdered by her abuser.
A proposal to expand the definition of who is engaged in the business of selling guns -- and therefore must be licensed and conduct background checks -- could reduce domestic-related gun violence, said Allison Anderman, staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
"It means that more people will have to get a dealer license," she said. "Those people are more likely now to catch domestic abusers who try to buy guns, and it will limit the number of domestic abusers who will be able to buy guns without a background check."
Under Obama’s plan, Anderman added, local authorities will be notified when prohibited individuals try to buy a gun.
Read more here.
Monday, January 11, 2016
From Phoenix New Times:
Thousands of Arizonans who paid off their child support debt continued to be marked as subject to property liens because of a state Department of Economic Security screwup that officials say is almost fixed.
Ticked-off customers — including some with lawyers — finally drove the agency to do something about the problem, according to insiders. Dozens of people had to be hired to help figure it out.
When asked about the snafu, DES officials acknowledged that a lengthy review of closed, past-due child support cases completed last year showed that 8,241 people should have had their liens removed. The agency also determined that 14,016 open child support cases need to be audited for liens that should be released; that review will occur sometime this year.
The state has about 321,000 active child support cases, with the state and county splitting them roughly in half. Besides typical cases, the state automatically receives cases that involve federally assisted foster care and recipients of Medicaid or welfare. Under previous rules, if someone ordered to pay child support falls more than two months behind, an administrative lien is placed on all current and future property they own. (The state recently changed that to four months.) The lien prevents the person from selling the property, typically a home, until the past-due payments are satisfied.
The problem was that "liens were not properly tracked and documented," according to information provided by Tasya Peterson, DES spokeswoman. Computer hardware from the 1980s at the agency, including a mainframe ATLAS system, "allows for user entry errors."
Read more here.
Sunday, January 10, 2016
From Belleville News-Democrat:
After the holidays, divorce lawyers tend to get really busy. This coming year is going to be even busier.
The Illinois General Assembly passed the first revision of the “Dissolution of Marriage Act” in decades that changes how divorces are handled by the courts. The new law goes into effect Friday.
“It’s not perfect, but we were told perfection is the enemy of good,” said Edwardsville lawyer Jennifer Shaw, who helped revamp Illinois’ divorce law.
The changes will affect everyone filing for divorce in Illinois after Jan. 1. In 2015, more than 1,000 divorces were filed in St. Clair County and 1,200 in Madison County.
Some of the changes cover new terminology that reflects recent changes in society, such as gay marriage. Husband and wife are now referred to as the more gender-neutral “spouses.” Child custody is now referred to as “allocation of parenting time and responsibility.”
“It takes the sting out of the word ‘custody,’” Shaw said. “The judge will still make the decision on the amount of time the child spends with either parent by what’s in the child’s best interest.”
It also makes the process less confrontational.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
From Michigan Radio:
A new law would protect rape victims from a custody battle with their rapists when a child is conceived.
The Michigan Senate unanimously passed legislation this week that would allow courts to terminate a rapist's parental rights to a child conceived by the rape of the mother.
Senate Bill 629 was introduced by Republican Sen. Rick Jones earlier this month.
"I want to ensure that victims of rape are not faced with a custody battle from their rapist," Jones said.
Current state law allows a court to terminate parental rights once a rapist is criminally convicted.
SB 629 would allow courts to terminate all rights upon the victim petitioning before a family court judge, requiring a lower burden of proof.
Read more here.
Friday, January 8, 2016
From New York Daily News:
A Brooklyn man who’s serving a 40-year prison sentence for raping his abused wife has lost his galling bid to get alimony payments from her.
The callous creep, who’s being identified in court papers by his initials TT to protect his wife’s identity, claimed he supported his wife, identified as AT, when she went to school with “hustled cigarettes” and by collecting public assistance.
In a decision made public Wednesday, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Sunshine found TT hadn’t even done that much — but that he had beat up his wife so many times during their marriage that she wound up losing her job because of her excessive absences.
The judge also found TT’s claims he helped his wife with her schooling to be ridiculous because he was locked up on drug and gun charges at the time.
The couple tied the knot in 2002, and TT “engaged in extreme acts of physical and sexual violence” against his wife throughout the marriage, the judge found. He was arrested twice for attacking her, but AT testified that he’d brutalized her “a lot of times.”
Asked how many times she’d been assaulted in all, she testified she “can’t count, it’s been so many.”
Read more here.
Thursday, January 7, 2016
After a decades-long push, China has finally enacted its first nationwide law prohibiting domestic violence.
The ground-breaking legislation covers both married and co-habiting couples and those living in foster families. It comes into force March 1, state news agency Xinhua reported.
It also defines domestic violence for the first time, and includes pyschological abuse as well as physical violence.
However, critics say there are still gaps -- it excludes same-sex couples and makes no mention of sexual violence.
Until 2001, when China amended its marriage law, abuse wasn't considered grounds for divorce and violence in the home has traditionally been regarded as a private matter to be dealt with by family members.
The high-profile divorce in 2013 of Li Yang, the founder of the "Crazy English" teaching method and his American wife Kim Lee, forced the issue out of the shadows, Xinhua says.
In 2011, Lee posted pictures of her bruised face on Chinese social media and accused her husband of domestic violence. She later said in an essay in the New York Times that police had told her no crime had occurred.
Li admitted beating his wife but attacked her for breaking with Chinese tradition and discussing private matters in public. The episode triggered a massive public debate on domestic violence.
Read more here.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
From The Good Men Project:
Children don’t care about child support. In fact, unless their parents sit them down and explain it to them, most children don’t even know what child support is. Many children, in their independent mind frame (especially younger children), believe that the money is used to provide their wants and needs: grows on trees, can be picked up at leisure from the bank, is unlimited on “those cards you swipe at the store," flows freely out of money making machines (i.e. ATMs), or is unlimited as long as you go to work.
So although child support is often our top concern as parents, children could care less.
Over the years, I’ve interviewed numerous children in connection with my child custody law and mediation practice. When asked about their feelings and wishes, NOT ONE child responded that they wanted more child support from daddy. Similarly, not one wished daddy made more money or anything else related to money, except, I have had a few children request that their dad didn’t have to work so much so they could spend more time with them. Out of all of my interviews, the only time the words “child support” were mentioned, was when one child said, “I wish mommy wasn’t so mad at my dad about child support so that I can see him.”
What children consistently seem to care about the most when dad, child custody and or/support is at issue, is being able to spend time with their dad, and without worry.
Being a parent requires much more than “having/paying money.” In my line of work, I’ve realized that society has so many people so wrapped up in riches and material things that the things that are most important are often disregarded for things that don’t compare. Children indeed need both money and quality time with both parents–one is not at the mercy of the other. I would suggest that moms who are using child support to interfere with the child’s relationship with their father look at how that behavior can be harmful to their children.
Read more here.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
From Yahoo News:
WA doctors are being swamped by women aged in their 30s wanting “egg-timer” fertility tests that could be doing more harm than good.
Experts warn the popular blood tests are unreliable, with one woman distraught after the results suggested she was going through menopause, only to later find out she was actually pregnant.
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on tests, women are being advised to track their own cycle with a $10 smart phone app and a thermometer.
The Anti-Mullerian hormone or egg-timer test has been used in Australia for more than a decade by women wanting to check how many eggs they have left.
But a recent study of almost 500 women aged 20 to 44, published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, found the original AMH test underestimated fertility by 68 per cent.
While the accuracy of the test was improved in 2013 after a spate of false low readings, experts say women should still be wary, and the tests often led to unnecessary referrals to specialists.
University of WA professor of reproductive medicine Roger Hart said that every time he gave a talk to GPs they complained about being harassed by women wanting to be tested.
Read more here.
Monday, January 4, 2016
From ABC News:
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order late Thursday preventing Arkansas from enforcing new limits on how the abortion pill is administered.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a 14-day delay in enforcing two sections of the law, which was scheduled to go into effect Friday. Baker wrote in her ruling that "for now" she found enforcing those sections would cause a greater threat of irreparable harm to Planned Parenthood's two Arkansas clinics and the patients than the potential injuries to the state by maintaining the status quo.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed a lawsuit Monday challenging one portion of the law requiring doctors administering abortion pills to contract with a physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital and agrees to handle any complications. It also challenged another portion requiring providers to follow guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when administering the pills.
Baker wrote that for now, she believed Planned Parenthood had a substantial chance of succeeding in its argument that the requirement to contract with a physician, "would result in an undue burden and have the effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman's right to choose to have an abortion of a nonviable fetus."
The judge also wrote that the FDA-approved regimen for administering the pill "does not appear to be the current standard of care."
Susan Allen, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said she had confidence in the merits of the case against the law passed in March by the majority-Republican Legislature.
Read more here.
Sunday, January 3, 2016
From Business Insider:
Chung Sang-hoon, 34, has taken a year off of his intensive sales job to stay at home with his children.
Taking paternity leave was previously unheard of in South Korea. Now, a small group of "superdads" are joining a growing, government-encouraged movement.
"The reason I took childcare leave is I want to be different from my father's generation," Sang-hoon said. "Everything is definitely worth it, from preparing breakfast to doing the dishes. I can live for the sake of values I find important."
His wife, Jeon Jeong-mi, said her husband taking paternity leave has been a huge help to her career.
"I can work without feeling pressure," she told Reuters. "I don't have to worry about home. And I do not have to go home early. Also, I do not need to feel sorry for my kids whenever I go to work in the morning."
These "superdads" are challenging gender roles in South Korea, where men are expected to work long hours and be minimally involved with raising kids.
The country's rigid gender expectations have led South Korean women to believe they're being punished in the workplace because they may have to take time off to care for their kids down the road, per Reuters.
As a result, South Korea has the lowest birth rate of wealthy nations, which is why South Korean President Park Geun-hye has made increasing the number of men who take paternity leave a priority — both to address the low birth rate and to give women's careers a boost.
Read more here.
Saturday, January 2, 2016
From NBC News:
Should those irreconcilable differences suddenly become reconcilable, don't go looking to get un-divorced in New Hampshire.
The state's Supreme Court this month upheld a lower court ruling refusing to vacate a New Castle couple's 2014 divorce after 24 years of marriage.
Terrie Harmon and her ex-husband, Thomas McCarron, argued on appeal that their divorce decree was erroneous because they mended fences and are a couple once more. But the justices, in a unanimous ruling issued Dec. 2, said the law specifically allows them to grant divorces — not undo them.
Courts in some states — including Illinois, Nebraska, Mississippi, Arkansas, Maryland and Kentucky — will vacate divorces within a certain time frame or under certain circumstances, at the parties' request. Others — including New York and South Dakota — maintain they, like New Hampshire, have no statutory authority to undo a divorce.
Attorney Joshua Gordon, appointed to defend the lower court's ruling, said allowing the couple's divorce to be undone could jeopardize the finality of all divorces.
"Divorce is a uniquely fraught area of litigation," Gordon argued. "For divorced couples, it is often important to have the solace of knowing that their former spouse is indeed former."
Read more here.
Friday, January 1, 2016
From The Denver Post:
With the approaching first anniversary of the launch of a toll-free statewide telephone hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect, child-welfare officials are urging Coloradans to stay vigilant if they're concerned about a child's safety and well-being.
The Colorado Department of Human Services announced that as of Dec. 20, state and county officials had received nearly 205,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect since the hotline went live on Jan. 1 — both through the new state hotline and from people contacting counties' and the state's human services offices.
"There is a growing understanding in our community that we all play a role in keeping our kids safe," state Department of Human Services Director Reggie Bicha said in a news release.
Bicha said the 1-844-CO-4-KIDS hotline is integral to help Coloradans spot and report signs of child abuse and neglect. "One call can save a child," he said.
Of the total 204,983 calls received by Dec. 20 about possible child abuse or neglect, 26,461 were made on the state hotline, according to Department of Human Services spokesman Lee Rasizer. Of that total, 4,516 came from Boulder County, 706 from Broomfield County and 5,395 from Weld County.
Under a system in which calls are evaluated and determinations made about whether further assessments and investigations are merited, and how rapidly those assessments and investigations need to be made, 88,441 of the total calls to the state's hotline and Colorado counties were accepted for assessment and 32,709 were assessed and investigated, Rasizer said.
Read more here.