Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, March 6, 2017

UN voices concern over Bangladesh child marriage law

From CNN:

Girls under the age of 18 can be married off by their parents in undefined special circumstances under a new Bangladesh law passed this week.

The Bangladesh Parliament approved the new legislation by a voice vote Monday. It allows exceptions to the minimum marriage age, currently set at 18 for women and 21 for men.
Under the Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2017, parents or guardians can get a court order to allow children to be married if it is in their "best interests."
There is no minimum age for when these special considerations can apply, nor any definition of what "best interests" could mean, but human rights groups are concerned the law could lead to rape victims or impregnated minors being married to their abusers.
Read more here.

March 6, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Indiana families living in toxic homes due to enforcement breakdown

From NBC News 13:

A 4-month Eyewitness News investigation finds thousands of Indiana drug houses have not been quarantined and cleaned – as required by law – because local health departments and state agencies are failing to enforce regulations meant to keep Hoosiers safe. As a result, unsuspecting families across Indiana are now living in toxic homes that are supposed to be sitting empty.

Jenny and James Boggs learned about the state's broken enforcement system firsthand, after they purchased a home in Jennings County.

"We always wanted to own our own place, and that's why we jumped on it," said Jenny, who moved into the 3-bedroom trailer near North Vernon in 2011.

"It had a nice yard and plenty of room for the kids," explained her husband, James. "It looked OK to us. We didn't see anything wrong with it."

But soon after the couple moved in with their five young children, Jenny began getting terrible headaches. James and the kids developed serious breathing problems – sometimes requiring extended treatment at Columbus Regional Hospital. They also developed rashes and skin problems.

"Me and the kids were getting sick all the time," James said. "I had no breathing problems until we moved into that trailer."

The Boggs family had no idea their new home had recently been used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Read more here.

March 5, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What's behind Indiana's increase in child abuse reports?

From The Greensburg Daily News:

Shortly after an elementary principal alerted deputies something might be wrong with a child who had been absent from school for a few days, the frightened 9-year-old boy was laying in the fetal position in the lobby of the Johnson County Sherriff’s Office.

The boy’s pale face was bruised, scratched and cut. His eyes were partially shut and droopy, strained with broken blood vessels. Dried blood and drainage was coming from his ears. His neck was branded with ligature marks. He was shaking.

When a deputy tried to speak to him that night in October, the boy was disoriented. He couldn’t talk clearly and cried out that he was hungry and asked for food, according to court documents.

The boy’s mother demonstrated to police how she had intentionally and repeatedly hit her son in the groin three or four times, causing swelling, the documents said. She indicated she had lost control and knew it was wrong, but that she did it anyways. She didn’t send him or his brother to school because of their visible injuries.

The boy’s mother, Krystle Nikole Case, 31, was recently charged with two felonies: neglect of a dependent and battery resulting in serious bodily injury to a child. A judge issued a no-contact order that will keep her from seeing her son, even if she is released during her case.

This story is one of nearly 27,000 confirmed child abuse or neglect cases in Indiana each year.

The number of Hoosier child abuse and neglect cases has risen consistently since 2011, according to the Indiana Youth Institute’s annual KIDS COUNT in Indiana Data Book.

The report — which also gives data on homelessness, infant mortality, youth suicide and other topics — details how children are “surviving, not thriving” through 2015 statistics and year-to-year comparisons of the various challenges they face.

James Wide, deputy communications director for Indiana’s Department of Child Services, said although the number of child abuse reports are going up, it’s not for a bad reason. Wide attributes the increased number of reports to more cases being filed because of more awareness about child abuse issues, not necessarily because more incidents are occurring.

His office deals with all sorts of child welfare issues, including handling child support and protecting children from all types of abuse and neglect.

Before 2012, the state didn’t have a centralized child abuse and neglect hotline. Before the hotline, Wide said there were more than 300 numbers scattered across the state that weren’t always answered by a professional — or answered at all.

But the introduction of the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline streamlined reporting. Anyone who calls 1-800-800-5556, any time, is connected to a trained family case manager to describe what they think might be going on with a child.

Read more here.

March 4, 2017 in Child Abuse, Resources - Child Custody, Resources - Children & the Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Abortion bill targets parents' rights in cases of pregnant minors

From The Indianapolis Star:

When a pregnant minor seeks an abortion in Indiana without her parents' consent, she has one option: a hearing involving her attorney and a juvenile court judge who decides whether she is mature enough to make the decision for herself.

A bill that advanced in the Indiana Senate on Wednesday would give her parents the right to enter the courtroom and even testify on whether she is competent to make the decision.

Supporters of Senate Bill 404 say parents should have a role in deciding their daughter's well-being and whether she can undergo a surgical procedure such as an abortion. Opponents say requiring parent involvement could push pregnant minors into dangerous situations because their greatest fear is often being disowned by their families.

The bill also would give parents the right to sue adults who help their child get an abortion without their consent. And it opens up abortion doctors to potentially losing their medical licenses if they fail to properly inform the state when they provide an abortion to a girl younger than 16.

The bill, approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-4 vote, is the latest front in the bitter battle over abortion rights in Indiana. It drew support from a constellation of groups opposed to abortion — Indiana Right to Life, the Indiana Catholic Conference, the Indiana Family Institute and the American Family Association of Indiana. It was opposed by Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, family law attorneys, a pediatrician and a doctor of adolescent medicine.

The scope of the war is evident in the language of the bill. Corrine Purvis, an attorney with Indiana Right to Life, said passages were adapted from a law in Missouri. Other provisions have been adopted by as many as 15 states.

Read more here.

March 3, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sir Nicholas Wall, once Britain's top family law judge, commits suicide after dementia diagnosis

From The Telegraph:

Sir Nicholas Wall, formerly Britain's most senior family law judge, has committed suicide after being diagnosed with dementia, his family has announced.

Sir Nicholas, 71, was appointed President of the Family Division in 2010, but had to retire on health grounds in 2012. He was initially diagnosed with depression, before recently finding out he had dementia.

His family placed a notice in today's Times newspaper which said he had "died by his own hand on 17th February 2017".

It added: "After years of suffering, he was recently diagnosed with a rare dementia of the fronto-temporal lobe."

The death notice included a verse from Tennyson's poem Tithonus: "The woods decay, the woods decay and fall/ The vapours weep their burthen to the ground/ Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath/ And after many a summer dies the swan."

Later, the family released a statement which said: "We are sad to confirm the death of Sir Nicholas Wall, who was not only a highly-respected former President of the Family Division but also a much-loved husband, father and grandfather.

"Sir Nicholas took his own life having suffered for several years from a rare neurological disease called fronto-temporal lobe dementia that had only recently been diagnosed."

Sir Nicholas was found dead in Sevenoaks, Kent in the early hours of last Friday. Kent Police attended the scene and asked the Metropolitan Police to inform his wife Margaret at the family home in Clapham, south London. His death was described as "non-suspicious".

Read more here.

March 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Trump’s order provides ammunition for litigants in family law matters

Written by Thomas Velarde for Washington Top News:

On January 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed the Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” (“Trump’s Order”).  This Executive Order allows individuals to be deported for a variety of reasons for which they were previously not deportable.  Trump’s Order will directly impact family law matters related to domestic violence, child custody, child support, and spousal support, as aliens may be deported before, during, or after such proceedings.

Deportation Under President Donald J. Trump

President Trump’s Order states that aliens should be deported for having committed, attempted, or conspired to commit certain acts.  Aliens can be deported for acts of terrorism, crimes of dishonesty, felonies, drug activity, treason, abuse of their families, espionage, sabotage, failing to register as a sex offender, owning, purchasing, selling, or possessing a firearm, certain illegal immigration activities, and certain violations of human rights.

Trump’s Order also states that aliens can be deported for the following: conviction of any criminal offense; being charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved; committing acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense; engaging in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with an official matter or application to a government agency; having abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; being subjected to an order of removal but not yet having been deported; and if in the judgement of an immigration officer, the alien poses a risk to public safety or national security.

Examples of conduct that can result in deportation under Trump’s Order include: obtaining Medicare, SNAP, WIC, or any other government program benefit fraudulently, or misrepresenting a fact in any government form; using someone else’s social security number to work; and being subject to a removal order but remaining in the country.

Unlike under President Obama, under Trump’s Order, speeding, DUI, drunk in public, and many other offenses can result in deportation.  Further, no conviction is required.  Rather, to be deportable, an alien simply must have committed or been charged with the act.

Even non-criminal conduct can result in deportation—merely admitting to abusing drugs or being a drug addict can result in deportation.  In addition, if an immigration officer subjectively judges that an alien is a risk to the United States, that alien can be deported.

Read more here.

March 1, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What’s Mine Is Mine, What’s Yours Is Yours - Or Maybe Not

From The Huffington Post:

You are going to get married. You have substantial net worth. You have a business that you have built up over the years and it is now doing well. You are excited about your upcoming marriage and you don’t want to do anything that might take the excitement out of the process. Since you already own the business and you already have accumulated your worth, there seems to be nothing to worry about. After all, community property, as you understand it, encompasses that which you acquire during the course of your marriage. You already have the business and the assets going in, so in the off-chance it does not work out you will be okay financially.

While it is true that in California assets that are acquired prior to marriage, or that are acquired through a gift or inheritance are separate property - they don’t always remain so. If the business you are operating continues to grow through the marriage, the appreciation in the value of that business becomes community property. As a community property state, the law provides that accumulations made through the efforts of a spouse while married are community property. As a result, that growth that your business has experienced becomes community property as well. It does not mean that the entire business becomes community property, but some portion of it is jointly owned by you and your new spouse which means that if things do not work out - your new spouse is going to have his or her share of that business coming to them. This can create significant problems when it comes time to divide up the marital estate. It may be that most of your assets are tied up in that business and it may then become difficult to buy your new spouse out of it.

A similar problem can arise with separate property money. If it is passively invested, then in theory there is no issue — you put no effort into causing it to increase in value after marriage, and provided that you never put it into a jointly-titled account, or transferred it to an account opened after marriage it will be safe. The problem is that in real life things don’t usually work this way. Inevitably, some effort may go into managing it or at some point money will be moved from one account to another. And in the course of a marriage that lasts many years, things may come up that require the use of funds for a joint purpose that came from a separate property source and now require extensive accounting to trace back to that source.There is one way to avoid these problems.

There is one way to avoid these problems.

Read more here.

February 28, 2017 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, February 27, 2017

The best medicine for ADHD might not be medicine, at least at first

From The Washington Post:

Steve and Michelle were desperate. Their 6-year-old son, Sam, was diagnosed with ADHD soon after entering first grade. Sam’s behavior seemed outright defiant: He ignored adults when his name was called and was in constant motion.  Sam let out bloodcurdling screams when forced to stop playing a game on the iPad. His teacher had struggled to manage similar behaviors in class, and his guidance counselor said Sam “needed to be on medicine.” Steve and Michelle weren’t so sure, but they wondered if they were being negligent by not putting him on Ritalin or something similar.

But despite the relentless advertising for meds, and the occasional coercion by school personnel, your young ADHD child may not need Ritalin. At least not yet.

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released results from its first national study to look at therapy, medication and dietary supplements to treat kids with ADHD ages 4-17. “Because behavioral therapy is the safest ADHD treatment for children under the age of 6, it should be used first, before ADHD medication for those children,” principal investigator Ileana Arias wrote.

Read more here.

February 27, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lawmaker proposes bill in Oklahoma requiring a father's consent for abortion

From The Washington Post:

A bill advancing in Oklahoma would require a woman to get the written consent of the fetus’s father before obtaining an abortion.

The bill, which passed out of a House committee Tuesday, would also require a woman “to provide, in writing, the identity of the father of the fetus to the physician who is to perform or induce the abortion,” according to the bill’s language. “If the person identified as the father of the fetus challenges the fact that he is the father, such individual may demand that a paternity test be performed.”

The bill’s author, Rep. Justin Humphrey (R), could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But in an interview with The Intercept earlier this month, Humphrey said that men should be able to have a say over the fate of a fetus, and suggested that a woman has greater responsibility in a relationship for preventing pregnancy because she would be the “host.”

Read more here.

February 26, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Rights Advocates Warn Russian Domestic Abuse Law Will Protect The Oppressor

From NPR:

The young mother spoke softly but with determination. After fleeing from her abusive boyfriend, she and her newborn baby found refuge last month in a women's shelter on the outskirts of Moscow.

According to Russian law at the time, he could have faced criminal prosecution for striking her. Now, under legislation signed Feb. 7 by Russian President Vladimir Putin, her partner would most likely face an administrative fine of up to $500.

The 30-year-old woman asked her name not be used because her boyfriend, whose abuse she reported to authorities, is still looking for her. But she was blunt in her opinion about Russia's new law decriminalizing domestic violence for first-time offenders.

"The law mentions one blow, but with one blow, you can kill someone," she said. "What kind of husbands, what kind of families, will we have with that law? What kind of relationships will we have in our society? Is that normal?"

Read more here.

February 25, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 24, 2017

It's Time to End Child Marriage in New York


Child advocates in New York are attempting to overturn a law that allows children as young as 14 years old to wed because they say it can trap minors in sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Democratic Assemblywoman Amy Paulin on Tuesday introduced a bill to raise the minimum age for marriage to 17. New York is one of three states that allow 14-year-olds to marry with parental and judicial consent.

Paulin called the law an appalling loophole for adults to sexually abuse children and avoid statutory rape charges.

"I can't even begin to imagine the physical, psychological and emotional traumas these children have suffered," she said. "We must safeguard the health, safety and welfare of our children, who are the future of our society."

Read more here.

February 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Indiana GOP Sends 'Abortion Reversal' Bill Back to Committee

From U.S. News:

An Indiana House panel will take another look at a measure it narrowly approved last week concerning a scientifically disputed process known as abortion reversal, a rare legislative step that Democrats say reflects widespread problems with the proposal.

Republican Rep. Ron Bacon's bill would require abortion providers to give women information about potentially stopping drug-induced abortions midway through the procedure. He contends providing it could give women a chance to save their baby if they change their minds, but critics say the so-called abortion reversal procedure hasn't been sufficiently vetted.

The measure had narrowly cleared the panel in a 7-6 vote, with two Republicans joining the Democratic lawmakers in voting against it. Measures that clear committees are typically amended further on the floor of the chamber, rather than in the panel where they were first heard.

Read more here.

February 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Teen Suicide Attempts Fell as Same-Sex Marriage Became Legal

From USA Today:

Fewer U.S. teens attempted suicide in states where same-sex marriage was legal in the years leading up to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling upholding gay marriage, according to a new study.

Analyzing data from 1999 to 2015, researchers found a 7% reduction in suicide attempts among high school students in the 32 states that legalized same-sex marriage. There was a 14% declined among students categorized as sexual minorities, specifically gays, lesbians and bisexuals, according to the study.

More than 29% of gay, lesbian and bisexual high school students nationwide reported attempting suicide within the past 12 months, according to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System data, whose long-term data researchers relied on for the study. That's compared with about 6% of heterosexual students.

Read more here.

February 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Student Papers

If/When/How, in collaboration with the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law School, is currently accepting submissions for the twelfth annual Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights. 
This year's suggested theme is "Balancing Burdens and Benefits after Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt." However, submissions on other topics will also be accepted. For more information, please download the Call for Submissions
The deadline for submission is Monday, February 27, 2017. 
Winning authors will receive cash prizes: $750 (first place), $500 (second place), or $250 (third place). Additionally, each winning author will receive a copy of the casebook Cases on Reproductive Rights and Justice, by Melissa Murray and Kristin Luker. The first place winner will also have a chance at publication with the NYU Review of Law and Social Change

February 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Woman had to leave Mississippi to divorce husband

From 10 News: 

In 2001, Elizabeth Freels knew her marriage of seven years was over, and she wanted a divorce.

But her husband, David, felt otherwise. He didn't want one. Elizabeth said he told her, "I will not give you a divorce until the day you die. If I can't have you, no one else will."

And in Mississippi, one of only two states without a true "no-fault divorce" law, if one spouse doesn't want a divorce, he or she can often stave one off for a long time. In the Freels' case, it was more than a decade, according to a story in the Clarion-Ledger.

There's an effort in the Legislature to make some small reforms to Mississippi divorce law. But such efforts have failed in the past, and a measure to create a "no-fault" divorce based on length of separation has already been watered down early in the legislative process this session.

Read more here.

February 21, 2017 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Washington's top court rules against Christian florist who wouldn't provide flowers for gay wedding:

From The ABA Journal:

A Christian florist did not have a First Amendment right to refuse to provide flowers for a gay wedding, the Washington Supreme Court has ruled.

The court on Thursday affirmed a fine and citation imposed against Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, for her violation of state laws barring discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. How Appealing linked to the decision (PDF); the New York Times and the Washington Post have stories.

Stutzman refused to provide the flowers because she had a religious belief that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Providing flowers, she maintained, is tantamount to endorsing marriage equality for same-sex couples. She also alleged that the sale of floral arrangements is expressive conduct that amounts to speech. She claimed violations of her federal and state constitutional rights to free speech.

The state supreme court found no constitutional violation. Stutzman’s floral arrangements are not expressive conduct eligible for constitutional protections, the court said. Nor does the law infringe her right to free exercise of religion, the court concluded.

Read more here.

February 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

D.C. mayor does not sign — or veto — family-leave law, leaving critics on both sides

From The Washington Post:

In the first real test of her power in the face of a new left-leaning D.C. Council, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser dodged a showdown over the city’s paid-family-leave bill.

Bowser was opposed to the legislation, among the most generous paid-leave policies in the country, for several reasons. She was concerned about the $250 million annual tax it would impose on employers. She worried that it would benefit city workers who lived in Maryland and Virginia more than her own constituents. And she felt it was imprudent to expand government when the city may face cutbacks under the Trump administration.

The business community, even more opposed to the law, was counting on Bowser to block it.

But Bowser didn’t veto it. And she didn’t sign it, either. She let the bill become law without her signature and then sent a letter to the D.C. Council, maintaining that she had “grave concerns” about it.

The move left business leaders, who had spent weeks lobbying council members to back up a mayoral veto, scratching their heads, and the liberal lawmakers who passed the measure newly emboldened.

Bowser’s inaction drew criticism from both sides.

“She’s out there by herself — completely alone right now — and that’s not a good place to be,” said Jim Dinegar, head of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Dinegar, along with the heads of every major business group and associations representing D.C. restaurants, colleges and hospitals, had urged Bowser to veto the “deeply flawed and unnecessarily expensive” bill.

Aides to the mayor said she ran out of time to build consensus around an alternative plan that could get enough votes to sustain a veto.

“To put a veto on it, the mayor knows that doesn’t mean anything unless you have the votes to sustain it,” said a high-ranking aide to the mayor who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Bowser’s decision.

But by not using her veto power, Dineger said the mayor lost the force of argument that she was doing everything she could in the city’s best interests. Dineger was also critical of the business community, saying it should have done more to help Bowser find the votes needed to sustain a veto, since without it “she can’t claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility.”

Bowser (D) also couldn’t win praise from progressives in her own party who have been pushing for family-leave benefits nationwide.


Read more here.

February 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

New York Family Law Firm Eiges & Orgel, PLLC Moves to New Office on Broadway

From Yahoo! News:

Eiges & Orgel, PLLC has moved its main office location to a new building in Manhattan. The firm will continue to provide the award-winning representation in divorce and family law matters it has become known for from the following office location:

The Woolworth Building
233 Broadway
Suite 2205
New York, NY 10007-3757

The Woolworth Building is a well-known National Historic Landmark and New York City Landmark centrally located on Broadway in Manhattan, New York City. The new office location offers more convenience to local residents of Manhattan and surrounding areas who wish to meet personally with the firm's attorneys, Ken Eiges and Scott I. Orgel, during initial consultations and regular meetings to discuss the progress of their cases. Additionally, the firm is positioned closely to the New York City Family Court in Lower Manhattan, allowing the attorneys to easily attend court appearances beside and on behalf of clients.

The firm is pleased to offer a conveniently located office that has the room and resources needed to tackle even the most complex family law cases, including contested divorce matters, child support and custody issues, alimony, high net worth, and more. As a testament to the firm's commitment to client satisfaction and convenience, Eiges & Orgel, PLLC also serves local residents throughout New York from office locations in Brooklyn and Queens. The firm is open on Saturdays and is available to provide consultations to new clients via telephone.


Read more here.

February 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Oklahoma lawyer and the woman he represented in a divorce are shot and killed

From The ABA Journal:

A lawyer in Norman, Oklahoma, and his divorce client were shot and killed, apparently by the woman’s estranged husband, authorities said on Wednesday.

The victims are lawyer Bryan Young, 47, and his client, Cayann Patterson, 49, report the Norman Transcript and the Oklahoman. Young was an associate at Ward Glass in Norman and was previously a high school principal, according to other stories by the Norman Transcript and the Oklahoman.

The suspect was Patterson’s estranged husband, Timothy Michael Deffner. Police say he shot Young and Patterson multiple times after going to their homes and kicking in the doors. Deffner shot himself early Wednesday after he was surrounded by authorities in a field.

Young’s wife, Lisa, said she went downstairs to investigate after hearing several loud bangs. She went outside and saw the suspect, who told her she should get back in the house, according to Pottawatomie County Undersheriff J.T. Palmer, the Oklahoman reported.

Patterson had previously received a protective order against Deffner.

Read more here.

February 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Employee alleges hospital violated family leave law

From The Pennsylvania Record:

An employee is suing a York hospital, alleging violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act and wrongful termination.

Christine M. Buckley filed a lawsuit Jan. 25 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against York Hospital, doing business as Wellspan York Hospital, alleging the hospital called the plaintiff at home in an attempt to harass her.

According to the complaint, Buckley, a registered nurse, suffered monetary damages from being terminated from her employment for exercising her rights to FMLA. The plaintiff alleges Wellspan York interfered with her FMLA leave by terminating her employment in February 2016, despite having sufficient medical records to support her claim of having medical conditions.

Buckley seeks trial by jury, damages, back wages and benefits, compensatory damages, unpaid wages, benefits and wage supplements, statutory interest, court costs, liquidated damages, and all further relief the court grants. She is represented by attorney Jeremy Donham of Donham Law in Dellslow, West Virginia.

Read more here.

February 16, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)