Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Separation Worse Than Divorce

From Huffington Post:

Divorce may seem daunting, but that's not the worst part of the dissolution of a marriage: being separated is, according to a new Gallup poll.

After surveying 131,159 adults across the U.S. for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the researchers found that those who are separated experienced significantly more daily stress than those who were married or divorced. Fifty-one percent of separated Americans reported feeling stressed the day prior to taking the survey, while only 38.6 percent of married Americans and 44.1 percent of divorced Americans claimed to feel the same way.

Read more here.


November 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Big Divorce Case Will Influence Law?

From Bloomberg:

Chris Hohn, one of the most successful U.K. hedge-fund managers, may recast the country’s divorce law if he wins more than half the family assets in his split from his wife.

A judge may rule as soon as this week in Hohn and Jamie Cooper-Hohn’s dispute over their $1.3 billion estate and roles in the $4.3 billion charitable foundation they created with their fortune. The case, which may lead to the country’s largest divorce settlement, could change the law for the super rich if the judge accepts Hohn’s argument that his financial talents constituted a special contribution to the marriage.

Read more here.


November 18, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Huntington: "Failure to Flourish: How Law Undermines Family Relationships"

Here is the Balkinization symposium on Professor Clare Huntington's book Failure to Flourish, and the collected posts (with contributions from Professors Elizabeth Scott, Solangel Maldonado, Robert Emery, Robin Lenhardt, and Linda McClain).


November 17, 2014 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

World Adoption Day

From Forbes:

The first ever "World Adoption Day" is set for November 9th, 2014. The brainchild of entrepreneurial pastor, Hank Fortener, the campaign also includes Scott Harrison of Charity:Water, and Supermodel Jessica Stam as it’s co-founders.

Although it is being launched in many cities across the globe, the idea originated in a place that is not exactly known for its genuine relationships, Hollywood, California.

Read more here.


November 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Happy Dance

See here a man's happy dance after he made his last alimony payment.


November 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rejecting Alimony

From Forbes:

In reporting this story I came across a number of people who chose not to take spousal they were entitled to. Here are their stories:

“Asking for alimony would be like asking for a pension for a job I no longer did. It just didn’t seem fair.”

Suzan French married at 18, soon after had a daughter and found herself unhappily married. “My husband was a nice guy but worked 12 to 16 hours per day (as a manager at a manufacturing company) — I rarely saw him,” says French. When French was 24, she filed for divorce, but not spousal support. Her attorney told her she “definitely would have gotten alimony” — about $2,000 per month, she estimates. French had no college education, zero professional work experience, and only a brief resume from when she was a teenager. 

“My marriage allowed me to stay home full-time with my daughter,” says French. “That was a luxury — not a job. I was compensated. I had a nice home, drove a nice car, had access to a bank account. Asking for alimony would be like asking for a pension for a job I no longer did.  Why should he have to pay because he loved me enough to marry me? It just didn’t seem fair.”

French landed a job as a leasing agent at a nearby apartment complex, where she and her daughter moved. It took her 10 years of attending community college part-time, but eventually she graduated from Ivy League University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Today, 20 years later, French owns a public relations and marketing company, owns her  home and is putting two daughters through college.”

Read more here.


November 13, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


From the New York Times:

Haley Wesley, Lyn Balfour and Mikey Terry each had a different experience with the criminal justice system.

Ms. Wesley was charged with involuntary manslaughter in Napa County, Calif., and pleaded guilty to child endangerment. Ms. Balfour was acquitted by a jury in Greene County, Va., after spending much of her savings fighting her case. And Mr. Terry avoided prosecution altogether in Ellis County, Texas, after a grand jury declined to indict him.

But all three had one tragic thing in common: They were among the small but widening circle of people who have accidentally killed their children by absent-mindedly leaving them in a sweltering car.

Read more here.


November 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 10, 2014


From the Guardian:

The number of children being bullied on the internet has doubled in the past year, with more than one in three victims, research suggests.

In a poll of 11- to 17-year-olds, 35% reported that they have experienced cyberbullying – compared with 16% last year. Four in 10 said they had witnessed others being picked on online – almost double the 22% recorded last year.

Read more here.


November 10, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Circuit Split on Same-Sex Marriage

From SCOTUS blog (a private blog on U.S. Supreme Court issues):

Breaking ranks with a wide array of other federal courts, and coming close to setting up almost certain review by the Supreme Court, a divided federal appeals court in Cincinnati on Thursday upheld bans on same-sex marriage in four states. Dividing two-to-one, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned lower court rulings in cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

Probably the only way that this ruling would not predictably lead to Supreme Court review, it appears, is if there is a request for en banc review in the Sixth Circuit, and that request is granted.

The decision was based largely on the two-judge majority’s view that the question of whether to move the nation toward same-sex marriage in every state is for the people or the states, and not for judges applying the national Constitution.

Read more here.


November 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Provencher, Gupta-Kagan, & Eschelbach Hansen: "The Standard of Proof at Adjudication of Abuse or Neglect: Its Influence on Case Outcomes at Key Junctures"

Ashley Provencher (Siena College),  Josh Gupta-Kagan (University of South Carolina School of Law), &  Mary Eschelbach Hansen (American University - Department of Economics) have posted The Standard of Proof at Adjudication of Abuse or Neglect: Its Influence on Case Outcomes at Key Junctures, Social Work & Social Sciences Review 17(2) (forthcoming 2014) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

We measure the extent to which the standard of proof a state child protection agency must meet at trial in a child abuse or neglect case influences the outcomes in the case. In the United States, the government of each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia sets its own standard of proof. We measure the influence of the standards of proof using survey data. We find that a higher standard of proof — one requiring the government to present clear and convincing evidence of abuse or neglect rather than only requiring a preponderance of the evidence of abuse or neglect — decreases the probability that the judge rules in favor of CPS. A clear and convincing standard also affects decisions before trial: it increases the number of visits made by CPS during an investigation; it lowers the odds that CPS substantiates the case; and it lowers the odds that a case reaches trial. After trial, it increases the probability of an out-of-home placement.



November 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Gupta-Kagan: "In Re Sanders and the Resurrection of Stanley v. Illinois, California Law Review Circuit"

Josh Gupta-Kagan has posted In Re Sanders and the Resurrection of Stanley v. Illinois, California Law Review Circuit (2014 Forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In 1972, the Supreme Court in Stanley v. Illinois declared that parents are entitled to a hearing on their fitness before the state places their children in foster care. Somewhat oddly, Stanley went on to be cited as a leading case regarding the rights of unwed fathers to object to private adoptions favored by mothers -- an issue not present in Stanley. Odder still, most states routinely violated Stanley in child welfare cases -- the context in which the Stanley rule arose. Most states apply the "one parent doctrine," which holds that finding one parent unfit justifies taking the child into foster care over the other parent's objections -- even when that parent (usually the father) has seized his opportunity interest in the child and is thus entitled to the due process protections ordered in Stanley. Cases around the country adopting this doctrine ignored Stanley -- many did not cite it at all and others noted it but offered no substantive discussion.

This article argues that this trend may be changing. The Michigan Supreme Court held earlier this year that the one parent doctrine is unconstitutional, explaining at length, and with heavy reliance on Stanley, that the state must prove its case against parents before taking their children. This decision -- In re Sanders -- hopefully portends a welcome resurrection of Stanley v. Illinois in the foster care context. Such a resurrection would impose a core due process protection in an important body of cases. It would reinforce the policy -- also articulated in Stanley -- that due process protections are essential to determine whether a child's interest in protection of maltreatment or remaining with her family trump. And it would attack the gender stereotypes and other unhelpful heuristics that too often lead to poor decisions in child welfare cases.


November 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gupta-Kagan: "Non-Exclusive Adoption and Child Welfare"

Josh Gupta-Kagan has posted Non-Exclusive Adoption and Child Welfare,  Alabama Law Review (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This Article proposes that child welfare law permit the non-exclusive adoption of foster children who cannot reunify with their parents — that is, adoption by foster parents without severing children’s legal relationships with their biological parents. Present law imposes a choice: extended family members or other foster parents may adopt foster children exclusively — and terminate the legal relationship between the child and biological parents — or they may become guardians — which preserves parent-child relationships but denies foster parents the legal title of “parent,” even when they are long-term primary caretakers.

Non-exclusive adoption would respect the lived reality of many foster children by legally recognizing all parents in their lives. Biological parents, even those who cannot reunify with their children, retain an important role for many foster children. Foster parents serve as functional parents and often see themselves, and are seen by children, as parents. Moreover, creating an additional legal path for foster children to leave foster care to new permanent families may help many children and families find legal options that minimize unnecessary litigation.

Some courts and legislators have recognized multiple parenthood, especially for children conceived through assisted reproductive technology (ART) and raised by same-sex partners. Yet multiple parenthood faces a core challenge — multiplying the number of legally recognized parents can multiply legal conflicts over children. Non-exclusive adoption in child welfare has a compelling answer. Child welfare law’s experience with guardianship demonstrates that the law can effectively allocate parental authority to avoid such conflicts by granting the adoptive parent legal and primary physical custody. This experience also shows one field where multiple parenthood is less radical than it appears at first. While this result raises equality concerns in ART cases, it is appropriate in child welfare cases which, by definition, involve biological parents who have been found unfit and unable to reunify with their children.


October 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Seymore: "Openness in International Adoption, Columbia Human Rights Law Review"

Malinda L. Seymore has posted Openness in International Adoption,  Columbia Human Rights Law Review (forthcoming), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The growth in international adoption has been spurred, at least in part, by the desire of adoptive parents to return to closed, confidential adoption where the identity of the birth mother is secret and there is no ongoing contact with her. After a long history of secrecy in domestic adoption in the United States, there is a robust trend toward openness. That is not the case with international adoption, which are typically closed transactions. There is, however, a growing interest in increased openness in international adoption. International adoptive families who were once happy to avoid birth parent involvement are now seeking them out, because of health concerns or because their child is interested in learning about their birth parents. Some adoptive families are concerned about issues of corruption, coercion, and trafficking in the birth country and want contact with birth parents to assuage those concerns. International adoptive families are learning about positive outcomes of domestic open adoptions, and hope to replicate those results in the international context. International adoptees are reaching adulthood and are increasingly interested in searching for birth families, despite the many practical difficulties in doing so. International human rights, and in particular the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, guarantee rights of identity and information that requires increased openness in international adoption. In addition, best interests of the child standards in international law points to a need for the same kinds of open adoption arrangements that have been studied in the West and have been determined to benefit children. Further, openness in international adoption is a practical solution to fraud, corruption and trafficking in international adoption by using the “sunlight as disinfectant” method. Countries involved in international adoption need to do more to take adoptees’ identity rights seriously.

Read more here.


October 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Social Neuroscience

From cafe. com:

In Part 1 of this interview, married neuroscientists John and Stephanie Cacioppo discussed her research on love. Here, John explains his research and some paradoxical behaviors of the lonely.

MG: You are one of the founders of social neuroscience. Can you explain what that is?

JC:  The premise of social neuroscience is complementary to cognitive neuroscience – but distinct. In cognitive neuroscience you look at the brain as if it were a computer. The metaphor stimulates a number of questions. For instance, language is viewed as a way of representing information in the brain. So you ask: What is that representational system? Where is the encoding and decoding? What types of storage and memory systems exist? In social neuroscience, the appropriate metaphor is the cell phone. Brains are viewed as mobile, broadband-connected computing devices. This metaphor raises different questions, such as: Where’s the wifi card? What’s the communication protocol? Language is seen as one of the ways these devices are linked, rather than a way to represent information within the device. Neither cognitive nor social neuroscience is "correct." They are distinct and complementary perspectives on the human brain. 

Read more here.


October 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gupta-Kagan: "The New Permanency"

Josh Gupta-Kagan has posted The New Permanency, U.C. Davis J. of Juv. L. & Pol'y (2015 Forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Permanency is a pillar of child welfare law; children generally do better with legally permanent caretakers than in temporary foster care. Historically, when foster children cannot reunify with their parents, states have sought to terminate parental rights and find adoptive families. But recent legal reforms have created a continuum of permanency options, many of which permit ongoing legal relationships with biological parents and do not require termination of biological parents’ rights. Research has demonstrated that such options are as lasting as adoption, and can help more children leave foster care to legally permanent caretakers. This continuum promises to empower families — especially children and their new permanent caregivers — to determine the best legal status for their particular situation. It also challenges a reliance on terminations of parental rights as the default tool to achieve permanency. This is the new permanency.

A milestone in the development of this new permanency was the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (“Fostering Connections”), which provided federal funds for kinship guardianship subsidies. Yet six years after Fostering Connections, the number of guardianships nationally has not increased, just as many children grow up in foster care, and in many states families have no greater ability to choose the best option for them.

This Article is the first to explore the reasons for Fostering Connections’ failure to spark major changes. The fault lies in Fostering Connections’ failure to challenge the deep cultural and legal subordination of guardianship to adoption or the discretion child welfare agencies have to make core decisions in a case without significant court oversight. This Article also explores a jurisdiction in which the new permanency is close to reality. The District of Columbia has seen the number of guardianships surpass the number of adoptions, with more children reaching permanency, and fewer unnecessary terminations. The District thus represents an extreme version of what the new permanency could do nationally — although it also illustrates the problems with overly wide agency discretion regarding kinship placements.

This Article proposes a set of reforms that would help fully implement the new permanency nationwide. These reforms would rid the law of a hierarchy among permanency options, establish a stronger and more consistent preference for kinship placements, and empower families, not the state, to select the permanency option that best fits their situation, through more rigorous procedures and better provision of quality counsel than current law provides.


October 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Minimizing Chances of Divorce

From the Atlantic:

A diamond is forever, but an expensive engagement ring means the marriage might not last that long. According to a new study, spending between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring is significantly associated with an increase in the risk of divorce.

The data scientist Randal Olson recently visualized some of the findings from a paper by Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, two researchers at Emory University who studied 3,000 married couples in the U.S. to determine the factors that predicted divorce. They analyzed income, religious attendance, how important attractiveness was to each partner, wedding attendance, and other metrics to determine the aspects associated with eventual marital dissolution.

Their findings offer some take-aways for couples who want to minimize their chances of divorce: You should date for three years before popping the question. Be wealthy, but don't be a gold-digger. Have a huge wedding, but make sure it's cheap. And whatever you do, don't skip the honeymoon.

Here are the highlights, displayed with Olson's visualizations and used here with his permission:

Time Spent Dating Before Proposal

See more charts here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

October 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 27, 2014

News from Texas

From the LA Times:

The daughter of Houston Mayor Annise Parker was briefly denied the chance to take a driving test this week because her birth certificate and other documentation indicated she has two mothers, the mayor said.

Parker, who married her longtime partner, Kathy Hubbard, in California this year and remains a rarity as an openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city, complained on her Twitter account on Friday.

"Daughter needs drivers test," the mayor wrote. "Has all docs, some in MomA name, some MomK, but w/ birth cert showing both. DPS says can only be from 1 mom!"

The Texas Department of Public Safety, which oversees the issuance of driver's licenses in the state, said the initial decision to reject Parker's daughter's application had nothing to do with her parents' marital status. 

Department spokesman Tom Vinger said Parker's daughter failed to prove she was a Texas resident, but that the issue was later resolved.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

October 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Seymore: "Sixteen and Pregnant: Minors' Consent in Abortion and Adoption"

Malinda L. Seymore has posted Sixteen and Pregnant: Minors' Consent in Abortion and Adoption,  Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2013, on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

A minor girl’s decision about how to handle an unplanned pregnancy is a highly contested issue. Especially contentious is the minor’s ability to consent to an abortion independently of an adult such as her parents or a judge. That issue has received substantial attention from policy makers, scholars, judges, and legislators. Almost no attention has been paid, however, to the decision of a pregnant minor to continue her pregnancy, relinquish her constitutionally protected parental rights, and place a child for adoption. In 37 states, a minor’s abortion decision is regulated differently than an adult’s, while in only 15 states is a minor’s decision to relinquish parental rights and consent to adoption treated any differently from an adult’s decision. New neuroscientific advances in the understanding of minors’ decisionmaking seem to justify protective regulation of the adoption placement decisions of minor mothers, as does the law’s traditional treatment of minors’ decisionmaking in areas other than abortion. The justifications often advanced for the need for parental involvement in a minor’s abortion decision — the physical/medical risks, the psychological/emotional effects, and the importance of the decision — apply with equal force to the decision about adoption placement. The decision about adoption placement also differs from the abortion decision in at least one crucial respect — the legal complexity of the adoption decision adds another layer to the medical and moral decisions present in abortion. All states should require that minor mothers have independent legal counsel when making the decision about relinquishment of parental rights and consent to adoption placement.


October 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Link Between $ Spent on Wedding and Divorce

From the Independent:

A new study in the US has found that the more people spend on their weddings and engagement rings, the more likely they are to divorce.

Economic professors at Emory University carried out a study on over 3,000 US men and women who had been married to a member of the opposite sex.

Professors Andrew M Francis and Hugo M Mialon found that men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 (£1,244 and £2,488) on engagement rings were 1.3 times more likely to get divorced than men who spent between $500 (£311) and $2,000 on a ring.

Read more here, and read the underlying paper here.


October 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)