Family Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Orlando Shooter has History of Domestic Violence

From Rolling Stone:

In Orlando, dozens of people lost their lives as gunman, Omar Mateen, entered a gay nightclub and opened fire on the crowd. Mateen was reported to have had anger management issues at work, especially when co-workers discussed “trigger topics—particularly, religion, women, and race.

Additionally, Mateen’s ex-wife stated that he had held her hostage and beat her throughout their marriage. Domestic violence and anger issues, however, were not seen as a red flag.

Read more here.

June 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pennsylvania Bill Proposed in Response to Sexual Abuse Allegations

From the Triblive:

In Harrisburg, legislation has been proposed that would expand the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse. The law would increase the limit on the age of filing from thirty years of age to fifty. The bill would also prevent organizations from claiming immunity if the organization acts with gross negligence.

The bill was proposed in response to allegations of the Catholic Church’s involvement in approximately one hundred sexual abuse incidents.

Read more here.

June 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Pope Waives Fee for Annulment--Providence Diocese Follows Suit

From the Rhode Island Catholic:

After Pope Francis expressed his wish to eliminate all fees charged for marriage annulment, the Diocese of Providence followed suit. The elimination of fees is in effort to streamline the annulment process as well as making the process less arduous for Catholics who wished to remain “in good standing.”

Being able to annul without fees will allow more couples to divorce and remarry without sacrificing their standing in the Church.

Read more here.

June 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Same-Sex Couples Still Face Roadblocks to Adoption

From NBC News:

There are currently thousands of children and youth in foster care, many of which are up for adoption; however, same-sex couples still face more hurdles to being approved as adoptive parents. Many agencies still discriminate against adoption by same-sex couples despite the nation-wide ability of same-sex couples to adopt children.

Alphonso Reyes and his husband, Melvin, detail the roadblocks to adoption that they have faced in order to become parents.

Read more here.

June 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

California foster parents continue fight for Indian girl

Foster Parents Continued Fight for Custody of Indian Daughter

From Fox News:

The scene was wrenching: A sobbing 6-year-old girl, clutching a stuffed bear as her foster father carries her away from the only home she has known for most of her life.

But Lexi's story didn't end in March when she was removed from a Santa Clarita home near Los Angeles. Her story isn't one of simple emotions but rather complex issues of ethnicity, government, and history.

Lexi, who is 1/64th Choctaw, was placed with distant relatives in Utah under a decades-old federal law designed to keep Native American families together, and under California's Juvenile Dependency Law.

Her foster parents, Rusty and Summer Page, have fought a yearslong battle to keep her.

Read more here.

June 12, 2016 in Adoption, Custody (parenting plans), Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Domestic abuse: Violence amid a life of luxury

Dodging Domestic Abuse in the Suburbs:

From BBC News:

When Lisa McAdams began her decade-long relationship with the man who abused her, she had a successful career and enough savings for a home deposit. She walked away a single parent, carrying debts that took a decade to reconcile.

"I was lucky he hit me", Ms McAdams confesses bluntly.

There's a bitter irony behind this statement. The physical assaults provided clear evidence of the abuse she was suffering. The mental and economic attacks were savage, but covert and subtle.

"The poverty pushes you into leaving, and then it is singularly the hardest bit to climb out of," she says.

Surviving on welfare was a far cry from the seemingly charmed life she had led, waving to celebrity neighbours as she spun the wheel of a luxury car through the gates of a lavish compound.

But amid the trappings of security, she was anything but safe.

Read more here.

June 11, 2016 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Self-represented litigants perceive bias and disadvantage in court process, report finds

Report Finds Pro Se Litigants Feel Bias and Disadvantages in Family Court

From the ABA Journal:

Self-represented litigants in family court have the onus of figuring out how to use the a system that wasn’t designed for their use, making them feel as if they are at a disadvantage or experiencing bias, a new study has found.

The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System interviewed pro se litigants in family court in four counties in Oregon, Colorado, Tennessee and Massachusetts to learn more about their experiences, according to a press release. The group interviewed 128 self-represented litigants and 49 court professionals.


Read more here.

June 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

After Obergefell: How the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has affected other areas of law

Effect of Obergefell on Other Areas of Law

From the ABA Journal:

The word patchwork may be the best way to describe the layers of laws that governed the relationships of same-sex couples before June 26, 2015, the day the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to marriage for gay couples in Obergerefell v. Hodges.

Robert Stanley, a partner at the family law firm of Jaffe and Clemens in Beverly Hills, California, has personally navigated that patchwork. When he moved to California about 10 years ago from Georgia, he went from a state with no legal status for same-sex couples to one with domestic partnership status. Shortly after the California Supreme Court’s ruling that recognized same-sex marriage went into effect—in mid-June 2008—Stanley and his partner got married.

Then the state’s voters approved Proposition 8, the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. That left Stanley’s marriage legal but prevented additional same-sex couples from marrying. Challenges to Prop 8 sprouted, and same-sex marriages again became permissible under state law in 2013.

California was hardly the only state flopping around like a beached fish when it came to the legal status of same-sex couples. Obergefell brought a conclusive end to that thrashing, and in the first four months after the decision, 96,000 same-sex couples married, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. Those unions added an estimated $813 million to state and local economies and $52 million in state and local sales tax revenue.

Read more here.

June 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Contentious battles between couples over frozen embryos raise legal and ethical dilemmas

Battle Over the Embryo Raises Legal and Ethical Dilemmas for Attempted Divorcees

From The ABA Journal:

When Risa Levine, a real estate attorney in New York City, got married, she wanted nothing more than to have a baby. Her husband at the time also wanted a child, but they weren't able to do so on their own. So they went to a fertility clinic together.

They discovered their best hope for creating a baby was through in vitro fertilization. IVF is a series of procedures involving extracting eggs from a woman’s body, combining them with sperm in a laboratory and then placing them inside her uterus. Fertility doctors can also cryopreserve any excess embryos so they can be thawed and used later.

Levine and her husband, who worked in real estate finance, had four frozen embryos. The couple went through more than 10 IVF cycles, but they split up before they were able to have a baby. At the time of their separation, Levine was in her mid-40s.

During the divorce process, Levine and her ex battled over custody of the embryos because, while she still wanted to be a parent, he no longer did. He wanted the embryos destroyed, and she wanted to keep them frozen so she could, possibly, have a baby in the future.

Read more here.

June 8, 2016 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Triplets at Center Of Surrogate Baby Custody Battle Now Living with Biological Dad and 'Doing Fine,' Says Attorney

Surrogate Battles for Custody of Triplet 


The triplets at the center of a custody battle – between the surrogate mom who gave birth to them and their biological father – have left the Los Angeles hospital where they've been kept since their birth in February and are now living at their father's home in Georgia.

"They're doing fine," Robert Walmsley, the father's attorney, tells PEOPLE. "My client is finally getting to raise his kids and he's loving it. He's a happy guy right now."

In March, a Los Angeles judge granted surrogate mom Melissa Cook a temporary stay that prohibited the biological father, identified only as C.M. in court papers, from removing the children from California.

Read more here.

June 7, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Illinois Legislature Aims to Streamline Divorce Proceedings

From the Belleville News Democrat:

A new Illinois divorce law aims to make the act of divorcing quicker and less litigious—especially where children are involved. Some of the new changes also involve changes in terminology, which are reflective of changes in society—namely gay marriage. Additionally, the term “custody” has been renamed “allocation of parenting time.”

In determining allocations of parenting time, a judge can consider levels of parental involvement prior to a petition for dissolution of marriage and whether there have been attempts by either parent to cause estrangement of the child to the other parent. Other changes to the law include the consent requirement regarding relocation.

When the law takes effect, Illinois persons seeking a divorce will only have one option for dissolution—irreconcilable differences. Having one option will streamline the process and prevent one spouse from utilizing “fault based” divorce technicalities to draw out divorce proceedings.

Read more here.

June 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Indiana University Seeks Preliminary Injunction from New Abortion Restriction Law in Indiana

From the Indy Star:

Indiana University (IU) has filed a lawsuit challenging Indiana’s new abortion restriction law. Under HEA 1337, “a person who acquires, receives, sells or transfers fetal tissue would face a Level 5 felony, punishable by up to six years in prison.”

IU utilizes aborted or miscarriage fetal tissue to conduct research regarding autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and a host of other neurological diseases and defects. IU states that the law would curtail scientists’ academic freedom and all but shut down research efforts. IU further states that, under the law, research efforts would be criminalized.

Furthermore, HEA 1337, which will take effect on July 1, 2016, will also ban abortions sought solely because a fetus might be born with a disability.

IU seeks a preliminary injunction that would prevent Indiana from enforcing the law.

Read more here.

June 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

SCOTUS Upholds Adoption by Lesbian in Alabama

From the LA Times:

The Alabama Supreme Court refused to recognize a lesbian woman’s adoption that had occurred in Georgia. The court stated that “Georgia adoption law didn’t allow a ‘non-spouse to adopt a child without first terminating the parental rights of the current parents.’” The woman appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The Court said that the Alabama Supreme Court erred in refusing to grant Georgia’s adoption through the full faith and credit clause.

Read more here.

June 4, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 3, 2016

States Aim to Sue over Obama's Transgender Directive

From the LA Times:

Eleven states are suing the Obama Administration over its directive that schools allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms for the gender in which that student identifies. Many states that are suing claim that their resistance to the Directive is in furtherance of the safety of their students. Proponents of the Directive claim that opponents are acting out of hatred. However, politicians in opposition to the Directive are prepared to argue their position all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Read more here.

June 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Male Birth Control Injection Trials are Going Well

From Science Alert:

Trials for a promising form of male birth control will begin on humans later this year with a speculative sale date of 2018. Vasalgel is a fully reversible male birth control, which has had a high rate of success among rabbits. The method also expects fewer potential side effects; such as, hormone disruption.

One large draw to this method of birth control is that the injection into the vas deferens can work for up to one year.

In scientific research, eleven of twelve rabbits were unable to create sperm immediately after injected. The lone rabbit that was still able to create sperm, was unable to create sperm soon after injected. The birth control seems to be easily reversed in trials so far.

Read more here.

June 2, 2016 in Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Colorado Domestic Violence Survivors and Teen Parents Have Less Hurdles for Childcare Assistance

From the Denver Post:

Under Colorado House Bill 1227, teenagers and victims of domestic violence will have one less barrier to applying for assistance for day care. The current law requires anyone requesting for assistance to pay for childcare to apply for child support within 30 days of the application. The new law exempts teenagers and victims of domestic violence from child support enforcement requirements.

Read more here.

June 1, 2016 in Child Support (establishing), Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Rooming with the Parents

From the New York Times:

The empty nests are filling up: For the first time in modern history, young adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to live with a parent than with a romantic partner, according to a new census analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Millennials, who have been slower than previous generations to marry and set up their own households, reached that milestone in 2014, when 32.1 percent lived in a parent’s home, compared with 31.6 percent who lived with a spouse or a partner, the report found.

“The really seismic change is that we have so many fewer young adults partnering, either marrying or cohabiting,” said Richard Fry, the Pew economist who wrote the report. “In 1960, that silent generation left home earlier than any generation before or after, because they married so young.”

But in recent decades, fewer people have been marrying, and those who do are marrying at older ages. In 1960, the median age for a first marriage was 20 for women and 22 for men, and just one in 10 people over 25 had never married. Now, the median ages are 27 and 29, and one in five adults older than 25 has never married. In a 2014 study, Pew projected that a quarter of this generation of young adults might never marry.

Read more here.

May 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy Memorial Day

usa flag

May 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

4 Things Newly Single Women Should Do With Their Finances

Saving for a New You

From US News & World Report:

Over the years, I've worked with many women who find themselves newly single as a result of divorce or widowhood. Those life events can be incredibly demanding emotionally, even without the financial component adding to the shock. Women come to me with questions such as:

  • How much money do I have left?
  • What financial institutions did my spouse have accounts with?
  • How much insurance did my husband have?
  • Can I buy a car?
  • Do I need to move to a new home?
  • At what age will I be able to retire?
  • How much money can I give to my children?
  • How much money can I give to my favorite charity?
  • Will I be OK?

Read more here.

May 29, 2016 in Resources - Divorce | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

SCOVA Watch: Three Takeaways From the Court’s Recent Ruling on Same-Sex Cohabitation

3 Takeaways on Virginia's Luttrell v. Cucco

From JD Supra Business Advisor:

Last December, I previewed the case of Luttrell v. Cucco, which had, at that time, just been taken up by the Supreme Court of Virginia. The Court recently issued its ruling in the case and you can read the opinion here.

There are a few notable lessons from the Court’s ruling that are useful reminders for other cases.

1.) The Court does not like sweeping rulings. In some of the press coverage following the Court’s opinion, several outlets initially characterized the ruling broadly as one that took the logical next step following Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. Even the ACLU, trumpeting their victory, framed the ruling in those terms. The Court’s holding, however, is a narrow one based on the plain language of the statute at issue, Code § 20-109(A), and the opinion never discusses, or even mentions, Obergefell.

Code § 20-109(A) allows a spouse paying support to petition a court to terminate such support if “the spouse receiving support has been habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to marriage.” In two sentences at the heart of the opinion, the Court states that Code § 20-109(A), is “gender neutral” and can thus “apply to either same-sex or opposite-sex relationships.” The Court then bolstered this finding by distinguishing prior decisions and examining the legislative history of the enactment. In case there was any doubt, the Court then expressly stated that the definition of marriage in Virginia was irrelevant to its ruling because the controlling words in Code § 20-109(A) were “a relationship analogous to marriage.”

Read more here.

May 28, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)