Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Divorce Makes Baby Boomers Work Longer, Especially Women

From Bloomberg:

Divorce in the U.S. surged in the 1970s and 1980s as the baby boomers reached adulthood. As they enter retirement, they’re still splitting up, and it’s having a disproportionate effect on women.

Even as divorce rates for younger Americans have fallen, failed marriages among people over 50 doubled from 1990 to 2010, according to Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family & Marriage Research. As a result, the overall risk for getting divorced in the U.S. has remained constant: About half of all marriages will collapse.

It turns out that this may be part of the reason why about one in five Americans over 65 is working—twice as many in the early 1980s and the most since the creation of Medicare. Unlike divorces earlier in life, later breakups have a huge impact on individual finances, often forcing people to delay retirement.

New research suggests this increased monetary stress also plays an outsize role in pushing older women back into the workforce.

According to a study by economists Claudia Olivetti of Boston College and Dana Rotz of Mathematica Policy Research, the later a woman divorces, the more likely she is to be working full time late in life. Using survey data on almost 56,000 women, they found that—compared with women who divorced before age 30—women who divorced in their 50s were about 10 percentage points more likely to be working full time from ages 50 to 74.

Read more here.

October 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 21, 2016

HBO's "Divorce"

From Professor Jeannie Suk Gersen (Harvard Law School), writing for the New Yorker:

Marking the start of a period in which divorce may well get more attention is the new HBO series “Divorce,” which began airing this month. Sarah Jessica Parker, the show’s star and executive producer, has explained that her desire to tell the story of an ordinary suburban couple’s divorce was motivated by fascination with the inside of a marriage. The show, written by Sharon Horgan, of “Catastrophe,” understands that how people divorce can reveal more about a marriage than anything one could see before its unravelling.

Nora Ephron once said, “Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from.” I teach family law to students in their twenties, most of whom intend to marry and have children, and the life lesson of the course is much the same as that aphorism. Students must contemplate the legal rules of divorce—about custody, asset division, and financial support—as they consider whom to marry, and prepare to make consequential decisions, and sacrifices, regarding children, money, and work. This forces them to reflect on how the series of choices that makes up a marriage will shape what happens to them and the children if the marriage ends—a thought process that goes far beyond whether to enter a prenuptial agreement.

Read more here.

October 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


From the New York Times:

Paris — I spend a lot of time listening to parents around the world complain. In Kiev recently, a working mother told me the joke about how Ukrainians are raised by same-sex couples: their mothers and grandmothers.

How hard or easy it is to raise kids, especially while working, is a big part of people’s well-being everywhere. This topic rarely gets much traction in American politics, but it’s become an issue in this election. Even Donald J. Trump, when he isn’t boasting that he can grab women by their genitals, claims he wants them to have a better work-life balance.

There is a dawning sense among voters that our lack of government support for child care, and the anxiety this causes, isn’t normal. In other rich countries — heck, even in Ukraine — parents get the state’s help in their children’s early years. Americans get practically nothing.

What we do get is a pervasive national angst. A forthcoming study in The American Journal of Sociology finds that Americans with children are 12 percent less happy than non-parents, the largest “happiness gap” of 22 rich countries surveyed. The main sources of parents’ unhappiness are the lack of paid vacation and sick leave, and the high cost of child care, the authors said.

Read more here.

October 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Family Names in Japan

From the Guardian:

The campaign for sexual equality in Japan has suffered another setback after a court ruled that a schoolteacher must use her married name at work, describing as “rational” her employer’s insistence on the practice.

The ruling at Tokyo district court came less than a year after the supreme court ruled that a 19th century law forcing married couples to use the same surname – almost always that of the husband – did not violate the constitution.

The teacher, who was not named, filed a lawsuit after her employer, Nihon University Daisangakuen, refused to allow her to use her birth name in professional interactions with pupils and parents.

The three male judges noted that while an increasing number of married women continued to use their birth names at work, the practice “has yet to take root in society”.

They cited a poll of 1,000 female workers in their 20s to 50s conducted in 2015 by the Nikkei business newspaper that found that more than 70% of married women used their husband’s name at work.

Read more here.

October 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Call for Proposals on Formative Assessments



The Impact of Formative Assessment:
Emphasizing Outcome Measures in Legal Education

The University of Detroit Mercy Law Review is pleased to announce its annual academic Symposium to be held on March 3, 2017, at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The Symposium will contemplate how the American Bar Association’s emphasis on outcome measures in its revised Standards for Approval will affect law students’ educational experience. Specific topics may address, but are not limited to, the following issues:

  1. The Need for and Benefits of Incorporating Formative Assessments into the Classroom
  • The importance of self-regulated learning and qualitative feedback; the benefits of formative assessment versus using only summative assessment; the effect of formative assessments on professors’ teaching experience.
  1. Methods for Incorporating Formative Assessments into the Classroom
  • The types of formative assessments that satisfy the ABA’s requirements; when qualitative feedback is most effective for student success; ways in which to implement formative assessments to improve student learning.
  1. Measuring the Success of Formative Assessments
  • The methods by which law schools can conduct ongoing evaluation of the assessment methods to adequately “measure the degree to which students have attained competency in the school’s learning outcomes” as required by the new ABA Standards.

The Law Review invites interested individuals to submit an abstract of 250-300 words that detail their proposed topic and presentation. Since the above list of topics is non-exhaustive, the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review encourages all interested parties to develop their own topic to present at the Symposium. Included with the abstract should be the author’s name, contact information, and a copy of their resume/curriculum vitae. Abstracts should indicate whether the proposal is for presentation and publication or for presentation only. Although publication is not required to present at the Symposium, preference will be given to proposals that include a commitment to produce a publishable article for the Symposium edition of the Law Review (to be published Fall 2017).

The deadline for abstract submissions is October 31, 2016. Individuals selected to present at the Symposium will be contacted by November 14, 2016.

Submissions, and any questions regarding the Symposium or the abstract process, should be directed to Law Review Symposium Director Erin Cobane at  

October 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

DNA Revealing Families

From the Washington Post:

Last year, Bob Nore, a Vietnam War veteran in Huntsville, Ala., was working on a family tree and wanted to trace his ancestors’ history and origins. So he sent a vial of saliva and $89 to a DNA registry for analysis.

The results showed British and Nordic stock — no surprises. But then Nore received a message from the registry that floored him: We have found a very high probability of a father-son relationship between you and Son Vo.

“I showed it to my wife, and then I looked him up online and found out that he was born in Vietnam shortly after I left,” said Nore, 67.

He vaguely recalled a brief relationship with a Vietnamese woman in Saigon in 1970, but he remembered little about her and had no idea she was pregnant. Yet he had no doubt that Vo, a 45-year-old musician in Los Angeles, was his son. As an engineer, he said, “I have a lot of trust in DNA.”

Read more here.

October 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

British women, please rally to support decriminalisation of abortion

From The Guardian:

In Poland mass protests have forced the government to drop plans to tighten its already draconian abortion laws. Yet here in Britain most people are unaware that women still live under the threat of being sentenced to life imprisonment if they end their own pregnancies by buying pills on the internet. Doctors also face harsh penalties if they do not fill in the correct forms before terminating a pregnancy.

Back in 1967 our law was changed to allow the legal ending of pregnancies if certain conditions were met. Otherwise the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act remained in place; and so it still is today – nearly half a century later.

On Wednesday 24 October a ten-minute rule bill is to be introduced to the House of Commons proposing that abortion in Britain is decriminalised. To do so would not only allow speedier and much less bureaucratic use of modern medical procedures, but would save a huge amount of NHS money while bringing us into line with countries such as Canada where medical abortion was decriminalised nearly three decades ago.

Read more here.

October 15, 2016 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 14, 2016

California Child Support: The 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions Answered

From The Huffington Post:

  1. How is it determined? Child support in California is based on a statewide guideline. The formula by which it is determined is rather complex. As a result, it is usually calculated by attorneys using one of a few computer programs licensed by companies that provide legal research software. The calculation is based upon the number of children, the income of each of the parents, the timeshare that each parent has custody, their tax filing status, and their tax-deductible expenses;

  2. Is there a dollar limit on the amount of support that one can be ordered to pay? Unlike some states, California does not provide for a cap in the amount of support to be ordered. The guideline calculation is the presumptively legal calculation in most cases. There are some very limited instances when the court can deviate from this, discussed below.

  3. What happens if the calculation generates an amount that is clearly higher than what is necessary to raise a child? The guideline calculation may or may not generate such a result. What is necessary to raise a child varies on a case-by-case basis. The law provides that a child is entitled to have a lifestyle commensurate with that of his or her parents. For this reason, a child support calculation that improves the lifestyle of the lower income parent is often upheld by the court. In those instances when the child support amount is so excessive that it bears no reasonable relationship to either the lifestyle of the parents or the amount of support required to raise a child commensurate with that lifestyle, the court may deviate from the guideline.

Read the answers and more here.


October 14, 2016 in Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement, Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Mistress-Dispelling in China

From the New York Times:

BEIJING — When Ms. Wang, a 39-year-old from Shanghai, discovered texts on her husband’s phone that suggested he was having an affair with one of his employees, she was distraught. “I couldn’t sleep at night and couldn’t stop crying,” she said. “I was very hurt.”

She decided to take action, though perhaps not in the expected way. Rather than confronting her husband, she searched online for a “mistress dispeller.’’

Mistress-dispelling services, increasingly common in China’s larger cities, specialize in ending affairs between married men and their extramarital lovers.

Typically hired by a scorned wife, they coach women on how to save their marriages, while inducing the mistress to disappear. For a fee that can start in the tens of thousands of dollars, they will subtly infiltrate the mistress’s life, winning her friendship and trust in an attempt to break up the affair. The services have emerged as China’s economy has opened up in recent decades, and as extramarital affairs grew more common.

Read more here.

October 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New York Expands the Definition of Parent for Unmarried Couples


On August 30, 2016, the New York Court of Appeals issued a landmark decision in In the Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C. As a result, New York now recognizes that children may have a second parent not related to them by blood, adoption, or marriage.  

The Brooke S.B. case involved Brooke and Elizabeth—unmarried partners in a lesbian couple—who were engaged to be married in 2007. In 2008, Elizabeth became pregnant through artificial insemination and gave birth to a baby boy. Brooke had no legal or biological ties to the child, but she maintained a close, parental relationship with him for years, which included giving him her last name and raising him jointly with Elizabeth.

The couple separated in 2010, and in 2013, Elizabeth began restricting Brooke’s contact with the child, so Brooke filed for custody.

Read more here.

October 12, 2016 in Adoption, Alternative Reproduction, Cohabitation (live-ins), Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

In Lebanon, a Tangle of Religious Laws Govern Life and Love

From The Atlantic:

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- When May Omari, now 45, tied the knot at age 23, she married a secular man in a secular marriage in New York City. As a formality, and to appease their Lebanese families, they later held a brief religious ceremony in Beirut. A Sunni Muslim mufti, or religious leader, came to her house, the couple signed a few papers, and she put them in a drawer.

After 18 years of married life and a move back to Lebanon, they decided to divorce. At that point, her religious marriage came back to haunt her. Although her husband had never shown a hint of piety in the past, she says, the prevailing interpretation of sharia family law in Lebanon granted him custody of the couple's two sons. And when he took them -- along with all the furniture -- there was nothing she could do.

Read more here.

October 11, 2016 in Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Judge: State must reply to lawyers seeking fees of $2.8M in DCS case

From The Indiana Lawyer:

A judge has ordered the state to reply to the petition of four lawyers for fees of $2.8 million for winning a $31 million judgment for a northern Indiana family victimized by the state Department of Child Services.
The four represented the family of Lynnette and Roman Finnegan, who sued DCS and others in 2008 for the wrongful removal of their children from their home and the for agency’s falsified substantiations against them in Pulaski County in late 2005. The nearly 8-year-old case culminated last year in the jury verdict, and Judge Rudy Lozano of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana last month denied the state’s motion to reduce the judgment.

Lozano on Wednesday issued an order giving the state 14 days from his Sept. 30 ruling upholding the jury’s award to respond to counsel’s petition for fees that was filed last November.

Read more here.

October 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Papers--Children’s Legal Rights Journal


Children’s Legal Rights Journal

Submission Details.

We invite you to submit articles that address any of the prominent and current issues that impact children. Articles should be received by December 1, 2016. Submissions should be previously unpublished pieces based on original work. All submissions should be between 15 and 60 pages (double­spaced) and in Bluebook format.

About the CLRJ. The Children’s Legal Rights Journal is a national journal sponsored by Loyola University Chicago School of Law in cooperation with the National Association of Counsel for Children. We publish articles on a variety of children’s legal issues and we are the only journal in the country specifically addressing legal needs of children.

Contact Information. All submissions and questions can be sent directly to CHILDLRJ@LUC.EDU. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. You can also contact CLRJ via mail and facsimile: Erika C. Weaver Solicitations Editor 25 E. Pearson, 11th Floor Chicago, IL 60611 Phone:312.915.6481 Fax: 312.915.6485. Stay tuned for future call outs! The CLRJ will publish one additional issue by the end of the academic year and we will be soliciting articles for that publication early next year. We look forward to reading your submissions!

October 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Exonerated inmate's $20M settlement is marital property in divorce, appeals court says

From the ABA Journal:

An exonerated inmate who married his wife while he was in prison can’t exclude his $20 million wrongful conviction settlement from marital property, an Illinois appeals court has ruled.

The Illinois Court of Appeals ruled in the case of Juan Rivera and Melissa Sanders-Rivera, the Chicago Tribune reports. Rivera had been imprisoned since his arrest in the 1992 murder of 11-year-old Holly Staker; he was cleared by DNA evidence and released from prison in January 2012.

Rivera was married on Halloween in 2000; he filed for divorce in May 2014. His settlement payout, after taxes and attorney fees, was about $11.4 million, according to court records cited by the Tribune.

Rivera had argued that the settlement was not marital property because it stemmed from conduct that occurred in 1992. Sanders-Rivera said the settlement is marital property because it stemmed from a lawsuit filed as a result of Rivera’s overturned conviction in 2011.

The appeals court sided with Sanders-Rivera in a Sept. 30 decision.

Read more here.

October 9, 2016 in Divorce (grounds), Property Division | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Actions Upon Divorce & Remarriage

From Naomi Cahn, writing on

While a divorce ends the marriage, it doesn’t end the legal entanglements—nor does remarriage necessarily grant all the rights you might assume.  As a law professor who teaches family law and estate planning, I remind my students that during both the challenges of divorce and the joys of remarriage, people need to keep track of some pretty nonromantic realities.   

There are many (admittedly boring) legal actions that you should think about adding to your to-do list, in divorce and in remarriage.    

Read about them here.

October 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Trigger Warnings in Family Law

A fellow family law professor asks the blogosphere for advice--

Does anyone use trigger warning when teaching family law?  Should family law professors consider trigger warnings, particularly when covering material pertaining to domestic violence?

Please post your thoughts in the comments section.


October 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Formative Assessment in Large Classes



Institute for Law Teaching & Learning and Emory University School of Law

Spring Conference 2017


“Compliance with ABA Standard 314: Formative Assessment in Large Classes” is a one-day conference for law teachers and administrators who want to learn how to design, implement, and evaluate formative assessment plans.  The conference will be interactive workshops during which attendees will learn about formative assessment techniques from games to crafting multiple choice questions to team-based learning.  Participants will also learn ways to coordinate assessment across the curriculum.   The conference workshop sessions will take place on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at Emory University School of Law.

Conference Content:  Sessions will address the following topics:

Why Assess: Empirical Data on How it Helps Students Learn

Games as Formative Assessments in the Classroom

Formative Assessment with Team-Based Learning

Creating Multiple Choice Questions and Ways to Using Them as Formative Assessment

Coordinating Formative Assessment Across the Curriculum

Conference Faculty:  Workshops will be taught by experienced faculty: Andrea Curcio (GSU Law), Lindsey Gustafson (UALR Bowen), Michael Hunter-Schwartz (UALR Bowen), Heidi Holland (Gonzaga) and Sandra Simpson (Gonzaga)


Who Should Attend:  This conference is for all law faculty and administrators.  By the end of the conference, attendees will have concrete and practical knowledge about formative assessment and complying with Standard 314 to take back to their colleagues and institutions. Details about the conference will be available on the websites of the Institute for Law Teaching & Learning and Emory University School of Law. 

Registration Information:  The registration fee is $225 for the first registrant from each law school.  We are offering a discounted fee of $200 for each subsequent registrant from the same school, so that schools may be able to send multiple attendees.  Details regarding the registration process will be provided in future announcements.

Accommodations:  A block of hotel rooms for conference attendees has been reserved at the Emory Conference Center Hotel for $159/night; at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown, Decatur for $99/night; and at the Decatur Holiday Inn for $159/night.  Reservation phone numbers are : Emory Conference Center Hotel: 1-800-933-6679; Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Decatur: or 1-404-371-0204; Holiday Inn Hotel Decatur 1-888-HOLIDAY.

October 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 3, 2016

American Role in International Surrogacy

From June Carbone, writing for Concurring Opinions:

At the beginning of September, I attended a conference on international surrogacy at the University of Hong Kong.  It confirmed my growing recognition of the importance of globalization of fertility treatments.   It also reinforced my sense of an extremely dynamic area of medical practice, with cutting edge new medical procedures increasingly taking place outside of the United States while the U.S. regulatory environment contributes to the systemization of controversial practices such as surrogacy and sex selection.

As part of my preparation for the conference, I started with a review of fertility clinic on-line sites.  The first time I did such a review more than a decade ago, I discovered that clinics were advertising the availability of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to increase success rates.  I later spoke to a woman who gave birth to healthy twins after years of failed treatments and attributed it all to PGD and the ability to select the genetically healthy from the petri dish.  The doctor congratulated her, saying “you see, the problem wasn’t with you, it was with your embryos.”  The next time I checked, the clinics were offering sex selections services.  If you use PGD, after all, you can choose which embryos to implant, and sex is often the most obvious characteristic to consider in making the choice among healthy embryos.   My most recent internet survey found the globalization of fertility practice, recruiting the wealthy of the world to come to the United States and helping Americans find more affordable treatments abroad.

Read more here.

October 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bypassing Divorce Courts

From Jane C. Murphy and Jana Singer, writing for Concurring Opinions:

The recent announcement that Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt and is seeking sole physical custody of their six children has triggered tabloid speculation about the ugly fight to come. But as family law teachers and scholars, we doubt that there will be a grisly courtroom showdown and we think its absence is a good thing.

That’s because families with money can now largely bypass the court system when it comes to divorce. The options for private dispute resolution have expanded significantly over the past two decades, particularly for divorces involving children. As we explain in our 2015 book, Divorced from Reality: Rethinking Family Dispute Resolution (NYU Press), there has been a dramatic shift in the legal system’s approach to child custody cases that began in the 1970’s. In part, this “paradigm shift” was driven by changes in substantive legal doctrine, particularly the shift from fault to no-fault divorce and the legal system’s embrace of joint custody. The elimination of fault as a prerequisite to divorce both reduced the role of judges and undermined the utility of traditional adversary procedures. With fault requisites to divorce removed, it was no longer necessary for a judge to determine whether a spouse had engaged in blameworthy conduct or which spouse was responsible for the breakdown of a marriage. Instead, the main job of the legal system in a no-fault regime is to determine the financial and parenting consequences of the marital dissolution – forward looking tasks for which court-based adversary procedures are, at best unwarranted.

Read more here.


October 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Alabama Judge Suspended Over Same-Sex Marriage Stance

From the New York Times:

Nine months after instructing Alabama’s probate judges to defy federal court orders on same-sex marriage, Roy S. Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was suspended on Friday for the remainder of his term for violating the state’s canon of judicial ethics.

It was the second time in his contentious career that Judge Moore, an outspoken conservative, was removed as chief justice, and it followed his most recent star turn in the nation’s culture wars.

The suspension was imposed by the state’s Court of the Judiciary, a nine-member body of selected judges, lawyers and others, which found Judge Moore guilty on six charges. While the court did not take him off the bench entirely, as it did in 2003 after he defied orders to remove a giant Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building, it effectively ended his state judicial career. His term ends in 2019, and Judge Moore, 69, will be barred by law from running for a judicial position again because of his age.

The court said in its decision that most, but not all, of its members had supported fully removing Judge Moore from the bench, but removal requires a unanimous vote. The decision to suspend him, the court said, was unanimous.

Read more here.

October 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)