Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

UK Internet Charity Finds Fourfold Increase in Child Abuse Imagery

From Yahoo News:

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), an online child sex abuse charity, said on Thursday that the number of reports of images and videos containing child abuse had increased by 417 percent over the last two years.

In its annual report, the IWF said 68,092 reports had been positively identified as containing illegal child sexual abuse imagery and taken down.

That represented a 118 percent increase over the previous year, it said.

Prime Minister David Cameron gave his approval for the IWF to start proactively searching for online child sexual abuse imagery in April 2014.

From that time, IWF analysts could themselves search for child abuse imagery rather than just acting upon reports they received, prompting a dramatic increase in the number of images identified.

"By being allowed to actively search for these hideous images of children, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the sheer number of illegal images and videos that we’ve been able to remove from the internet," IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves said in a statement.

Of the images discovered in 2015, 69 percent were of children aged 10 or under and 34 per cent were Category A which involves the rape or sexual torture of children, the IWF said.

Hargreaves said the IWF planned to increase the number of its analysts to 17 from 12.

 

Read more here.

April 25, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Papers

Dear colleagues:

 

Please visit this call for panels and papers for the 2016 Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) Teaching Conference

Proposals are due by June 15, 2016.  We look forward to seeing you in Chicago this fall!

 

Friday and Saturday, September 30 and October 1, 2016 

The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois

April 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Save the Date

SAVE THE DATE: Central States Law Schools Scholarship Conference
The Central States Law Schools Association 2016 Scholarship Conference will be held on Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24 at the University of North Dakota School of Law in Grand Forks, ND.  
CSLSA is an organization of law schools dedicated to providing a forum for conversation and collaboration among law school academics. The CSLSA Annual Conference is an opportunity for legal scholars, especially more junior scholars, to present working papers or finished articles on any law-related topic in a relaxed and supportive setting where junior and senior scholars from various disciplines are available to comment. More mature scholars have an opportunity to test new ideas in a less formal setting than is generally available for their work. Scholars from member and nonmember schools are invited to attend. 
Registration will formally open in July. Hotel rooms are already available, and more information about the CSLSA conference can be found on our website at www.cslsa.us.

April 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Abortion Procedure Challenged as "Torture" in Alabama

From ABC News:

A commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure would be illegal under a new bill debated in the Alabama legislature on Wednesday.

The House Health Committee held a public hearing on a bill that supporters say would prohibit a medical procedure called dilation and evacuation, or "D&E." The bill would allow the procedure, which it describes as "dismemberment abortion," in the event of a "serious health risk to the mother."

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a similar bill into law last week, while West Virginia lawmakers overrode their governor's veto in March to pass a similar law. D&E bans in Kansas and Oklahoma have been struck down by state courts.

Supporters of the bill on Wednesday compared D&E procedures to torture and medieval forms of punishment.

"I don't see how a civilized society could support these barbaric procedures," said the bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Mack Butler.

Elizabeth Potter Graham, an attorney who spoke against the bill, said it is a woman's "fundamental right" to choose the procedure.

D&Es, or surgical abortions, are used in the majority of second-trimester procedures, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Butler's bill does not target medical abortions, which are induced by medication and have higher complication rates than surgical abortions in the second trimester, according to the ACOG.

Read more here.

 

April 24, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

"Abortion Reversal" Laws Gain Steam, Despite Scant Scientific Evidence

From STAT:

South Dakota will soon require doctors to tell women that they can change their minds after taking the abortion pill and potentially halt an abortion in progress. Arizona and Arkansas passed similar laws last year. And an antiabortion group is promoting model legislation to inform women they can “reverse” medication abortions.

Yet that claim has no solid science behind it — just an anecdotal case report written by a physician who invented a protocol and arranged to have it tested on a half-dozen patients who regretted swallowing the abortion pill.

That’s raised alarms among mainstream medical groups.

“As physicians, we can’t just experiment on patients willy-nilly,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco. Doctors offering to undo medical abortions are “essentially testing an unproven, experimental protocol on pregnant women,” he said.

The new laws target the growing popularity of the abortion pill at a time when states have forced many surgical abortion clinics out of business with tight regulation.

About 2 million women have taken the pill since it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000; it is now responsible for 40 to 50 percent of pregnancy terminations in some states. The FDA recently took steps to expand access to medication abortions by approving their use through 10 weeks of pregnancy, up from the previous limit of seven weeks.

To push back, antiabortion groups have been urging states to restrict access to abortion pills — for instance, by mandating that they be dispensed only after a face-to-face examination by a doctor, rather than a video consultation. More recently, Americans United for Life has been circulating a model bill which would require doctors to advise all women taking the pill that they might be able to reverse the abortion, “but that time is of the essence.”

Read more here.

April 23, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Using Data to Predict Child Abuse

From Marketplace.org:

Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth are used to treating cases of abuse. Dyann Daley, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Cook Children’s, remembers a tiny toddler who had been kicked by his father in the stomach. “We didn’t know exactly what the injury was when he came into the operating room," she said. "But he had come into the hospital awake.”

Although doctors tried to keep him alive, the injury just wasn't survivable. He bled to death during surgery. "It was an emotional time because of the type of injury he had and how close he was in age to my own children,” Daley said.

In 2013, more than 1,500 American children died from abuse and neglect. That's the most recent national info available. Last year in Texas, the Department of Family and Protective Services announced 170 children died. Tarrant County, which includes the city of Fort Worth, has one of the highest rates of abuse in the state. Dyann Daley, who runs Cook Children's Center for Prevention of Child Maltreatment,  says no one really knows why.

 "Some people say we’re better at catching it or better at reporting it," she said. "I’ve worked in a number of children’s hospitals in Texas and also in other places in the United States. And I’ve never seen as much physical abuse as I see here.”

 Daley has been on a mission to train doctors and nurses to recognize the signs of abuse early – like suspicious bruises or marks. But detecting abuse is hard. Especially for infants who may not interact with teachers or nurses familiar with the clues.

 What they’d really like to do is prevent it. So they're experimenting with “big data” technology that could help predict neighborhoods where kids are most likely to be abused.

 It's known as predictive analytics. “This technology has been used to predict where shootings would occur and other types of violent crimes, but no one had applied it to domestic violence, like child maltreatment before,” Daley said.

Read more here.

April 22, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Unwed Mothers in Singapore Now Get Same as Others

From The Straits Times:

SINGAPORE - Unwed mothers will finally get the same 16-week maternity leave that other mothers get.

And their children will also be given a Child Development Account, which helps pay for childcare and healthcare needs.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin announced on Tuesday (April 12) the extension of these benefits - currently applicable only for married parents - to unmarried mothers and their children.

Read more here.

April 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

American Child Brides

From NPR:

More than 700 million women worldwide today were married as children, and most of them are in developing countries. But there is a growing recognition that many young teens are marrying in the United States as well — and several states are now taking action to stop it.

Advocates say the young marriages run the gamut: They include teens of every ethnicity and religion, teens who are American-born and teens who are not being forced into arranged marriages.

"To be honest with you, I begged my parents to let me get married," says Rachel Holbrook, who was 15 when she decided she wanted to marry her 21-year-old boyfriend.

Read more here.

April 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Jewish Prenup on the Rise

From the Wall Street Journal:

Before their March wedding, Tova Ross and Shaul Yaakov Morrison made the usual preparations: picking out china, finishing place cards, planning a guys’ night out.

They also set aside an evening for something that is on the rise among engaged Orthodox Jewish couples: signing a prenuptial agreement.

The halachic prenup, as it is called, is a document binding under Jewish law that helps to ensure that Ms. Ross, 22 years old, would be able to obtain a religious divorce from Mr. Morrison, 23. They signed theirs, with witnesses and a notary present, at the office of the New York-based Organization for the Resolution of Agunot.

“Part of going into a relationship with someone is making sure that you trust each other,” said Mr. Morrison. “We care enough about each other now to be protected in the unlikely event something were to change.”

The halachic prenup—which dates back decades and has been championed by the Beth Din of America, the U.S.’s biggest rabbinical court—has gone mainstream in some circles as a mechanism to avoid the messy, sometimes abusive situations that advocates say can arise as divorce becomes more common in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Read more here.

April 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Teens Aging Out of Foster Care Face Difficult Challenges

From CBS Denver:

Every year thousands of teens age out of the fostercare system on their 18th birthday. They are on their own whether they’re ready for it or not. And statistics show they don’t fare well. Many of them end up homeless, unemployed, drug addicted, or in jail. Gordon Davidson faced that same fate.

“It’s a trap. Kids are not prepared to enter life without influence, without guidance, without education,” Davidson said.

After 13 years in foster care, Davidson was kicked out of his foster home on his 18th birthday.

“Within a year I was out on the streets. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any people really in my corner that I was able to rely on,” he explained.

Davidson stayed on friends’ couches for a few years while he struggled to get control of his life. Then he found a program called Bridging the Gap at Mile High United Way. The program supports teens who are aging out of foster care.

“We really try to engage each youth and figure out where they are and how with what’s available they can take advantage and really sort of get a grasp on a future,” Davidson told CBS4.

He volunteers for the program now, acting as mentor for other teens who are going through what he went through.

Davidson was able to get a college degree and land a job as an IT Specialist at Mile High United Way.

Read more here.

 

April 18, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Could Paid Parental Leave Happen in Indianapolis?

From Fox 59:

Paid parental leave is a growing trend across the country. New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and California all have laws requiring paid leave for new parents.

On Tuesday, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to require employers to give six weeks paid parental leave, but could it happen in Indianapolis?

Lawmakers say it’s a great idea, but are unclear at this point if it can become a reality in Indianapolis.

Councilman Jeff Miller says any discussion on paid parental needs to be well thought out and local businesses need to be included in the conversation.

“It would take a lot of research on our part. You know it’s very early to say what would or wouldn’t work in Indianapolis, but what I do like is we have examples being put out there that we can look at, monitor,” said Councilman Miller.

In Indiana, parents can take up to 12 weeks off a year through the Family Medical Leave Act, but it's unpaid.

Parents say this could be big for all Hoosier families if it becomes a reality.

Read more here.

April 17, 2016 in Paternity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cohabitation, Marriage, and Union Instability in Europe

From Family Studies:

There has always been a fierce debate about the relationship between cohabitation and divorce risks. Some argue that cohabitation lessens people’s commitment to partnership and thus increases their risk of divorce, while others believe that a cohabitation phase before marriage (as a trial marriage) would strengthen marital stability. In the United States, data suggest that the effect of cohabitation on marriage is at best neutral; however, in European countries, the effect of cohabitation on marital stability varies markedly, according to a study covering the last decade of the twentieth century (Liefbroer and Dourleijn, 2006).

In some countries, like Austria and the USA, over 30 percent of individuals’ first unions were cohabiting relationships, while in other countries, like Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, Spain, and the UK, more than half of all first unions were marriages not preceded by cohabitation. Cohabitation followed by marriage is most common (describing more than 30 percent of first unions) in Austria, Germany, and Norway.

 

 

Why such variation in union formation and stability? The legal foundations of cohabitation and marriage differ from one European country to another. In some countries, like the Netherlands, simply living together for a few years provides a legal basis to the cohabitation and allows the couple to act together (for instance, to obtain a home mortgage based on both partners’ incomes). In other countries, establishing a legal basis for cohabitation may require a contract drawn up by a notary, or a registration at the town hall (France). Further, in some countries, dissolving a legalized cohabitation has to be done in court, especially if there are children involved.

In most European countries (especially those that have used the Napoleonic Code Civile for their own laws), getting married is not a religious act, but a secular one that must take place before any religious marriage ceremony. This is the case in the Netherlands, for example. And even in places like Italy where one can become legally married within a religious ceremony, only civil laws, not the laws of the religion, are relevant for the ceremony’s consequences (for instance, divorce). Therefore, in some nations, the differences between a legalized cohabitation and a marriage are slim. When couples can enjoy some of the legal and financial benefits of partnerships without marrying, they may be more likely to simply cohabit.

Read more here.

April 16, 2016 in Cohabitation (live-ins) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Abortion Rights Advocates Rally at Indiana Statehouse

From South Bend Tribune:

Hundreds of abortion rights supporters gathered Saturday at the Indiana Statehouse to protest an anti-abortion law signed by Gov. Mike Pence that is among the most restrictive in the U.S.

Some waved signs reading "Fire Mike Pence" while speakers took turns criticizing the law, which bans abortions sought because of fetal genetic abnormalities.

Rachael Himsel, of Bloomington, held a large banner that said "Stop This Pencestrual Cycle." She says the new law amounts to lawmakers intruding in a private decision that should be made between a woman and her doctor.

National backlash to the law has been building, and the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky have also sued the state, calling it unconstitutional.

The Republican governor says the law affirms the sanctity of life while still allowing abortions if a mother's life is at risk.

"I believe that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable--the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn," Pence said last month when he signed the measure.

Under its provisions, doctors could be sued for wrongful death or face professional reprimanded if they perform an abortion sought due to genetic abnormality or a fetus' race or sex. There is an exemption for fetuses not expected to live past three months if brought to term.

One provision in the law requiring that all aborted or miscarried fetuses be cremated or buried was particularly galling, said Himsel, who says she once miscarried.

Read more here.

April 15, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Pope Francis Calls For More Grace, Less Dogma on Divorce and Remarriage

From NPR:

In a major document released Friday, Pope Francis addressed divisive elements of Catholic doctrine — including how to treat couples who remarry after a divorce that wasn't annulled by the church, and the church's stance on contraception.

Without issuing any new top-down doctrine, Francis said that priests should focus on providing pastoral care for Catholic couples, rather than sitting in judgment of them, and that individual conscience should be emphasized, rather than dogmatic rules.

The document — a post-synodal apostolic exhortation called "Amoris Laetitia," or "The Joy of Love" — is more than 250 pages long.

In it, the pope emphasizes that life is more complicated than religious law. In the opening pages, he invokes the values of "generosity, commitment, fidelity and patience," but also says he wishes to "encourage everyone to be a sign of mercy and closeness wherever family life remains imperfect or lacks peace and joy."

 

He explains that in Amoris Laetitia, in addition to considering scripture, he will "examine the actual situation of families, in order to keep firmly grounded in reality." And he notes that Jesus set forth a demanding ideal for his followers — but "never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals."

Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter told NPR's Morning Edition that the exhortation has a very different tone than previous church pronouncements on these subjects.

Read more here.

April 14, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Triple Talaq: India's Muslim Women Right Against Instant Divorce

From BBC News:

India is perhaps the only country in the world where a Muslim man can divorce his wife in a matter of minutes by just uttering the word talaq (divorce) three times. But this controversial practice of "triple talaq" is now facing a stiff challenge - the Supreme Court is considering whether to declare it unconstitutional, writes the BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi.

Shayara Bano's world came crashing down in October.

The 35-year-old mother of two was visiting her parents' home in the northern state of Uttarakhand for medical treatment when she received her talaqnama - a letter from her husband telling her that he was divorcing her.

Her attempts to reach her husband of 15 years, who lives in the city of Allahabad, have been unsuccessful.

"He's switched off his phone, I have no way of getting in touch with him," she told the BBC over phone from her home in the northern state of Uttarakhand. "I'm worried sick about my children, their lives are getting ruined."

In February, a frustrated Shayara Bano filed a petition in the Supreme Court, demanding a total ban on triple talaq which, she says, allows Muslim men to treat their wives like "chattel".

Muslims are India's largest minority community with a population of 155 million and their marriages and divorces are governed by the Muslim personal law, ostensibly based on the sharia.

Even though it has been practised for decades now, the unilateral instant triple talaq is clearly an aberration - it finds no mention in sharia or the Koran.

Islamic scholars say the Koran clearly spells out how to issue a divorce - it has to be spread over three months which allows a couple time for reflection and reconciliation.

Read more here.

April 13, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Who Exactly Gets Divorced?

From the Washington Post:

There’s this persistent myth in America that about half of all marriages end in divorce.

In fact, the figures are significantly lower, as new graphics by Nathan Yau of Flowing Data demonstrate.

Yau explains that this myth simply stems from bad math – dividing the divorce rate by the marriage rate in a given year. In 2014, there were 8.7 divorces and 17 marriages per 1,000 women in the United States, he says, citing figures from the American Community Survey. If you divide the first number by the second number, you get 51 percent.

The problem is that the people who are marrying each other in 2014 aren’t the same as the people who are divorcing each other in 2014. If you look at the data over a longer period of time, it becomes clear that the divorce rate is lower than half.

As Claire Cain Miller wrote at the Upshot, the divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining since then. In fact, if current marriage and divorce rate continues, only about one-third of American marriages will end in divorce, the Upshot’s Justin Wolfers has calculated.

But the rates are much higher for some groups than others, as Yau’s graphs show.

Read more here.

April 12, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Experts Say Domestic Violence More Complex Than People Think

From Ventura County Star:

Domestic violence was thrust into the forefront of the Jane Laut trial, which concluded last week when jurors found the Oxnard woman guilty of first-degree murder for killing her husband, Dave, at their Oxnard home in 2009.

During the trial, the 58-year old woman claimed she was raped, beaten and emotionally abused by her husband during their 29-year marriage. She said she acted in self-defense and shot him after he threatened her, their dogs and son, Michael.

Dave Laut's family said her claims of abuse were complete lies and an excuse for murder.

Jurors who talked to The Star said even if she was battered by her husband, the abuse did not justify her killing him.

One juror said Jane Laut's family "would have supported her" and "murder wasn't the way out."

LEAVING THE ABUSER

Experts in domestic abuse and battered woman syndrome, however, said the psychological distress victims undergo is complicated by various factors that keep a woman from leaving an abusive partner.

"You have to understand that there is an addictive quality to these relationships," said Mindy Puopolo, associate professor of psychology at California Lutheran University. "These relationships provide an emotional equilibrium where the violence becomes the norm."

Puopolo, who runs Cal Lutheran's Intimate Partner Violence Program, said victims were often raised in abusive environments and "can't tolerate a loving relationship without violence."

 

Read more here.

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

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Federal Judge Voids Mississippi Ban on Same-Sex Couple Adoptions

From The Washington Post:

A federal judge in Mississippi ordered the state to drop its ban on adoptions by same-sex married couples, saying Wednesday that it doesn’t pass muster under the Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark marriage ruling.

The law was said to be the last of its kind in the U.S. But efforts to skirt the full implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges using laws described as “religious freedom acts” remain alive and well in a number of Republican-led states along with measures permitting discrimination against transgender people.

The state’s prohibition on adoption by same-sex couples was enacted in 2000, as state and federal courts began the process of legalizing same-sex marriage, and reads, simply, “Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.”

It was challenged by four lesbian couples wishing to adopt children either privately or through the state’s foster care system.

Judge Daniel P. Jordan III, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, called the state’s defense of the law “tepid,” based mostly on issues of standing, and which agency or part of government could or could not be sued.

April 10, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Indiana Abortion Bill Foes Troll Governor About Their Periods

From USA Today:

A social media campaign by opponents of a restrictive new Indiana abortion bill has prompted women to call Gov. Mike Pence's office to report on the status of their menstrual cycle.

The Facebook page "Periods for Pence" has received more than 11,500 "likes" since it was posted three days ago. By Saturday, a Twitter page was also up and running.

The measure, signed into law last week by Pence, a Republican, makes Indiana only the second state to prohibit a woman from seeking an abortion because her fetus was diagnosed with a disability such as Down syndrome. It also prohibits abortions when they are sought based on the gender or race of a fetus and requires the remains of miscarried or aborted fetuses to be interred or cremated.

Pence, a social conservative with a long track record of opposing abortion, described the new restrictions as a “comprehensive pro-life measure that affirms the value of all human life,” The Indianapolis Star reports.

The "Period for Pence" group calls on supporters to "Let Governor Mike Pence know what you think about his intrusive HEA 1337 bill. Women should have the right to make their own medical decisions!"

It includes purported calls by women who said they took up the suggestion to call the governor:

Caller: "I need to get a message to the Governor that I am on day three of my period. My flow seems abnormally heavy, but my cramps are much better," one woman called to say.

Read more here.

April 9, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Poles Protest Possibility of Total Ban on Abortion

From ABC News:

Thousands of Poles took part in street demonstrations on Sunday to protest a possible tightening of the country's abortion law, already one of the most restrictive in Europe.

The rallies in Warsaw and other cities were held under the slogan "No to the torture of women" and came as the influential Roman Catholic Church launched a campaign for a total ban on abortion, something supported by Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Abortion is currently illegal in Poland in most cases but there are exceptions if the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman's health or life, if it results from a crime like incest or rape or if the fetus is damaged.

Protesters say a total ban would lead to women dying or force them to travel to other countries for abortions. In Warsaw they strung up coat hangers, a symbol of primitive underground abortions.

The current abortion law dates to 1993 and was a compromise between the country's liberal and Catholic circles.

Read more here.

April 8, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)