Family Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Japan Could Lead in Women's Empowerment

From The Japan Times:

Japan could lead the global drive for greater gender equality but the country needs to step up its reforms, according to female world leaders who gathered at a symposium on women’s empowerment in Tokyo Wednesday.

“It would not be the first time in history when Japan would come from behind to overcome everybody,” Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva, the World Bank’s first ever chief executive officer, said in her keynote speech at the fourth World Assembly for Women in Tokyo.

She was referring to Japan’s economic growth in recent decades and its path to becoming the world’s third-largest economy.

“Bringing women in Japan to full participation would mean a 9 percent bigger GDP, in other words, a richer Japan,” Georgieva said.

She said that empowering women would be crucial to reduce the global financial gender gap estimated at between $5 trillion and $7 trillion.

Read more here.


November 9, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

5 Factors Predicting Divorce

From CNN:

Like the break-ups themselves, divorce rates are a complicated subject to study.

Questions abound: Should we really want divorce rates to go down? Is it true that about half of American marriages end in splitsville? And why are so many baby boomers ending things all of a sudden?

Read more here.

November 8, 2017 in Maintenance (alimony) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Abuse Found in Florida Juvenile Detention Center

From PBS:

A Miami Herald probe into Florida’s juvenile justice system reveals that guards were provoking incarcerated adolescents to be violent. A recent series by the newspaper, called "Fight Club," shows them beating the teenagers and forcing or bribing them to fight one another. Carol Marbin Miller, a senior investigative reporter for the Miami Herald who co-authored the series, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.

Read more here.

November 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Non-Deductibility of Alimony

From Business Insider:

The Republican tax plan hasn't met the expectations of advocates for "family-friendly" tax reform. Its child-credit provision is disappointingly small, in the eyes of Sen. Marco Rubio, and it abolishes the adoption tax credit altogether.

But there is one provision that could be construed as "pro-family": a tax penalty for divorce.

The tax bill released Thursday would change the tax treatment of alimony. Currently, alimony is tax-deductible for the paying spouse and taxable to the receiving spouse. But if you get divorced after the plan is enacted, that would change: Alimony would be paid out of after-tax dollars and would be tax-free to the recipient.

This change would tend to increase the total amount of tax paid by divorced couples, since the ex-spouse who pays alimony is typically the one with the higher income and who faces a higher tax bracket.

Read more here.

Hat Tip: CR

November 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Women Turn to Black Market for Fertility Drugs

From WPTV5:

TULSA -- Women looking to conceive are turning to the black market to buy fertility drugs. 

One in ten women struggles with getting pregnant and turn to doctors for help. 

KJRH spoke to an Oklahoma woman, who asked to remain anonymous, who sells her leftover fertility drugs. 

When asked if she thought she was doing something dangerous in any way she said no. 

"I know I have good intentions and I know that I want to help someone else and do everything I can," the woman said. 

She posted her leftovers to an online marketplace. She listed her Follistim for $375, Menopur for $175 and Ganirelix for $65. Compare that to the price those drugs are sold in the pharmacy and the savings run into the thousands. 

"You're maxing out your credit card and financing and everything," the woman said. "It's just you would do anything to have [a baby], but you're just hemorrhaging money." 

Read more here

November 6, 2017 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Proposal to Eliminate Remarriage Waiting Period

From Wisconsin State Journal:

Divorced people could remarry as soon as their divorce is finalized under a proposed bill in the state Legislature that would eliminate a six-month remarriage waiting period.

While supporters of the proposal say it’s not the state’s responsibility to say when someone is ready to marry, opponents say that they fear eliminating the waiting period could lead to more divorces because couples rush into new marriages.

Wisconsin is among six states that have a remarriage waiting period, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It’s unclear why Wisconsin enacted the law in the first place.

Read more here. 

November 5, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Domestic Violence App

From FOX 10:

- It's what many experts call "The Quiet Epidemic." 

The fact that about one-third of American women have experienced domestic violence in their lives, with many of them having those first experiences in college.

"Of women who've experienced domestic violence in their lifetimes, almost half have had their experiences between the ages of 18 and 34," Jill Messing said.

Read more here.

November 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Marriage Penalty

From Slate:

Our tax system is a relic of 1948, when the system of joint filing for married couples began. It benefits an ideal of the family that was rarer than we think even back then: the (straight) breadwinner-homemaker nuclear married family. A 1947 study on the congressional record predicted that “only about one in ten families would benefit from joint filing.” Researchers suggest Congress agreed to joint filing less out of a desire to save couples money and more because, “After World War II, Congress wanted women to relinquish their jobs so those jobs could be filled by soldiers returning home.” Unlike in 1948 when this system was created, there is now nearly double the number of dual-income to single-earner marriages.

For most economists, the marriage penalty describes the effect of joint filing on low-income couples who get bumped into a higher tax bracket and lose important low-income benefits (this is also true but less devastating for high-income and equal-earning couples). But married women up and down the income ladder are unknowingly dealing with yet another tax specter when they get married: secondary earner bias.

Read more here.

November 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Stiff Sentence

From the Cut:

A judge in Hawaii recently sentenced a man to a cruel-and-unusual punishment: He has to write 144 compliments about his ex-girlfriend.

Read more here.

November 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Pennsylvania's New Adoption Law

Under a law that goes into effect Friday, adoptees over age 18 can apply for their birth records for the first time in 33 years. The law allows them to get their birth records — just like non-adopted people.

Who's affected?

Adoptees — people who were adopted as children — who are at least 18 years old and have finished high school may now apply to the state Department of Health for a copy of their birth certificate. Before this law was passed, adoptees could petition the courts for their birth certificate, but a judge could deny the request. Since 1984, adoption records in Pennsylvania have been sealed.

Why was the law proposed?

Read more here.

November 3, 2017 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women's Careers

From the Harvard Business Review:

I was at a dinner with eight highly successful professional women recently, ranging in age from 35 to 74. Their stories were typical of research I have been conducting on dual-career couples. One had just been given a huge promotion opportunity in another country, but had struggled for several months to get her spouse to agree to join her. Another had decided that to save her marriage, she would take a yearlong sabbatical and go back to school, giving the family some balance and a breather from two high-powered jobs. A third had tried to work part-time for her law firm but quickly realized she was being professionally sidelined. She opted for a doctorate instead. Her husband continued his career.

This experience underlines the conclusion I’ve drawn from years of research and experience: Professionally ambitious women really only have two options when it comes to their personal partners — a super-supportive partner or no partner at all. Anything in between ends up being a morale- and career-sapping morass.

This is the reality of the half-baked transition we are in when it comes to women in the workplace. The 20th century saw the rise of women. The 21st century will see the adaptation (or not) of men to the consequences of that rise. The reality is that the transition is not smooth and the backlashes will be regular, but the benefits are potentially huge.

Read more here.

November 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Surrogate Unknowingly Gives Away Own Child

From the Washington Post:

Jessica Allen was already the mother of two boys when she decided to become a surrogate.


Last December, Allen gave birth to both babies by C-section at a hospital in Riverside, Calif. She claimed she was not allowed to see the newborns or spend an hour with them, as her contract with Omega Family Global had outlined — leaving her heartbroken days after the delivery. She had only briefly seen a cellphone picture of the babies and remarked that they looked different.

Only later would she realize how accurate her observation had been.

On Jan. 10, nearly a month after the babies were born, Allen said she received a message from “Mrs. Liu” with another picture of the twins.

“They are not the same, right?” the message read, according to the New York Post. “Have you thought about why they are different?”

A DNA test would soon reveal the truth: One of the “twins” was actually Allen and Jasper’s biological son. Despite using condoms, they had apparently conceived the child after becoming pregnant with the Lius’ baby, in what is believed to be an extremely rare case of superfetation.

Read more here.

November 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Divorce Rate in China

From South China Morning Post:

Unlike older generations who may have settled for an unhappy marriage, divorce is no longer socially taboo in China.

Couples can either register a divorce with the civil affairs authority, indicating they have agreed to go their separate ways, or they can sue for divorce through the courts, which can rule on custody of children and how to dispose of any assets.

In the first six months of this year, 1.85 million couples registered for divorce with the civil affairs authority alone, an increase of more than 10 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Three decades ago, in 1986, 460,000 couples registered their divorces with the civil affairs authority – the most common route taken. By 2016, that annual number had risen to 4.15 million.

The average age at which people in China get married is 26, according to a 2015 survey by the All-China Women’s Federation.

Many relationship experts and lawyers put the rising divorce rate down to higher expectations and growing financial independence, especially among women.

But buried in the sharply climbing statistics lies a darker truth: domestic violence and extramarital affairs together are the leading causes of divorce in China.

Read more here.

November 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Interim Disbursements in Canada

Family law cases can be complex.

Many provinces have legislation requiring a separating couple to value their assets and debts at the date of marriage and the date of separation or trial and “equalize” the difference. All provinces have laws in place which set out the way in which a spouse’s income must be calculated when determining child and spousal support.

While determining the value of some assets, such as publicly traded shares or cash investments, is relatively straightforward, many assets or debts are not nearly so easy to value.

Sophisticated legal assistance and expert valuation advice may be required. Chartered business valuators, accountants and actuaries are frequently called upon to assist the lawyer, the client and the court on issues which can range from valuing shares held by a spouse in a private company, to whether the value of a debt owed to a party should be discounted because it may not be collectable. If a spouse is not a T-4’d employee, determining income for support purposes can be similarly difficult.

But what happens when the parties are not in an equal financial position? As contingency fees are not available in family law, how can a spouse with few assets or little income retain the professionals required to allow the moneyed spouse’s experts to be “tested,” or even hire counsel to argue the matter in court?


Read more here.

November 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Arizona Tribe Ordered to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

PHOENIX (AP) — A tribal court has cleared the way for gay couples to marry on an American Indian reservation in the Phoenix area after a two-year legal battle that could have repercussions for Native Americans elsewhere.

The court ruled that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the constitution of the Ak-Chin community and the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968.

“This decision made it clear that the tribal law was unconstitutional under tribal law” and not just U.S. federal law, said attorney Sonia Martinez, who represented the same-sex couple in the lawsuit. “I have no idea if other tribes are going to do the same thing, but I think it at least opens the door.”


Read more here.


October 31, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy Halloween


October 31, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 30, 2017

UK Cracking Down On Child Maintenance

Parents will no longer be able to use a legal loophole to avoid paying child maintenance, under new laws to be brought in within months.

If a parent owes maintenance, payment can currently be taken only from a bank account held solely by them.

A "small minority" are avoiding payments by having a joint account with a partner, the government says.

It says new rules mean money can be taken from joint accounts, which could mean an extra £390,000 being collected.


Read more here.

October 30, 2017 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Higdon Recent Family Law Articles

Michael Higdon (University of Tennessee College of Law) has recently posted two family law articles to SSRN:

Polygamous Marriage, Monogamous Divorce, 67 Duke L.J. 79 (2017).  Here is the abstract:

Could the constitutional right to marry also encompass polygamy? That question, which has long intrigued legal scholars, has taken on even greater significance in the wake of Obergefell v. Hodges. This Article answers that question in a novel way by scrutinizing the practice of plural marriage through the lens of economic game theory, exploring the extreme harms that would befall the state should polygamy become law. More specifically, the Article delves into the ex ante consequences of legalization, not on practicing polygamists (as is typically the focus), but on sequential bigamists—that is, those who never intend to have more than one spouse at any given time but who nonetheless marry more than one person in their lifetime. The Article concludes that the state has a compelling economic interest in limiting marriage to two people. If polygamy were to become the law of the land, states could no longer prohibit bigamy. In turn, separating couples would lose one of the strongest incentives they currently have to choose formal divorce proceedings over the seemingly simpler option of mutual desertion: the threat of criminal charges for bigamy. In essence, a sequential bigamist could then marry multiple times in his lifetime without ever divorcing and, at the same time, without risking a criminal charge of bigamy. Such actions—dubbed “sequential polygamy”—would compromise the state’s interest in protecting its citizens from financial harms. After all, divorce proceedings provide the state with an opportunity to intercede into the process, thereby obtaining some assurance that those who are leaving a marriage are not doing so at their financial peril. With the legalization of polygamy, however, bigamy becomes a thing of the past, eroding the state’s ability to encourage divorce as a means of safeguarding the health and safety of its citizens. Most concerning is the impact this change would have on those living in poverty—the people likely to be hardest hit by any societal shift away from formal divorce. Finally, any attempts by the state to distinguish between bigamy and polygamy (for example, by permitting plural marriage but only if all spouses consent), would fail to ameliorate the resulting harm to its citizens.


Constitutional Parenthood, Iowa L. Rev. (forthcoming).  Here is the abstract:

Despite having recognized the constitutional rights of parents almost a hundred years ago, the Supreme Court has not weighed in on the subject of who qualifies as a “parent” under the Fourteenth Amendment in thirty years. In light of the Court’s silence, the states have been forced to individually grapple with the issue of constitutional parenthood — a task made exponentially more difficult by the fact that the last thirty years have ushered in an avalanche of change when it comes to the American family. With such societal changes as advances in assisted reproduction, the legalization of same-sex marriage, and the increased frequency of divorce, remarriage and cohabitation, states now regularly encounter claims of parental identity that thirty years ago would have been unimaginable. Nonetheless, the states have persevered, adopting a number of approaches to deal with these increasingly thorny issues. The problem, however, is that the constitutional protections that are afforded parents now vary by state. Even more troubling is the fact that some states have defined “parent” in such a way as to discriminate against those families that do not comport with that states’ conception of the “ideal” family. To solve this problem, this Article makes two proposals. First, the Supreme Court must offer more guidance on how states may define constitutional parenthood. Although a definitive definition of the term is both impractical and unrealistic, the Court can and should delineate the outer boundaries of that constitutional standard. Second, taking a cue from some of the tests developed by the states, this Article proposes what exactly those boundaries should be so as to help craft a definition of constitutional parenthood that is more responsive to and protective of the twenty-first century family.

October 30, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Australia Prepares for Same-Sex Marriage Vote

From Reuters:

SYDNEY - (Reuters) - Thousands of people rallied around Australia on Saturday urging the legalization of same-sex marriage, one week before final ballots can be submitted in a contentious postal survey on the issue that has divided the country.

The largest crowd was in Sydney, where organizers said between 5,000 and 10,000 people gathered in front of Central Station before marching along one of the city’s biggest roads to Victoria Park.

Read more here.

October 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

New York's Low Divorce Rate

From The New York Post:

Forget Virginia, New York is for lovers!

Love is alive in the Empire State, which has the country’s fourth lowest divorce rate, new data reveals.

And couples stuck it out even more often New Jersey, which ranked the third best place to get hitched, according to census data compiled by the blog 24/7 Wall Street.

In New York, only 12.9 per 1,000 married people called it quits in 2016, according to census data. In New Jersey 12.7 per 1,000 people split the same year.

Read more here.

October 28, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)