Family Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Clerks Must Issue Same-Sex Marriage License

From Bloomberg Business:

A Kentucky county clerk must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected contentions that she is being forced to violate her religious convictions.

The justices, without explanation, refused to lift a lower court order requiring Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to resume distributing marriage licenses. She stopped issuing any licenses -- and defied an order from the state’s governor -- after the Supreme Court ruled in June that gay marriage is a constitutional right.

Read more here.

September 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Child Marriage is as Popular as ever in Bangladesh

From The Washington Post:

On her wedding day, 15-year- old Nasoin Akhter looked “melancholic,” according to photographer Allison Joyce, who documented the teenage girl’s wedding to her 32-year-old husband, Mohammad Hasamur Rahman, last week in Manikganj, Bangladesh.

“It’s tradition for the bride to look shy and coy during the wedding,” Joyce told The Washington Post in an e-mail. “But I noticed this sadness and unspoken fear and uncertainty even when she was in her room with her friends before the ceremony or at the parlor with her sister (who was also married around the same age). She was withdrawn and quiet. ”

Although Nasoin Akhter’s marriage is technically illegal in Bangladesh, laws against child marriage are rarely enforced. And despite what government officials promise and the fact that outside organizations consider it a human-rights violation, the practice remains popular in Bangladesh. According to a report published in June by Human Rights Watch, the country has the fourth-highest rate of child marriage in the world, with 29 percent of Bangladeshi girls married before the age of 15, and 65 percent before the age of 18.

Read more here.

August 31, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mexico Adoption-For-Cash Scheme Took Babies From Mothers

From CBS News:

A child welfare official in northern Mexico took at least nine babies from poor or drug-addicted mothers and offered them to adoptive parents in exchange for payments ranging from $5,000 to $9,000, authorities said Friday.

Raul Ramirez, the head of the government human rights commission in the border state of Sonora, said the scheme apparently went on for years and may involve many more children.

"They searched for vulnerable mothers, poor people or those who had problems of drug addiction, and took away their babies and offered them in adoption in return for money," Ramirez said.

Three of the babies have been identified and recovered, but Ramirez said "there may be many more, from years back, and some of these children could be 20 years old by now."

Read more here.

August 30, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

You Need To Tell Your Child's Teacher About Your Divorce

From LA Times:

The school year is just beginning, but grades are already in on parent-teacher communication: needs improvement.

There’s a crucial disconnect between parents and teachers, both vital players in a child's growth and development, according to the results of a new survey. VitalSmarts, a corporate training and leadership development company, surveyed 689 parents and 174 teachers from its national database of subscribers.  

The results: Teachers feel parents aren’t telling them about the major changes in the home that affect the students in their classroom. Parents feel teachers don’t share revealing details about their child’s behavior at school.  

But why would, say, an English teacher need to know that a student’s parents are divorcing?

"Teachers just sort of expect that they’re going to be told" about life-altering events in their students’ lives, said David Maxfield, vice president of research and one of the study's co-authors. "The teacher wants to get updated on that kind of information because that has such a profound impact" on the child."

Read more here.

August 29, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 28, 2015

New Study Shines Light on What Dooms Marriages

From CBS News:

A new study shines a light on how romantic relationships end.

Columbia University professor Heidi Grant Halvorson said for decades, researchers knew on average, women are more likely to initiate divorce, but data presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association shows that in very committed, non-married relationships, men and women are about just as likely to call it quits.

Halvorson said that has to do with differences between how men and women share responsibilities in the two types of relationships.

"In nutshell, there's even data that shows simply the division of chores is a major source of happiness and unhappiness in marriages and those predominantly go to women even when women work as long as men do," she said Monday on "CBS This Morning."

Sixty-nine percent of women in married relationships initiate divorce, according to the study's author Michael Rosenfeld. And according to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly half of all women in marriages perform daily housework, compared to 20 percent of men, according to the Department of Labor.

Read more here.

August 28, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How Your Spouse's Ashley Madison Account Can Impact Your Divorce

From Forbes:

Now that hackers leaked the email addresses of 37 million users of Ashley Madison, the dating service for married people in search of an affair, New York City divorce lawyer Morghan Richardson’s “phone lit up like a Christmas tree,” she says.

“People are struggling to deal with how this information may impact their divorce and their life — if at all,” says Richardson.

Here is how catching a cheating spouse can affect your split:

    1. Power. “I often hear from the wronged spouse: ‘I knew he was cheating! Now that I have proof I can get the house, the kids, the …’” says Richardson. The reality is that most states have no-fault divorce laws. That means that a judge doesn’t care why you are splitting up. Their job is to make sure that the money is split fairly and custody and visitation are in the best interest of the kids. In cases of infidelity, the “wronged” spouse is so hurt and angry, they assume that a judge will take that into consideration. They won’t.  On the other hand, it is common that the cheating spouse will feel so guilty, or won’t want the divorce, or be afraid of losing face to friends and family that they concede to their husband or wife’s demands.  Guilt is a powerful negotiating tool in divorce.

Read more here.

August 27, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Infidelity in Ottawa

From the BBC:

Earlier this month, hackers broke into Ashley Madison, a dating site for married people who want to cheat on their spouses. "Life is short. Have an affair," reads the homepage. The hackers claim to have stolen the real names and addresses of the site's users, and are threatening to release the information.

Shortly afterwards, Canada's National Post reported that Ottawa boasts 189,810 Ashley Madison accounts. The city itself has a population of 883,000.

That's the equivalent of one out of every five residents. Ashley Madison did not respond to the BBC's request for membership statistics.

The contradiction between the capital city's strait-laced reputation and Ashley Madison's numbers is staggering.

Read more here.

August 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Marital Happiness Is Not Politics

From Naomi Cahn and June Carbone, writing for Time:

Red v. blue divisions now characterize so much of American life that a new analysis even suggests that Republicans have happier marriages. Yet framing the debate about marriage as a contest distracts from the larger issues of what’s really happening to American marriages and families.

Read more here.

August 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Parenting Costs

From Forbes:

Deciding whether to be a stay-at-home parent is a personal choice, one based on many factors from career plans to personal preferences to family situations.

Finances often play a big part in that decision, so it’s important to know the numbers when considering the possibilities.

According to the Pew Research Center, more American parents are trying to make it work. Pew reviewed U.S. government data and found that, in 2012, 29 percent of American mothers — roughly 10.4 million — stayed at home with their children, up from a modern-era low of 23 percent in 1999. Pew also found that 16 percent of all stay-at-home parents were fathers in 2012, up from 10 percent in 1989.

Read more here.

August 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Biological Clock Ticking? What You Need to Know About Freezing Your Eggs

From Washington Post:

When Apple and Facebook announced last year that they would cover elective egg freezing for their female workers, the companies sparked a lot of curiosity about this procedure. The ability to put motherhood on hold by preserving your eggs for future use seemed like an alluring way to ease the babymaking pressure for couples who are meeting and marrying later in life.

But a quick search into elective egg freezing reveals confusing and often conflicting information. For starters, the women going through this process are not all workaholics looking to delay motherhood because of their taxing schedules. In fact, in one survey conducted by researchers at New York University, 88 percent of women who froze their eggs cited the lack of a partner as one of their reasons for delayed childbearing.

Motivations aside, one 2010 study found that at least 50 percent of in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics in the U.S. offered elective egg freezing. And since the label "experimental" was lifted from the procedure two years ago, that number has probably grown. That means you’re more likely now to find a place to freeze your eggs — but first you need to know the facts.

Read more here.

August 23, 2015 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Free Domestic Violence Hotline Launches in Papua New Guinea

From Reuters:

A free hotline offering counseling to victims of domestic and sexual violence in Papua New Guinea was launched on Wednesday in response to widespread violence against women and girls.

The impoverished South Pacific nation is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a women due to gender-based violence, and did not make domestic violence a criminal offense until 2013.

Two-thirds of women and girls in Papua New Guinea are victims of physical or sexual violence during their lives, according to ChildFund, the charity which launched the hotline.

"Papua New Guinea has a staggering reputation for violence against women and children, particularly young girls," ChildFund CEO Paul Brown said at the launch in the capital Port Moresby.

The phone line will operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week, providing counseling, information, guidance and referrals for care at local services, ChildFund said.

Read more here.

August 22, 2015 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Uganda Bride Price: One Woman's Battle for Equal Rights

From CNN:

Florence Musidika was a primary school teacher in an unhappy and violent marriage. In 2002 she asked her husband for a divorce. In response, as she bent over one morning to light a fire to make breakfast for her three children, a grenade planted by her husband in the charcoal exploded in her face.

Miraculously, the then 27-year-old from Mbale in eastern Uganda survived the blast, but was soon confronted by a new injustice: under customary law her marriage to her abusive husband could not be dissolved until her family had refunded the bride price he had paid by in exchange for her hand.

Musidika is just one of many women whose families knew of her suffering but, unable to return the payment -- often made in livestock -- they sent her back to her abuser, imploring her to "try and be a good wife," explains Atuki Turner, the founder of women's rights organization Mifumi.

Read more here.

August 21, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mississippi Ban on Adoptions by Same-Sex Couples is Challenged

From The New York Times:

When Mississippi adopted a one-sentence law forbidding adoptions by same-sex couples in 2000, it was not so surprising: For decades, gay men and lesbians in several states had run into roadblocks when they sought to adopt or foster children.

So it was a potent marker of how fast laws and attitudes on gay rights issues have changed on Wednesday when civil rights lawyers filed suit in federal court challenging the law.

Mississippi’s ban is now the only one of its kind in the nation. And legal experts said that in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision upholding same-sex marriage, it was highly unlikely it could hold up in court. The lawsuit was filed by the Campaign for Southern Equality, the Family Equality Council and four Mississippi same-sex couples in United States District Court.

“We’ve come so far here just recently; it’s pretty amazing the speed of the change,” said Janet Smith, a plaintiff in the case, who is seeking to adopt the 8-year-old daughter, Hannah Marie Phillips, she is raising with her wife, Donna Phillips.

Read more here.

August 20, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Will Ashley Madison Hack Cause Divorce?

From Forbes:

As financial experts weigh in on what it might mean if hackers deliver on their threats to expose the 37 million users of online cheating site, relationship and legal experts contemplate what it might mean for marriages — and the end of them.

Despite some lawyer’s predictions, New York City divorce attorney Morghan Richardson does not expect a mass-exposure of Ashley Madison members to lead to a rush of divorces, as “everyone deals with infidelity differently.” Also, she calls notions that proof of an affair means a better settlement “a notion from the 1950s,” as no-fault divorce reigns in the majority of states. With rare exception, judges simply don’t care why you and your spouse are splitting up.

Read more here.

August 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Elderly Italians Divorce Due to Law Change

From International Business Times:

The divorce rate among the elderly in Italy has dramatically increased, the Local, a European news network, reported Monday. The uptick in divorce requests for people age 65 and older is now at 20 percent, compared with 13 percent in 2010, the Italian Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says.

The increase follows passage of a law in April that reduces the divorce process in an uncontested case from three years to six months. Most elderly people who requested divorces said they were afraid that they would not see the conclusion of the legal process, the lawyers' group said, adding that reducing the mandatory separation time made it possible for them to start a new life.


“Italians are changing dramatically. I don’t believe any other country has seen the changes we have seen in the last 20 years,” Gian Ettore Gassani, president and founder of the lawyers' group, told daily Il Messaggero, the Local reported.

Read more here.


August 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kentucky Clerk Given Time For Gay Marriage Appeal by Federal Judge

From ABC News:

A federal judge on Monday gave a Kentucky county clerk room to continue denying marriage licenses to gays and lesbians while she takes her religious objections case to a higher court.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis last week to issue licenses to two gay couples, and ruled Monday that she is not entitled to any more delays. But because "emotions are running high on both sides of this debate," he also stayed his decision while she takes her case to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.

Attorneys on both sides disagreed about the implications. Dan Canon, representing the gay couples, said Davis remains under the judge's order. But Mat Staver, who represents Davis and is the founder of Florida-based Liberty Counsel, said the convoluted order essentially grants her request for more time.

What is clear is that Davis will continue refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone in this county of about 23,000 people, home to Morehead State University in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky. Until the case is resolved, no new wedding can be legally recognized in Rowan County unless the couple obtains a marriage license somewhere else.

Read more here.

August 18, 2015 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Love & Contracts

From the Washingtonian:

Charles Carroll, who would grow up to be a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in 1737 into one of Colonial Maryland’s most prosperous Roman Catholic families. Under British law, Carroll’s religion was a greater hindrance to his coming career than the fact that he was illegitimate. Waiting until Charles had proved himself a worthy heir, his parents delayed getting married until Carroll was 20 and studying in Paris.

Martha Ertman tells Carroll’s story in her book Love’s Promises: How Formal and Informal Contracts Shape All Kinds of Families as an example of how American family law has long been willing, she writes, to let “actions speak as loudly as formal agreements on paper.”

It helps, of course, if your family is a typical tribe of landed patricians. Nontraditional groups haven’t always found the law so affirming. For decades, gay and lesbian couples often sought out the safety of written agreements to secure their rights and privileges in relationships where the usual duties and privileges were not assumed.

Read more here.

August 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Is Divorce a Sin? Even in Cases of Adultery, Most Americans Say No

From International Business Times:

Breaking up is hard to do, but is it a slight against God? It turns out, a lot of people don’t think so. According to a new survey by LifeWay Research, most Americans believe divorce is not a sin if it is the result of adultery, abuse, pornography use or abandonment.

In a telephone survey of 1,000 Americans conducted last fall, 39 percent of respondents said divorce is a sin when an individual’s spouse commits adultery; 38 percent when the couple no longer loves one another; 38 percent when a spouse abandons the other; 37 percent when a spouse is abused and 35 percent when a spouse is addicted to pornography.

Another 37 percent of Americans said that none of the reasons listed above warranted the “sin label” in cases of divorce.

Read more here.

August 16, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Studies Show Parenthood is Worse Than Divorce, Unemployment - Even the Death of a Partner

From The Washington Post:

Life has its ups and downs, but parenthood is supposed to be among the most joyous. At least that's what the movies and Target ads tell us.

In reality, it turns out that having a child can have a pretty strong negative impact on a person's happiness, according to a new study published in the journal Demography. In fact, on average, the effect of a new baby on a person's life in the first year is devastatingly bad — worse than divorce, worse than unemployment and worse even than the death of a partner.

Researchers Rachel Margolis and Mikko Myrskylä followed 2,016 Germans who were childless at the time the study began until at least two years after the birth of their first child. Respondents were asked to rate their happiness from 0 (completely dissatisfied) to 10 (completely satisfied) in response to the question, "How satisfied are you with your life, all things considered?"

"Although this measure does not capture respondents' overall experience of having a child, it is preferable to direct questions about childbearing because it is considered taboo for new parents to say negative things about a new child," they wrote.

The study's goal was to try to gain insights into a longstanding contradiction in fertility in many developed countries between how many children people say they want and how many they actually have. In Germany, most couples say in surveys that they want two children. Yet the birthrate in the country has remained stubbornly low — 1.5 children per woman — for 40 years.

Read more here.


August 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Marrying Robots

From Slate:

The Supreme Court’s recent 5–4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage across the United States has already spawned speculation about “what will be next” in expanding marital rights. As the Supreme Court noted, “[t]he history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. That institution … has evolved over time.” Interracial marriage, equality between husband and wife, and same-sex marriage were all excluded for long periods of time under our Constitution but now have been sanctioned and protected by the courts. While these changes have come slowly, and courts are unlikely to take the next step in expanding marital rights for some time, the courts are probably not finished expanding the legal definition of marital rights.

A New York Times op-ed published shortly after the Supreme Court’s same-sex decision said that the court’s logic could eventually lead to recognition of polygamy or plural marriages, an argument also made by Chief Justice John Roberts in his dissenting opinion. This slippery-slope argument has also been used to contend that the court’s decision will open the door to legal recognition of bestiality or incest.

Robot-human marriages might be next on the list. Probably not soon, admittedly, but it nevertheless will be an inevitable part of our future.Indeed, some critics of same-sex marriage, including some conservative Christian opponents of gay marriage, have argued that the court’s recognition of same-sex marriage would inevitably lead to robotic-human marriages. There has recently been a burst of cogent accounts of human-robot sex and love in popular culture: Her and Ex Machina, the AMC drama series Humans, and the novel Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. These fictional accounts of human-robot romantic relationships follow David Levy’s compelling, even if reluctant, argument for the inevitability of human-robot love and sex in his 2007 work Love and Sex With Robots. If you don’t think human-robot sex and love will be a growing reality of the future, read Levy’s book, and you will be convinced.

Read more here.


August 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)