Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, February 19, 2018

Couples Delaying Marriage

From Fox News:

Newly-engaged couples are increasingly delaying their nuptials because of financial reasons, according to new research.

The study of 5,000 married US adults revealed that couples are increasingly delaying their wedding plans due to the rising costs of getting hitched.

The new survey displayed how marriage proposals have evolved over the past decade, including a surge in the number of couples who now say getting married caused a significant financial burden.

Read more here.

February 19, 2018 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Loco Parentis in PA

From the Legal Intelligencer:

In what is becoming one of the hottest topics in Pennsylvania Child Custody Law, in loco parentis took center stage before the Superior Court in the recent case of MJS v. BB v. BB, ___ A.3d ___, 2017 Pa. Super 327 (Oct. 17). This case is one of three cases to address in loco parentis status by a litigant in a child custody case recently. The recent case of KW v. SL andML v. GG, addressed in loco parentis status and parties with whom a child was placed for adoption. A week prior to the present case being decided, the superior court also addressed in loco parentis status in the case of CG v. JH, which pertained to a same sex couple. Both cases were reported on by this author in April 2017 and December 2017, respectively.

The case of MJS pertains to a grandmother who intervened in a child custody case, was found to have in loco parentis status, and granted primary physical custody of the child in question. The facts of the MJS case, according to the opinion, in part, are as follows: LMS was born in 2010 to BMB (the mother) and MJS (the father). During the first five years of LMS’ life, “he lived with the mother at grandmother’s home …” The father, who lives approximately one hour away from the grandmother, exercised partial physical custody of the child on alternating weekends pursuant to an informal custody arrangement.

Read more here.

February 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Surrogacy Contracts Enforceable in Iowa

From Omaha World-Herald:

DES MOINES (AP) — The birth mother of an 18-month-old girl who agreed to be paid as a surrogate to have the baby, is not legally the child’s parent, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday in an emotional case that concluded surrogacy contracts can be enforced in Iowa.

The ruling means the girl remains with the Cedar Rapids couple, the only parents she has known since leaving the hospital after birth.

It was the first time the state’s highest court has weighed whether surrogacy contracts can be enforced.

Read more here. 


February 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Lawyers & Abortion Discussion

From the Washington Post:

A major legal services group for immigrant children told its lawyers nationwide not to discuss abortion access, even if minors in custody ask for help understanding their legal rights, for fear it would jeopardize a multimillion-dollar contract with the Department of Health and Human Services.

The constraints on what government-funded lawyers can say to young detainees was contained in an email from the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice, which said it acted after a phone call with an HHS employee. Vera’s instruction to lawyers comes as the Trump administration has tried in court to block access to abortion procedures for undocumented teens in federal custody.

“We know for a fact that there is a very real risk to the entire legal services program for children in [Office of Refugee Resettlement] custody if issues other than immigration are addressed in consultations or representation, the abortion issue in particular,” a Vera official cautioned in a Feb. 2 email obtained by The Washington Post.

Read more here.

February 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Conferences

News from the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning:

First, we're hosting a one-day conference on April 28, at Texas A&M Law targeting adjunct professors and new law professors, but the content may be a nice refresher for anyone.  You can find the conference announcement / information here:

Second, our summer conference will be at Gonzaga Law, June 18-20 and will focus on the use of technology in the classroom.  We're currently accepting proposals for that conference (and the deadline has been extended to March 2).  More info here:

February 17, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Higher Fees for Americans Adopting Foreign Children

From The Santa Fe New Mexican:

NEW YORK — The U.S. government has raised fees and made a series of regulatory changes recently for American families adopting children overseas, fueling resentment toward the State Department among agencies who fear further reductions in the already dwindling number of foreign adoptions.

The number of foreign children adopted by U.S. parents has plummeted steadily since a peak of 22,884 in 2004. The total for the 2016 fiscal year was 5,372, a decrease of more than 76 percent.

The National Council for Adoption, which represents scores of adoption agencies, is leading a campaign against the new fees. They were announced Feb. 1 as part of broader changes in how the agencies offering international adoptions undergo a required accreditation process.

Read more here. 

February 17, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Law Makes Divorce More Miserable

From Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump’s tax law could make divorce an even more miserable experience, according to a new survey of the nation’s top matrimonial attorneys.

Almost two thirds of respondents said they expect divorce negotiations to become more acrimonious following a change to the tax treatment of alimony, a poll by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers showed. The new law includes a controversial provision that scraps the tax break divorcees get for paying alimony -- starting for divorces finalized next year.

Read more here.

February 17, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Foster Care Payments Now Available to Relatives in Kentucky

From The Courier-Journal:

In a move that will help relatives providing foster care for hundreds of Kentucky children, state officials announced Tuesday they will begin making payments to those relatives under a federal court ruling that became final almost four months ago.

That means relatives and some others, such as close family friends, who agree to care for children removed from homes because of abuse or neglect will receive payments of about $750 a month — the same amount paid to licensed foster families.

"This is fantastic news," said Lexington lawyer Richard Dawahare, who won the court case requiring such payments on behalf of a great aunt who took in two young boys. "We are so appreciative that the state is finally starting to make this happen."

Read more here.

February 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Protecting Family Law Attorneys in WI

From the Wausau Daily Herald:

Family law attorneys like mass-shooting victim Sara Quirt Sann would have more protections under a Wisconsin bill being pushed by local advocates.

Quirt Sann was killed in a shooting rampage March 22 when Nengmy Vang, 45, stormed into her office at the Tlusty, Kennedy and Dirks law firm in Schofield and opened fire. Quirt Sann was representing Vang's wife in a divorce case. Vang also fatally shot three others before officers shot and killed him: Everest Metro Police Det. Jason Weiland and Marathon Savings Bank employees Dianne Look and Karen Barclay.

The proposed bill, dubbed Sara's Law, would make it a Class H felony in Wisconsin to harm or threaten to harm an attorney, corporation counsel or guardian ad litem in response to action taken during a proceeding or other action that affects the family. The measure would also apply to their family members. Judges, district attorneys, law enforcement officers and court officers already have such protections.

Read more here.

February 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Parental Leave

From the Nation:

It’s been a quarter of a century since America’s families got their first legal job protections covering time off to care for family medical needs and childbirth. But the kids born under those policies are all grown-up now, and their generation is demanding much more to deal with the caregiving needs of the millennial economy.

Since the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)—which provides workers up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave—was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993, it’s become painfully clear that today’s workforce can’t sustain family needs without more comprehensive benefits. Facing a sink-or-swim economy rife with swelling health-care costs, workers need more than time at home to bond with a newborn, cope with a medical crisis, or recover from pregnancy; they need a steady income.

Working parents are therefore now waiting for the United States to join other modern countries and offer comprehensive paid family leave. States like California already provide workers with partial wage compensation through a dedicated payroll-based tax system for family leave, and even pro-business “family values” conservatives now promote some form of national subsidized paid-leave program—with the backing of the White House’s own Ivanka Trump.

Read more here.

February 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Termination of Rapists' Parental Rights Now Possible in Maryland

From The Washington Post:

Women who become pregnant in Maryland as a result of sexual assault can now sue to terminate the parental rights of their attackers, under a law approved this month in the legislature after nine failed attempts.

“This is an important day for the state of Maryland,” said Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who signed the emergency bill Tuesday surrounded by a host of advocates and female lawmakers and with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) by his side. “I know it’s a long time coming.”

Only five other states had no laws on the books regarding parental rights and sexual assault, said Lisae C. Jordan, executive director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Read more here. 

February 15, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Push for Marriage Equality in Northern Ireland

From The Guardian:

Theresa May’s government should consider imposing social changes on Northern Ireland, such as gay marriage, in the absence of a deal to restore power-sharing at Stormont, Labour has said.

The shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Smith, said it was up to London to introduce legislation in such areas following the collapse of negotiations.

Read more here.

February 15, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Family First

From The Intercept:

TUCKED QUIETLY INTO the most recent congressional measure to keep the government open was the most sweeping and ambitious piece of child welfare legislation passed in at least a decade. It’s an attempt to reshape the entrenched foster care system as a raging opioid epidemic swells the population of children in need.

The measure overcame the opposition of group homes, which pocket thousands of dollars per month for each child warehoused in their custody. The Family First Prevention Services Act upends the funding structure for the child welfare system by allowing states to use federal matching funds for programs addressing mental health, substance abuse, family counseling, and parent skills training — to keep at-risk children from entering the foster care system in the first place. It’s meant to help families stay together.

Most new programs are funded by specific amounts of money, which makes them vulnerable to cuts or expiration in the future, but the new law amends the Social Security Act to open up funding for families at risk of entering the foster care system. That means major funding will be available in states willing to take advantage of the new federal money.

Read more here. 

February 14, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy Valentine's Day

February 14, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Call for Child Support System Reform

From Central Queensland News:

WITH more than 800 Gladstone parents struggling to meet their financial obligations for their kids, experts are pressuring the Turnbull Government to overhaul the much-maligned child support system.

Exclusive data obtained by NewsRegional shows 2642 Gladstone residents should be paying child support but 30% - or 803 - are behind in their payments. 

Most of the debtors are men, with 683 Gladstone fathers owing money.

There are 97 women with a child support debt and 23 residents of "unknown gender" who also owe money.

The Department of Human Services could not tell NewsRegional how much money is owed locally, but it confirmed that nationwide, fathers owed their children almost $1.5 billion and mothers owed $56.3 million.

Read more here. 

February 13, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Bermuda Bans Same-Sex Marriage

From The New York Times:

Bermuda has forbidden same-sex marriage, only nine months after legalizing it, in what advocates for gay and lesbian rights called a disappointing setback.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Bermuda, a British overseas territory, in May as a result of a ruling by the island’s Supreme Court.

But the unions are unpopular with some voters.

Read more here. 

February 12, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sperm Donor Denied Parental Rights

From USA Today:

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — A married same-sex Chemung County couple can rebuff an effort by a sperm donor to exert parental rights on the daughter born as a result of the arrangement.

A midlevel New York appeals court ruled in favor of the couple, suspending a decision by the Chemung County Family Court that originally ordered a paternity test to determine the donor's parental rights.

In a 19-page decision released Thursday, the New York Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, said the lesbian couple has the same parental rights as a traditional couple in a sperm donor arrangement. The mother and wife are the presumed natural parents, the court ruled, and the donor has no specific legal right to be a part of the rearing of the child no matter how the child was conceived.

Read more here.

February 11, 2018 in Custody (parenting plans), Termination of Parental Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Indonesia May Criminalize Sex Before Marriage

From Time:

Riding a tsunami of moral conservatism and anti-gay prejudice, Indonesia’s Islamic political parties appear on the cusp of a major victory: outlawing all sex outside marriage.

Revisions to Indonesia’s criminal code being considered by Parliament would allow prison sentences of up to five years for sex between unmarried people. Those changes would also criminalize gay sex, the bugbear of Indonesia’s Islamic and secular political parties.

Rights groups and legal experts fear a profound setback to human rights and privacy in Indonesia, one of the world’s largest democracies, and the spread of vigilantism, already common in parts of the sprawling Muslim-majority nation of more than 250 million people. They are racing to organize opposition. An online petition launched this week has gathered more than 20,000 signatures.

Read more here.

February 10, 2018 in Cohabitation (live-ins), International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Mississippi Pushes Abortion Ban to 15 Weeks

From NBC News:

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi lawmakers pushed ahead Friday with a bill to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which would be the earliest ban nationwide and create a possible court challenge.

Mississippi already bans most abortions after 20 weeks. It's tied with North Carolina for the nation's earliest ban.

Members of the Republican-controlled House on Friday passed House Bill 1510 by a vote of 79-31, with Republicans and some Democrats supporting it. The measure would allow exceptions if a woman's life is endangered or a fetus has a severe abnormality. The bill goes to the state Senate for more debate.

Read more here.


February 9, 2018 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Why New Tax Law May Spur More Divorces

From Politico:

Republicans may pride themselves on upholding family values, but their new tax law could soon lead to a surge in married couples calling it quits.

Lawyers are counseling couples considering divorce to do it this year — before a 76-year-old deduction for alimony payments is wiped out in 2019 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

“Now’s not the time to wait,” said Mary Vidas, a lawyer in Philadelphia and former chair of the American Bar Association’s section on family law. “If you’re going to get a divorce, get it now.”

Read more here.

February 8, 2018 in Divorce (grounds), Maintenance (alimony) | Permalink | Comments (0)