Family Law Prof Blog

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

Taiwan High Court Rules for Same-Sex Marriage

From NPR:

Taiwanese laws that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying violate their personal freedom and equal protection, the island's Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday. The justices called sexual orientation an "immutable characteristic that is resistant to change."

"The judges have today said yes to marriage equality," said Amnesty International's Lisa Tassi, who directs campaigns in East Asia. "This is a huge step forward for LGBTI rights in Taiwan and will resonate across Asia."

Taiwan's president has asked the Ministry of Justice to come up with a legal framework for complying with the decision.

The court's ruling gives Taiwan's government two years to change its marriage laws. If that deadline passes without legislative action, same-sex couples will be allowed to register for marriage and obtain "the status of a legally recognized couple."

Read more here.

June 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Health & Marriage

From The New York Times:

In a nation as divided and contentious as our own, it is rare to find a belief we all share. But trust in the transformative power of marriage is close to universal — and it has endured for decades. This isn’t just a matter of faith, we’ve been assured. It’s science. Research is said to have established what our fairy tales promised: Marry and you will live happily ever after. And you will be healthier, too.

A new study challenges the claim that people who marry get healthier. In “The Ambiguous Link Between Marriage and Health,” recently published online in the journal Social Forces, the sociologist Matthijs Kalmijn reported findings from the Swiss Household Panel, a 16-year survey of a nationally representative sample of more than 11,000 Swiss adults. Every year, participants were asked one set of questions about their overall health and another about their illnesses.

If marriage makes people healthier, then people who marry should report better overall health and less illness than when they were single. If the purported benefits of marriage are cumulative, then people should get even healthier over the course of their marriages.

Read more here.

June 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mexico and Utah Sign Child Custody Agreement

From Deseret News Utah:

SALT LAKE CITY — The consulate of Mexico in Salt Lake City signed an agreement Monday with the Utah Department of Human Services, updating the consulate's extensive role in assisting parental custody cases for minors with Mexican citizenship.

Javier Chagoya, the consul of Mexico in Salt Lake, was joined for a signing ceremony by Ann Williamson, executive director of the Department of Human Services, and Tonya Myrup, acting director of the Division of Child and Family Services. Their signatures were met with applause by custody case workers and others in attendance.

Williamson lauded the agreement as an important step "to advance our shared commitment to children and families thriving safely in their homes, schools and communities." She said the consulate of Mexico fills an integral role in assuring that Mexican children involved in custody cases in Utah are provided with as many potential positive solutions as would be arranged for any other child in the state.

Read more here.

May 31, 2017 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Divorce & Shared Parenting

From Stat News:

As a young psychology intern in the late 1970s, my first patients were boys from divorced homes, suffering from what was then called “father hunger.” In those days, when parents split up, dads fell by the wayside. Fathers saw their children at the mothers’ discretion. This customary fallout from divorce reflected the belief that mothers are supremely important while fathers are expendable. We’ve come a long way since then.

Observing the problems that were being attributed to divorce, my colleagues and I began conducting studies in the late 1970s to learn how to help children cope better when their parents parted ways. The results of our research in Texas, supported by the National Institute for Mental Health, converged with studies in California, Virginia, and Arizona. The message from this work was clear: children and their fathers usually (though not always) wanted and needed more time together than they were getting. All signs pointed to the benefits for most families of having two parents involved in children’s lives who jointly maintained responsibility for their care. This is what is now called shared parenting.

Read more here.

May 30, 2017 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Christian Schools & Teen Pregnancy

From the New York Times:

Ms. Runkles’s story sheds light on a delicate issue: how Christian schools, which advocate abstinence until marriage, treat pregnant teenagers.

“You have these two competing values,” said Brad Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia who directs the National Marriage Project, which conducts research on marriage and families. “On the one hand, the school is seeking to maintain some kind of commitment to what has classically been called chastity — or today might be called abstinence. At the same time, there’s an expectation in many Christian circles that we are doing all that we can to honor life.”

Navigating that balance is exceedingly difficult for Christian educators, and schools respond in various ways, said Rick Kempton, chairman of the board of the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents about 3,000 schools in the United States and many others overseas.

“There’s a biblical term that many Christian schools use, and it is the whole idea of grace: What would Jesus do?” Mr. Kempton said. Of Ms. Runkles, he added: “She’s making the right choice. But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option.’”

Some schools, he said, might insist pregnant students finish the school year at home. That was one option considered for Ms. Runkles. She took a two-day suspension as the Heritage board — led at the time by her father, Scott — wrestled with her fate.

Mr. Runkles, a bank vice president, recused himself from decisions involving his daughter, but ultimately he quit the board in anger over how she was treated.

“Typically, when somebody breaks a rule, you punish them at the time they break the rule. That way, the punishment is behind them and they’re moving forward with a clean slate,” he said. “With Maddi, her punishment was set four months out. It’s ruined her senior year.”

In 2009, the National Association of Evangelicals, drawing on figures from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, reported that 80 percent of young evangelicals engaged in premarital sex. A spokeswoman for the evangelical group said its own research, however, suggested that the figure was much lower.

Read more here.

May 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Support for Gay Marriage at All Time High in U.S.

From Gallup:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say same-sex marriages should be recognized by the law as valid. Although not meaningfully different from the 61% last year, this is the highest percentage to date and continues the generally steady rise since Gallup's trend began in 1996.

The latest update, from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll conducted May 3-7, comes nearly two years after the Supreme Court ruled that states could not prohibit same-sex marriage.

Since then, debates about same-sex marriage have faded somewhat from public discourse as LGBT rights advocates have focused on other issues, such as transgender bathroom access. But despite the 2015 ruling from the nation's highest court, legal and legislative attempts to protect or challenge same-sex marriage rights continue to bubble up in some states.

Read more here.

May 28, 2017 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Facebook's Manual on Child Abuse

From The Guardian:

At first, Facebook’s policies seem clear enough. Most start with a clear explanation of what it does and doesn’t tolerate. But often there are caveats. The Guardian has been told some moderators struggle to understand distinctions – and some feel overwhelmed by the task. Updates reflect shifting attitudes and political pressure but can further complicate the job.

Facebook’s policies on graphic violence, non-sexual child abuse and animal abuse reveal its attempts to remain open while trying to ban horrific images. Moderators remove content ‘upon report only’, meaning graphic content could be seen by millions before it is flagged. Facebook says publishing certain images can help children to be rescued. The Guardian is publishing a small selection of slides from the moderation manuals. Some use language we would not usually publish, but to understand Facebook’s content policies, we have decided to include it. See for yourself how Facebook polices what users post.

Read more here.

May 27, 2017 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Texas House Votes to Ban Abortion Procedure

From The New York Times:

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas’ Republican-controlled Legislature has advanced tough new limits on abortion, hitting back at a United States Supreme Court decision last summer that struck down most of the sweeping restrictions on the procedure that the state approved four years ago.

The Texas House voted 96 to 47 late Friday on legislation that bans a commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure, known as dilation and evacuation, similar to laws that courts have blocked in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. It further stipulated that doctors performing the procedure in Texas would face felony charges.

Those contentious provisions were tacked onto a broader bill requiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains from abortions, even though a federal judge has blocked an existing state rule that mandates the same thing.

Read more here.

May 26, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Reunification Programs

From the Washington Post:

Laura, David and their siblings are among a growing number of children in high-conflict divorce cases being sent — often unwillingly — to nascent and unproven “reunification” programs, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. These workshops have sprung up in the past decade mostly to address parental alienation, a disputed disorder coined in 1985 by psychiatrist Richard Gardner that refers to a situation where a child chooses not to have a relationship with one parent because of the influence of the other parent. Opponents charge that the reunification programs, and accusations of parental alienation itself, are shams — a way for lawyers, psychologists and social workers to profit from parents in bitter custody battles, and for the more financially secure parent to gain a custodial advantage. Proponents say that parental alienation involves truly harmful psychological behaviors that should be recognized by the therapeutic community and tort law, and that reunification programs are sometimes the only way to put families back together.

...

“There is just no empirical scientific evidence or way to determine if children are estranged because they were maltreated or if a favored parent turned them against the other parent,” said Joan Meier, a clinical professor at George Washington University Law School and founder of the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project, which provides appellate representation in domestic violence cases.

Read more here.

May 25, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

More Details on Gray Divorces

From Naomi Cahn (George Washington University Law School) & June Carbone (University of Minnesota Law School), writing for the Institute for Family Studies:

As we found when looking through a range of studies, divorce risk is not evenly spread among those aged 50 and older. Depending on your demographic, you may or may not be comforted by these trends.

First, some good news for everyone: the divorce rate is still not all that high for those over the age of 50. Yes, it has doubled over the past 30 years: in 1990, five out of every 1,000 married people divorced, and in 2010, it was 10 out of every 1,000 married people. And yes, the rate has risen much more dramatically for gray Americans than for those under 50; in fact, there was a decline in the rate for those between the ages of 25-39. But the divorce rate for those over 50 is still half the rate for those under 50.


Source: Susan L. Brown, et al., "Age Variation in the Divorce Rate, 1990-2010," Family Profiles, NCFMR, FP-12-05.

 

Second, the triggering events for gray divorce are not what one might assume.

Read more here.

May 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Open Marriages

Are open marriages happier ones?  The New York Times looks into the question here.

May 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Oral Arguments Today in 7th Circuit

From Indiana Lawyer:

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments in Indiana’s birth certificate dispute for next month.

A three-judge panel will hear the case, Ashlee Henderson et al. v. Jerome M. Adams, 17-1141, at 9:30 a.m. May 22. No more than 20 minutes will be allotted for each side.

Eight married female same-sex couples filed a complaint over Indiana’s parentage law after the state did not list non-birth mothers as a parent on their children’s birth certificates. The women assert Indiana is violating their Equal Protection and Due Process rights.

Read more here.

May 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Child Webcam Sex Bust Reveals Widespread Issue

From the Detroit News:

Mabalacat, Philippines — The suspected pedophile could see people banging on his front door through his security cameras. Were they neighbors? Cops?

One had letters on her jacket. As David Timothy Deakin googled “What is NBI?” from the laptop on his bed, the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation smashed their way into his cybersex den.

Children’s underwear, toddler shoes, cameras, bondage cuffs, fetish ropes, meth pipes and stacks of hard drives and photo albums cluttered the stuffy, two-bedroom townhouse. Penciled on the wall, someone had scrawled “My Mom and Dad love me” and a broken heart. In his computer were videos and images of young boys and girls engaged in sex acts.

“Why is everyone asking about children coming into my house?” said Deakin, 53, his wrists bound with a zip tie.

Deakin’s arrest on April 20 reveals one of the darkest corners of the internet, where pedophiles in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia pay facilitators on the other side of the world to sexually abuse children, even babies, directing their moves through online livestreaming services.

Read more here.

 

May 21, 2017 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Rights in Same Sex Divorce

From USA Today:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In the first ruling of its kind in Tennessee, a judge has granted a woman the legal rights of a husband.

The ruling, issued last week and made public Monday, came as the state Legislature was pushing through a bill designed to stop Judge Greg McMillan of Fourth Circuit Court — and any other judge in Tennessee — from making that very decision, court records show.

In a reversal from his decision last year, McMillan penned approval of a divorce for same-sex couple Sabrina Witt and Erica Witt that includes designation of Erica Witt as the father of the couple's daughter, conceived through artificial insemination.

Read more here.

May 20, 2017 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Utah Lawmaker Wants to Raise Marriage Age to 16

From the Daily Herald:

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker says that even though only a handful of 15-year-olds marry in Utah each year, they’re children who aren’t ready and he wants to raise the minimum age to 16.

“This is kind of from a bygone era, from 50 years ago,” Rep. Adam Gardiner said Thursday. “Shotgun weddings are not that common anymore. I would define a 15-year-old marriage in this day and age as a child bride. I don’t think that would ever be appropriate.”

Utah currently allows those age 16 or 17 to marry if they have a parent or guardian’s consent, and 15-year-olds can marry with permission from a parent or guardian and a juvenile court judge.

Read more here.

May 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

TN Governor Signs Strict Late-Term Abortion Ban

From The Tennessean:

Gov. Bill Haslam signed a strict new abortion measure into law on Friday, drawing praise and sharp criticism. 

The measure will further limit the few abortions already performed in Tennessee past the point of fetal viability — and potentially send doctors to jail if they fail to prove in court that an abortion of a viable fetus was necessary to save a woman's life or prevent substantial or irreversible harm to a "major bodily function of a pregnant woman." 

Tennessee becomes one of at least 21 states that explicitly ban abortions beyond viability, but the measure, called the Tennessee Infants Protection Act, goes further than most other bans and could become the subject of a lengthy court challenge.

Read more here.

May 18, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Muslim Academic Claims Sharia Law Good for Feminism

From Yahoo7 News:

Prominent Muslim academic Dr Susan Carland has explained how Sharia law can be an effective method of promoting women’s rights and there is no justification under the Islamic doctrine for punishing victims of rape.

Dr Carland, who's married to TV personality Waleed Aly, told an inner Sydney audience, including feminist Eva Cox, that Sharia law could be used to persuade Muslim men that it was wrong for women who are victims of rape to be stoned or lashed for adultery.

Under Sharia law, a woman’s word is considered worthless without male witnesses to corroborate her story.

Read more here.

May 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New Orleans City Council Demands Action After Juvenile Inmate Commits Suicide

From WDSU News:

After the apparent suicide of teenager Jaquin Thomas inside the Orleans Justice Center last year, the New Orleans City Council’s Criminal Justice Committee demanded action and change, chairperson Susan Guidry said at Thursday’s meeting.

Thomas was found hanging in his cell on Oct. 17 after spending 54 days in the jail. He was 15 at the time and had been assaulted by adult inmates, after being arrested on a murder charge and immediately transferred from the Youth Study Center to OJC.

Guidry said Thomas could have been left in the adult facility for 120 days without ever being charged by the district attorney under the law at the time of his death. She said clarifications of youth detention and transfer laws that went into effect after Thomas’ death have led to fewer automatic transfers of youth to adult facilities.

Read more here.

May 16, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Texas Adoption Legislation Targets Religious Beliefs and Lifestyle Choices

From Newsweek:

The Texas House of Representatives has passed a bill that allows adoption agencies and foster care providers to reject applicants based on their religious beliefs and lifestyle choices.

The bill will let state-funded and private organizations make decisions about prospective parents based on their religious beliefs, meaning that couples who are gay, Jewish, Muslim or interfaith could be rejected when seeking to take care of a child. The bill could also affect people who have been divorced and remarried, or those who are single. Additionally, the bill provides a legal cover for agencies that use “religious freedom” as the basis for making their decision.

While five other states have passed similar laws, Texas’s is one of the few that extends to state-funded agencies. 

Read more here.

May 15, 2017 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Arranged Marriages

From the Washington Post:

When non-Indians ask me if I had an arranged marriage, I sometimes slyly reply: “in a sense.” I’m an Indian American born and raised in the United States, married to someone who grew up in India. But it was our mutual friend, a white woman from Oregon — not our families — who played matchmaker. When I explain this to them, I know it is not the answer they expected. It does not fit their perception of arranged marriage. Neither of my two siblings had arranged marriages, nor even did my Indian-born parents. For me, arranged marriage is both familiar and foreign.

“A Suitable Girl,” a new documentary film, which premiered at last week’s Tribeca Film Festival, follows Amrita, Ritu and Dipti, three young, middle-class women in India, as they approach their respective arranged marriages. The film’s directors, Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra, who are both Indian American women and won the festival’s award for new documentary director, are trying to overturn stereotypes about arranged marriage. “One of the things that we’ve been ‘battling’ has been the old-school and biased notion that all arranged marriage in India is somehow forced or associated with child brides,” Khurana said. She also noted that arranged marriages might not be built on romance, but that doesn’t mean these couples lack feelings for each other. “The reality is more fluid,” Khurana said. However, women often do get a raw end of the deal; whether or not a marriage is arranged, women “are the ones to compromise the most, expected to ‘adjust,’ move cities, give up or negotiate their careers, leave their families,” Khurana explained.

Read more here.

May 14, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)