Family Law Prof Blog

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

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Divorce for Same-Sex Couples

From The Tampa Tribune:

A year after being denied by a judge, a lesbian couple in Tampa will be allowed to divorce, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled Friday.

Although Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the appellate court to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on same-sex marriage, the court instead issued a terse opinion reversing an order by a Hillsborough Circuit judge who refused to grant a divorce to Keiba Lynn Shaw and Mariama Changamire Shaw.

“For the reasons expressed in this court’s recent opinion in Brandon-Thomas v. Brandon-Thomas ... we reverse and remand for further proceedings,” the order stated.

The Shaws, who were married in Massachusetts, agreed to their divorce and settled all issues through a process known as collaborative divorce, asking the courts only to issue a legal declaration dissolving their marriage.

Read more here.

June 11, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Moroccan Orphanages

From PBS NewsHour:

Orphanages in Morocco face a unique challenge in trying to find permanent homes for children in their care. A recent law has made it nearly impossible for many would-be parents, especially under the Islamist government.

Moroccan society doesn’t accept unwed mothers, so many prefer to get rid of the child at birth. For the children we find who are older than age 2, we believe their mothers tried to keep their babies with them, but because they are rejected by their families and are unable to find a job, they decided to abandon the child.

The long-term goal of this orphanage is to find these children permanent homes. But that’s not so simple here in Morocco. Morocco, as a Muslim country, doesn’t permit traditional adoption. Instead, there is an alternative system called kafala, translated as custody or guardianship, that can last until the child turns 18. Kafala is just the caretaking of a child by adoptive parents. In adoption, they become like a biological child. That’s to say an actual child of the family, with rights of name, and rights of inheritance, everything. Why does Islam forbid adoption? To avoid the mixing of genes, for example, a brother marrying his sister without knowing it. A key requirement of kafala is that children’s original identity be maintained, including their religion.

Read more here.

June 10, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Rape Survivor Child Custody Act


A new federal law, the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, will protect women who are victims of rape and decide to keep their baby. Shauna Prewitt, an attorney who co-founded Hope After Rape Conception, first spearheaded the idea along with rape survivor Analyn Megison.

Rebecca Kiessling, who has been working to protect mothers across the country who decide against having an abortion after they were victimized, has helped pushed the legislation on a state level. Kiessling tells LifeNews that the new law “provides an incentive to states to pass legislation providing for a means to terminate the parental rights of rapists, using the “clear and convincing evidence” standard from the U.S Supreme Court case of Santosky v Kramer.”

Read more here.

June 9, 2015 in Abortion, Custody (parenting plans), Termination of Parental Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Modern Man

From the Wall Street Journal blog:

By more than two to one, men say that it is harder to be a man today compared with their father’s generation–and a number of the reasons focused on changes in their relationships with women.

This is just one of the insights from a recent Hart Research Associates poll for the Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight Into the 21st Century Man. The online survey was conducted among 818 men 18 and older.

Eighty-five percent of men say they are clear in their role in society today, but 45% say it is harder to be a man today compared to their father’s generation, while just 20% say it is easier to be a man today (35% say it is no easier or harder). For those who say it is harder to be a man, a number of the most common reasons stem from changes in relationships with women, including that women are in a stronger position in the workplace and financially; men are taking on a greater share of household responsibilities; and more demands are being placed on men.

While the old mold in male-female relationships has been broken, it’s clear that the new shape has yet to set. Sixty-three percent of men say they are very comfortable living with or being married to a woman who works outside the home, and 51% are very comfortable with a female partner earning more money than they do. But 56% of men agree, generally speaking, that men are more concerned about making good impressions and earning the respect of other men than earning the respect of women.  And while a majority are very comfortable with their female partner working outside the home, just 24% of men said they would be very comfortable being a stay-at-home dad and not working outside the home.

Read more here.

June 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Wedding Drug Busts

From the Atlantic:

“We had a serious drug problem in the county at that time,” recalls former Shiawassee County Sheriff A.J. LaJoye, known as “Big Jim.” The trouble had started in 1986, when General Motors announced it would close seven plants in the area, starting a depression.Thousands of workers were laid off, and families began to flee the area in search of jobs. In 1987, Money magazine had named Flint the worst place to live in America. Now, dealers were at large, peddling cocaine, marijuana, LSD, and prescription pills.

After months of undercover work, Williams and Moon had information on more than 40 suspects, but the department realized it didn’t have the funds or the manpower to round them all up. So it had to come up with clever ideas. “Cops used to offer parolees free tickets to the Detroit Lions, then arrest them,” recalls Peggy Lawrence, a Flint historian. On one occasion, Moon quietly arrested and locked up stolen property dealer, announced his death in the newspaper, and arrested gang members who showed up at his fake funeral. “Sometimes you gotta do things that are simply funny,” Moon later told a television reporter. “People gotta go to jail, but it don’t always have to be sad.” In 1990, the department planned a particularly elaborate operation: Officers would throw a fake wedding, invite all the suspects, and arrest them.

The sting would become a police legend. Former high-ranking DEA agent Michael Levine, who teaches investigative narcotics procedures around the world, says, “[The detectives] got it on video ... I use that video in training undercover agents today.” Over the years, other agents have pulled off similar stings—like the one in 2009 where two FBI agents, posing as mobsters, staged a wedding onboard a yacht and trapped an Asian counterfeiting gang, scoring over $100 million in cash.

Read more here.

June 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 6, 2015


From abc:

Although research shows the imbalance in household chores for married couples is decreasing, gaps are reappearing when couples have children – even when women are spending the same number of hours at work in the office as their husbands. Four papers in a new online symposium from the Council on Contemporary Families reveal a complicated tangle of workplace policy, gender roles and THE GENERAL LAZINESS OF MEN (Just kidding. Sort of.) that contributes to the inequality.

The Council on Contemporary Families, which researches the whys and hows of modern families, updated common perceptions of household work in dual-income couples with this latest symposium.

Read more here.

June 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Family Law in Vietnam

From Pacific Daily News:

Laws concerning the family aren't established in a vacuum. That is, family laws reflect and incorporate the unique history, culture and religious beliefs of each country, and frequently that of smaller subdivisions of the country, such as states or territories. For those of us living in a particular place, we take these influences for granted and have a difficult time detecting and identifying them within our laws. We are blind to the obvious.

This isn't the case for new arrivals. They are much more sensitive to the interplay these influences have on our family laws. This is especially true where our laws may conflict with those of their state or country of origin.

As an example, a recent immigrant from the Philippines might be startled to learn that under Guam family law, divorce is fairly common and relatively inexpensive and easy to process. This stands in stark contrast to Philippine law, which severely restricts the ability of Filipinos to end a marriage. Divorces are forbidden. An annulment is possible, but for social and financial reasons, infrequently pursued.

Read more here.

June 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Australian Adoptions at Lowest Levels

From the Canberra Times:

According to statistics released late last year, Australian adoptions are currently at their lowest level since records began at the end of the 1960s. At its peak in the early 70s, there were almost 10,000 adoptions a year. In 2013-14 just 317 adoptions were finalised - a 9 per cent drop from 2012-13 and a 76 per cent drop since 1989-90. 

There are certainly fewer children available to adopt. It is no longer a taboo for unmarried women to have babies and there are specific payments that support single mums. Treatments like IVF mean that some couples who may have previously looked to adopt can now have biological children, while the mainstream use of effective birth control now means fewer unwanted babies are born. 

There has also been a push back towards keeping children with their biological parents, where possible. For adoptions overseas, some countries like Korea and China are putting more emphasis on keeping children in the country. Others are putting in place quotas and cracking down on corruption. 

But adoption advocates have also been pressing federal and state governments to make it easier to adopt children, arguing that the process is strangled by bureaucracy for both overseas and local adoptions. And that it simply takes way too long. 

Read more here.

June 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Adoption in India

From the Washington Post:

When Shreya Roy applied to adopt an orphan in New Delhi in 2012, she was told that the wait could be at least three years — if she was lucky.

“We called about 25 children’s adoption homes in the city. They kept saying, ‘There are no babies, there are no babies,’ ” said Roy, a 35-year-old public relations professional. “It just did not make sense. Just look around — there are so many abandoned and poor babies.”

Roy’s frustration reflects what one government official calls India’s “shameful” record on adoption: With more than 30 million orphans in the country, according to one estimate, only about 2,500 were adopted last year, down from 5,700 four years ago. Prospective parents, meanwhile, are stymied by complicated rules, long delays, overcautious bureaucracy and illegal trafficking.

Read more here.

June 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Saudi Arabia Stats

From Arab News:

Saudi courts have received 84,000 child custody and dowry-related cases in total during the past seven months, according to data released by the Ministry of Justice recently. 

Cases of child custody and dowry issues reached 43,000 and 41,000, respectively, with Riyadh registering the highest portion of dowry cases at 1,122, followed by Jeddah (768) and Makkah (394), Al-Watan daily reported.

Similarly, child custody cases were the highest in Riyadh at 1,046, followed by Jeddah (764) and Makkah (473), the Ministry report said.

Read more here.


June 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Child Custody

From The Daily News of Newburyport:

It's been more than two decades since Daniel Sabbatelli was locked in a contentious divorce that ended with him getting limited access to his three daughters. The emotional toll hasn't diminished.

"The courts don't treat both parents equal," he said. "It's winner-take-all."

Sabbatelli, a Woburn electrical contractor, is one dozens of advocates now arguing that parents should be entitled to equal custody of their children.

Groups like the Boston-based National Parents Organization, to which Sabbatelli belongs, have thrown support behind legislation that requires family court judges to consider "joint custody" in most divorce cases, unless a parent is deemed unfit, along with a raft of other proposed changes to custody laws.

Read more here.

June 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Child Support Fraud

From KCRG:

A Maquoketa woman will spend 18 months in prison for collecting nearly $100,000 in child support payments for a baby she never had.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice for the Southern District of Iowa news release, in 2007, 34-year-old Johna L. Vandemore — aka Johna Volger and Johna Ratlif — was in a short-term relationship with the victim. After that relationship ended, Vandemore told the man she was pregnant.

Despite the fact that there was no child, Vandemore demanded a lump sum of financial support from the victim or she said she would take him to court, authorities said. The victim agreed to make monthly payments of $1,000, plus cover all child-related monthly expenses, according to the news release. Between August 2007 and October 2013, Vandemore received 90 separate payments totaling $95,850.

Read more here.

May 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 29, 2015

GAL's in CT

From the Connecticut Law Tribune:

During testimony before the legislature last year, it seemed like the loudest voices in the debate over family court reform were those of divorcing parents angry at a legal system they believed had failed them.

Dozens of people testified in favor of increased regulation for court-appointed guardians ad litem, who are appointed by judges and inform the court of the "best interests of the child" in high-conflict custody cases. Some parents complained of staggering legal bills brought on, in part, by GALs whose intervention caused cases to drag on for years. In turn, lawmakers approved changes, including a new sliding fee scale for court-appointed GALs and increased scrutiny of their appointment by judges.

The high drama of 2014 has a sequel this year. A bill introduced by state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, D-Hartford, and supported by several legislators would further regulate GALs. But this time around, family law practitioners are speaking out. They say the proposed reforms, which would allow guardians ad litem to be sued, would further reduce the number of attorneys willing to serve as GALs and prove damaging for children caught in the middle of parental custody battles.

Read more here.

May 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Information in Adoptions

From Sioux City Journal:

A military couple is suing the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, accusing the agency of illegally hiding the serious medical and mental health issues of a 6-year-old boy they adopted six years ago.

The couple adopted the boy in 2009 while they were stationed at Offutt Air Force Base south of Omaha, the Lincoln Journal Star reported Saturday.

Their attorney, Sally Rasmussen of Lincoln, said Nebraska HHS told the couple only that the boy "was a handful," might have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and that his biological mother had consumed alcohol while she was pregnant with him.

But the couple's lawsuit says they later learned the department was aware — and didn't tell them — that the boy had been diagnosed at age 2 with severe attachment disorder and later with bipolar disorder. Nor did agency officials tell the couple that the boy had been removed from foster homes for inappropriate sexual contact involving other children and from another foster home due to abuse by a foster father.

Read more here.

May 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Child Support in Nebraska

From Lincoln Journal Star:

As lawmakers measure their fiscal footprints this year, Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks says she's trying to stop $80 million from disappearing.

That's one selling point of a bill she sponsored that would bring Nebraska in line with an international deal for handling child support cases.

The bill (LB415) could keep the state from losing about $23 million the federal government kicks in to pay for child support enforcement, followed by an additional $57 million, the state's entire federal budget for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Read more here.

May 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Life Events & Divorce

From Fox News:

Late last month, Boston Marathon bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory made headlines with the sad news that she was separating from her husband—who was also injured in the blast—less than one year after their dream wedding. Without knowing the couple, it’s impossible to say what contributed to the dissolution of their marriage, but it’s probably safe to say that the stresses of the last few years (surgeries, rehabilitation, major physical changes) may have played a role.

And while not everyone has to deal with things this catastrophic, most couples do face plenty of stressors and life changes, both big and small. We asked Elizabeth Ochoa, PhD, marriage counselor and chief psychologist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, to weigh in on life events that can sometimes lead to divorce—and how to protect your relationship from their harmful effects.

Read more here.

May 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 25, 2015

CA Child Custody Case

From Bakersfield Now:

A Bakersfield woman continues to try and regain sole custody of her 8-year-old daughter in an unusual child custody battle.

The girl is currently living with the father, 56-year-old Nicholas Elizondo, who is a registered sex offender.

Elizondo was convicted in 1995 after pleading no contest to one count of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

In June 2013, Elizondo traveled to Oklahoma to gain custody of his daughter, and after a lengthy battle, a judge awarded full custody of the child to Elizondo.

Read more here.

May 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Adoption in Michigan

From the Detroit Free Press:

On 4-1 party-line votes, the Senate Families Seniors and Human Services passed three bills that will allow Faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to serve prospective parents based on their religious beliefs.

The bills, which would allow the agencies to refuse service to same-sex or unmarried couples if that goes against their religious beliefs, are moving as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments next week on whether same-sex marriage should be legal in Michigan and several other states.

The vote came after two hours of testimony from a wide group of supporters and opponents, including several gay and straight parents who have adopted children.

Read more here.

May 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tragedy May Lead to Legal Changes

From USA Today:

The deaths of two siblings discovered stuffed in a freezer in their Detroit home will lead to changes in policy and prevent future tragedies.  It was a message repeated throughout the joint funeral service for Stephen Gage Berry and Stoni Ann Blair at Greater Grace Temple.

Read more here.

May 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Parental Rights in the 4th Circuit

From Fox News:

A lawyer for a radical Muslim convert imprisoned for supporting terrorism urged a federal appeals revive the man's parental rights lawsuit, which a judge had dismissed as frivolous.

Jason LaFond told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Zachary Chesser's complaint against his mother and FBI agents, while lengthy and complicated, was not fanciful and was supported by numerous documents.

The judge who dismissed the lawsuit "didn't say whether it was factually or legally frivolous, but it was neither," LaFond said.

Court papers show that Chesser attempted to join the al-Shabab terrorist group in Somalia, taking his baby with him to the airport in an attempt to look less suspicious.

Read more here.

May 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)