Family Law Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Clare Huntington: "Postmarital Family Law: A Legal Structure for Nonmarital Families"

Clare Huntington (Fordham University School of Law) has posted Postmarital Family Law: A Legal Structure for Nonmarital Families, 67 Stan. L. Rev. 167 (2015) on SSRN:

Family law is based on marriage, but family life increasingly is not. The American family is undergoing a seismic shift, with marriage rates steadily declining and more than four in ten children now born to unmarried parents. Children of unmarried parents fall far behind children of married parents on a variety of metrics, contributing to stark inequality among children. Poverty and related factors explain much of this differential, but new sociological evidence highlights family structure — particularly friction and dislocation between unmarried parents after their relationship ends — as a crucial part of the problem. As the trend toward nonmarital childbearing continues to spread across class lines, the effect will be most pronounced among children.

This shift is the single most important issue facing family law today, yet scholars have been slow to engage with the structure and substance of the law in response. In family law, the marital family serves as a misleading synecdoche for all families, not only marginalizing nonmarital families, but also actively undermining their already tenuous bonds.

It is essential for family law to address the needs of both marital and nonmarital families. This entails a new theory of state regulation as well as new doctrines, institutions, and norms in practice. Some feminists argue that the state should privilege caregiving between parents and children instead of marital relationships, while other commenters stubbornly advocate marriage primacy — the elevation of marriage above other family forms — despite all evidence that marriage promotion fails. These responses fundamentally misunderstand nonmarital family life, in which dynamics between parents deeply affect children yet marriage is not realistically returning. We must instead understand that it is possible to separate marriage from parenthood but not relationships from parenthood. The state must accordingly help unmarried parents become effective co-parents, especially after their relationship ends, so they can provide children with the healthy relationships crucial to child development. This theoretical insight, and the family law that flows from it, will inaugurate a larger debate about how to prepare for a world in which marriage is not the defining institution of family life.


March 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 9, 2015

CO Child Support

From Reporter Herald:

On Tuesday the Colorado Senate Finance Committee will review a bill intended to amend child support payment procedures for low-income Colorado families. The Senate Finance Committee will decide the Senate Bill 15-012's next step in the state legislative process.

Fort Collins Sen. John Kefalas (D-District 14) is co-sponsoring the bill with Lakewood Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-District 28).

Currently, Colorado families receiving state- and county-level payments from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (also known as Colorado Works) program effectively forfeit child support payments made from noncustodial parents. These payments instead go to the county to offset the costs of financial assistance programs.

Read more here.


March 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

IN Adoption Records

From WANE:

Supporters of a bill that would open up Indiana’s records to people adopted between 1941 and 1993 say it could help many thousands of people find their biological parents.

Under the measure, women who placed a child for adoption during that time period could file a no-contact form to keep those records sealed. If a woman does not file such a request, the records would then be opened up to their child.

State Sen. Brent Steele is co-sponsoring the bill, which is now before the House after passing the Indiana Senate 46-3.

Read more here.


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

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Parenting in Nebraska

From 1011now:

Sen. Laura Ebke (Crete) introduced a bill that would encourage judges to more fairly divide custody between separated parents. LB-437 asks that judges split custody by at least 65/35, unless there are circumstances in a case that warrant less visitation.

Ebke says it's important for kids to have both parents in their lives.
"Parents and kids alike, you know, thrive off of each other. The things that a young lady or a young man get from their parents are different. Moms and dads are different creatures and so it's good for them to have exposure to both."

Read more here.


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

Friday, March 6, 2015

PA Family Law

From WFMZ Allentown:

Legislation that would update Pennsylvania's domestic relations law as it pertains to support and custody of children conceived by rape or incest is supported by State Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh).

At a Monday news conference in Harrisburg Schlossberg explained that, under current Pennsylvania law, a victim who chooses to keep a child conceived as the result of rape may have to endure continued forced interactions with a rapist through visitation. And if the victim is able to convince a court to terminate those parental rights, the perpetrator is relieved of his duty to financially support the child.

Read more here.


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

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Child Support Amnesty

From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

With 2,070 outstanding bench warrants and more than $20 million owed in outstanding child support, the Allegheny County family court division this week will offer amnesty to those who turn themselves in.

That means there will be no arrests, said Patrick Quinn, the administrator for the division. Instead, the individuals’ cases will be reviewed, payments can be adjusted based on earnings and the warrants will be dismissed.

“While we certainly like to collect money for folks, to us, amnesty is about getting people back on track,” Mr. Quinn said.

Read more here.


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

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Divorced Catholics

From The New York Times:

Facing millions of divorced Catholics around the world, many of whom express frustration over their status in the church, the Vatican has begun a remarkable re-examination of the church’s treatment of worshipers whose marriages have broken apart.

Pope Francis, who plans to make his first trip to the United States in September to attend a conference on families, has acknowledged the concerns of divorced Catholics. He has set in motion a high-level debate about whether and how the church could change its posture toward them without altering a doctrine that declares marriage to be permanent and indissoluble.

The battle lines are clear: Some high-level church officials, most notably the conference of German bishops, want the church to relax its rules so that divorced Catholics can more fully return to church life, particularly by receiving communion, even if they have remarried. Traditionalists arepushing back fiercely, arguing that the indissolubility of marriage is ordained by God and therefore nonnegotiable.

Read more here.


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

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

On Cohabitation

From New York Post:

“What are the odds you’d be in this relationship if you weren’t living with your boyfriend or girlfriend?” That’s the question Scott Stanley asks people who cohabited before they got married.

Stanley, the co-director of Center for Marital and Family Studies, tells me that for surprisingly many people — including reporters who call to interview him — the answer is: You wouldn’t be.

He says he first started to wonder about this question in the mid-’90s.

In a survey of couples married less than 10 years, he found that men who lived with their wives before marriage “rated themselves considerably lower in dedication” — what Stanley refers to as their “intrinsic motivation to be with this person.”

Read more here.


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

Monday, March 2, 2015

Divorce Trends

From Dubuque Telegraph Herald:

If you're past 50, it's critically important to pay attention to how your retirement savings weathers the storm. Divorce filings tend to surge at the beginning of the year, experts say, whether from pent-up demand after the holidays or to avoid having to endure another loveless Valentine's Day.

Parents with kids in school tend to hold out until the end of a school year, but when it comes to couples in middle age and beyond -- the so-called gray divorce -- the beginning of the year is often clean-slate time, said Tracy Stewart, a certified divorce financial analyst, accountant and financial planner in College Station, Texas.

The overall numbers are getting big. Divorce rates among 50-plus couples roughly doubled between 1990 and 2013, and 30 percent of divorced women 62 and older who are single live at or below the federal poverty line, said Susan Brown, a Bowling Green State University professor who has chronicled gray divorce trends.

Read more here.


March 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Divorce Recovery Conference

From KCTV Kansas City:

A special conference in the metro was created to help women who are going through divorce spread hope and love to others.

Women traveled from as far as 700 miles away to attend this year's "Your Heart's Desires" divorce recovery conference at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.

Read more here.


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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Children & Family Relations Bill

From Irish Independent:

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald expects to get Government clearance on Tuesday for a new Children & Family Relations Bill, which she hopes will be put through the Dáil and Seanad by the end of March. Ms Fitzgerald has repeatedly argued that child welfare issues in same-sex marriages, and other relationships apart from traditional marriage, are best dealt with by a separate law and are not part of the referendum debate.

But opponents of the marriage vote, due in May, seriously contest this view. Independent Senator Ronan Mullen said the Government was "putting the cart before the horse" and may well be advancing a new law which goes against the Constitution.

Read more here.


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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

MN Family Law

From StarTribune:

A package of proposals to reform family law in Minnesota are the result of more than a decade of negotiations capped with difficult but successful compromise, a group of bipartisan lawmakers said Thursday.

The changes, which range from altering child support and parenting time changes to clarifying penalties for parents who deny parenting time to another parent, are the work of lawmakers and family law attorneys.

Lawmakers have long debated the state’s laws governing custody and parenting time. Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed legislation in 2012, urging the more than 30 collaborators in the legislative and family law arenas to return to the table with more compromise.

Read more here.


February 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

FL Alimony

From Sun Sentinel:

Paying alimony for life soon could be dead in Florida, if the state Legislature approves radical reforms this year.

This would be the second such attempt to do away with an alimony system that some call outdated. The Legislature tried to eliminate lifelong alimony two years ago, but Gov. Rick Scott vetoed it, saying the changes could have eliminated payments to people who already were receiving and depending upon them. The latest effort doesn't include that provision, and proponents are optimistic that the bill will pass now.

For the first time, Florida would get guidelines for how long alimony should be awarded.

Read more here.


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

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Schools' Reaction

From  Jacoba Urist, writing for the Atlantic:

The debates over vaccinations are often cast as arguments over the integrity of science. But they can just as easily be understood as conversations about power, writes Eula Biss, a senior lecturer at Northwestern University, in her book, On Immunity: An Inoculation. As it stands, all 50 states require specific vaccines for school-aged children, although each grants exemptions for students unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons. The power struggle—pitting parents against parents—arises in the 19 states that allow families to opt out of vaccination requirements by claiming a "philosophical exemption," whether based on personal, moral, or religious beliefs.

Last month, however, one private Montessori school in Traverse City, Michigan—The Children’s House, which serves infants through children in the eighth grade—changed the power dynamic. As one parent there described it, the school wrested control from a vocal minority of people in their community who don’t believe in vaccinating their children and gave the majority who do their voice back. By revising its admissions policy and refusing to accept new students whose parents opt them out for personal beliefs, The Children’s House illustrates how schools are becoming ground zero for the anti-vaccine dispute. It also serves as an example of how educators—not state legislators or health officials—may be the ones who ultimately resolve the public controversy over immunization requirements.

Read more here.


February 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Suing for Measles

 Jacoba Urist, writing for Today:

Say you take a family trip to Disney Land and your baby gets measles — perhaps suffers severe complications and can no longer hear or is left with brain damage. Would you want to sue the parents who voluntarily decided not to vaccinate their child, thus allowing the disease to pass to your baby?

It’s a growing debate, especially as measles cases in the United States have been rising steadily for the past few years, along with vaccine opt-outs. Should parents be held liable for unvaccinated children, if the decision was based only on a personal belief and they had no medical reason for opting out of their state’s immunization requirements?

Read more here.


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

Friday, February 20, 2015

Child Support in IN

From WRTV Indianapolis:

The Call 6 Investigators are digging into the state's child support system, which is currently under review by the Domestic Relations Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

RTV6 aired a series of reports on child support including a family torn apart by unpaid child support.

It's an issue that affects a lot of Hoosiers: roughly half of Indiana marriages end in divorce, and statistics show 43 percent of babies born in this state are to unmarried parents.

The Call 6 Investigators were flooded with responses from parents who say Indiana's child support system is broken and unfair.

Read more here.


February 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

CA Custody Arrangements

From Ukiah Daily Journal:

A new tool for parents with child custody arrangements was unveiled by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Monday.

According to the MCSO, the Child Custody Exchange Location Project, located at 951 Low Gap Road, came about through a partnership between Sheriff Tom Allman and Superior Court Judge David A. Riemenschneider.

The project creates a “safe zone” of parking spaces near the parking lot for the jail that are “well-lit and video-recorded 24/7 with multiple cameras for the purpose of documenting all activity.” It is designed to allow families with court-ordered child custody and visitation agreements to document their exchanges without the direct assistance of law enforcement officers.

Read more here.


February 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

MI Child Custody


A new bill introduced in the State House Tuesday will protect the child custody rights of servicemen and women who are deployed.

State Representative Tom Barrett says the courts should not be able to take away custodial rights without a hearing involving both parents.

Under the measure, no changes could be made while one of the parents is deployed. However, if the child is in danger, a judge will have the ability to override the restrictions.

Read more here.


February 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Child Support in TX

From KFOX El Paso:

Millions of dollars have been recovered in child support in El Paso through a state program that puts parents to work instead of sending them to jail.

According to the Texas Attorney General's Office, last year, the state recovered $2.5 million in child support through the Non-Custodial Parent (NCP) Choices Program in El Paso. Records from the Attorney General's office also shows that $12.8 million has been collected in total in El Paso since the program began in 2005.

The NCP program collaborative initiative between the Texas Attorney General's Office and Workforce Solutions began in 2005. The program helps low-income, unemployed, or underemployed non-custodial parents behind on their child support payments find work.
Before this program, officials with Workforce Solutions said in some circumstances, these parents would be sent to jail.

Read  more here.


February 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Child Support in OH

From Dayton Daily News:

Taxpayers end up footing the bill through social services for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding child support owed. But a new approach in Montgomery County is having success at making parents pay.

There are 140 people in the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court’s felony non-support court — all men. Of those, 35 have warrants for failing to pay child support in amounts ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars. The felony non-support court makes it its business to find out why they aren’t supporting their children.

Established in 2004, the specialized non-support court’s docket targets parents who haven’t made child support payments in 26 weeks or more — meaning they are facing felony charges. By focusing on just these cases, experts learned that many times non-payment is merely a function of unemployment, sometimes due to economic circumstances, other times due to addiction, or being a convicted felon for not paying child support, said Judge Michael Krumholtz, who is assigned to the court.

Read more here.


February 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)