Family Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Australia Considers Same-Sex Marriage

From The New York Times:

SYDNEY, Australia — Unlike the United States, Canada and New Zealand, Australia stands out as a developed, English-speaking country that has not legalized same-sex marriage.

But a new survey shows Australian attitudes on the issue are rapidly changing, suggesting it is Parliament that is falling behind international peers in recognizing gay marriage.

Read more here.

August 9, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Child Molesters Caught Texting

From the New York Times:

On a flight from Seattle to San Jose, Calif., on Monday, a woman caught a glimpse of some text messages that alarmed her.

A man seated in front of her on the Southwest Airlines flight was “texting about sexually molesting young children,” the San Jose Police Departmentsaid in a news release.

Read more here.

August 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Conservative Chile and Abortion

From ABC News:

Chilean lawmakers have approved a bill that would legalize abortion in limited circumstances and end the socially conservative country's status as the last in South America with a blanket ban on the procedure.

The measure approved late Wednesday allows abortions when a woman's life is in danger, when a fetus is not viable and in cases of rape. President Michelle Bachelet, a physician and former head of U.N. Women, backs the bill and has said she will sign it into law.

Read more here.

August 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Trump Administration and Russian Adoption

From Time Magazine:

The controversy over a meeting involving members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials continues to grow. But one aspect of it may seem curious to people who don't follow Russian politics: the idea that the meeting centered on adoptions.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that President Trump "personally dictated" the statement in which his son Donald Trump Jr. said that the June 2016 meeting was mostly about "the adoption of Russian children"—a claim that was subsequently undercut by the release of emails that set it up.

Even if they were discussed at the meeting, Russian adoptions might seem like a niche topic for a presidential campaign to engage in, but they are actually at the center of a geopolitical storm that dates back to the end of the Cold War—one that has lately been used by the Russian government to fight back against U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. is uniquely implicated in the history of international adoption, as the nation that has—since Americans began opening their homes to European war orphans in the wake of World War II—long been the place where the most international adoptions are bound. But this particular story began about 25 years ago, with the fall of the Soviet Union.

Read more here.

August 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 6, 2017


The New Yorker considers: When Should a Child Be Taken from His Parents?  Read the article here.

August 6, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Girls in Japan Pop Culture

From the Economist:

AT FIRST glance, Sora Tob Sakana is aimed squarely at the pre-teen market. After all, the pop group’s four members are 14- to 16-year-old girls who sport ponytails and cutesy frilly dresses and pump out bubblegum tunes accompanied by wobbly dancing. Yet at a festival of similar “idol” bands in Yokohoma on July 9th, the fans were mostly single men aged between 20 and 50 who might well describe themselves as otaku—nerds. When asked, some men say they do not need to marry; their idols give them the romantic fulfilment they need.

Creepy? It is true, says Rei Kazama, one of the band members, looking slightly uncomfortable, that many of the fans are ojisan—middle-aged blokes. She would prefer a younger audience. But, she adds, the ojisan are supportive: “It’s like they’re nurturing us as we grow up.” Purity, a band manager says, is a selling-point. The girls are under contract not to have boyfriends—presumably to encourage fans to projects their own fantasies onto their favourite band members.

Read more here.

August 5, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Indiana DCS

From the Indiana Lawyer:

Indiana officials expect to settle a federal damages lawsuit in a second case where a court has found a Department of Child Services case manager violated the constitutional rights of a parent.

Indianapolis veterinarian Beth Breitweiser and DCS filed a joint notice of tentative settlement July 17, six days after a judge ruled for Breitweiser. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt gave the parties 90 days to finalize a settlement in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in Indianapolis.

Pratt granted Breitweiser summary judgment on her complaint that a DCS case manager violated her Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an unreasonable search of an apartment where she and her children had been temporarily staying. The case manager also violated Breitweiser’s 14th Amendment rights for denying her due process, Pratt ruled.

The tentative settlement notice does not indicate potential terms, and Breitweiser’s attorney, E. Scott Treadway, did not reply to a request for comment about them. It’s expected that the settlement will include the second payout in tax dollars that the state will make this year in a case involving abuses by DCS case managers.

In May, the state agreed to pay a record $25 million settlement to the Finnegan family in northern Indiana to resolve a case in which a jury had awarded the family $31 million. The jury’s verdict included damages for conduct by DCS agents that the jury found “shocked the conscience.”

The Finnegan settlement ended the family’s decade-long fight to clear their names after DCS falsified abuse substantiations to seek convictions against parents Roman and Lynette Finnegan and take their children from their Francesville home after one of the children died. The child’s death was later found to be due to a prescription error.

No criminal charges were ever brought against DCS workers in the Finnegan case, nor have any been brought against Nola Hunt, the case manager whose conduct led to the ruling in Breitweiser’s favor. None of the DCS employees in either the Finnegan or the Breitweiser cases were terminated by the agency.

Read more here.

August 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Gray Divorces

From the Indiana Lawyer:

It’s a social phenomenon that is catching people by surprise — a sharp increase in the number of “gray divorces,” or divorces among couples who are 50 or older.

Among the baby boom generation, the divorce rate has doubled since the 1990s. In 2015, up to 10 out of every 1,000 people over the age of 50 divorced, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. Though these rates are still lower than those of younger generations, it is the increase in the number of divorces, not the actual divorce rate, that is generating interest among family law attorneys and experts. From a social perspective, Indiana divorce attorneys say the reasons older couples seek divorces may be similar to reasons earlier in life: a lack of common interests, a loss of deep connection or an experience of “growing apart.” Yet in a modern world that views marriage differently than it did 50 years ago, some baby boomers are beginning to realize they want to explore their own interests and are choosing to strike out on their own to check items off of their bucket lists.

Read more here.

August 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Parental Kidnapping

From the Washington Post:

When my client told me her abusive ex-boyfriend had shown up after a long absence, beaten her and kidnapped their children, I assumed the police would respond quickly and issue Amber alerts. But a D.C. police officer refused even to write a report, dismissing the complaint as a “private family matter” and opining, “What safer place for the children than with their dad?”

We were met with similar indifference from the child-abduction unit supervisor, who pondered, “Isn’t possession nine-tenths of the law?” (No, it’s not.)

The reaction of the judge in the family court’s domestic violence unit was equally alarming. She incorrectly questioned whether she had jurisdiction, now that the children were several states away. And when she learned that my client had declined her ex-boyfriend’s marriage proposal, and that he’d texted that if she wanted to see their children again she would agree to marry him, the judge said, “Aw, it sounds like he’s just heartbroken.”

Eventually, persuaded by my clinical law student’s recitation of the applicable law and by my client’s visible bruises, the judge entered a temporary protection order that awarded my client custody of the children. After several days on the road, the ex-boyfriend said he would return with the children if my client would not pursue criminal charges for abduction. She desperately wanted her children back home with her and readily agreed.

Read more here.

August 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


The Economist has several articles recently on the trend of childlessness, including:

The Rise of Childlessness:

POCKET LIVING has been building and selling small flats in London since 2005. The flats have many of the things that young, single people want, such as bicycle storage, and lack the things they do not, such as large kitchens and lots of bookshelves. At first, Pocket expected that most buyers would be in their late 20s, says Marc Vlessing, the firm’s boss. Instead the average age is 32, and rising. It is not that many buyers are yet to have children, speculates Mr Vlessing; rather, they probably will never have them.

A growing number of city-dwelling Europeans are in the same situation. Just 9% of English and Welsh women born in 1946 had no children. For the cohort born in 1970—who, barring a few late surprises, can be assumed to be done with babies—the proportion is 17%. In Germany 22% of women reach their early 40s without children; in Hamburg 32% do.

Read more here.



In Defence of the Childless:

One by one, prejudices are tumbling in the West.  People may harbour private suspicions that other people's race, sex or sexuality makes them inferior--but to say so openly is utterly taboo.  As most kind of prejudiced talk become the preserve of anonymous social-media ranters, though one old strain remains respectable.  Just ask a childless person.

Read more here.


August 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Removal of Kids for Parents' IQ Scores

From OregonLive:

The nursery in Amy Fabbrini and Eric Ziegler's home is filled with unread children's books and unworn baby clothes. A Winnie the Pooh blanket lies untouched inside a crib where a child has never slept.

For nearly four years, the Redmond couple has been fighting to prove to the state of Oregon that they are intellectually capable of raising their children. The Department of Human Services has removed both of their boys, saying the parents are too mentally limited to be good parents.

Fabbrini, 31, and Ziegler, 38, lost custody of their older son, Christopher, shortly after he was born. Five months ago, the state took their second child, newborn Hunter, directly from the hospital. Both are now in foster care. 

"I love kids, I was raised around kids, my mom was a preschool teacher for 20-plus years, and so I've always been around kids," Fabbrini said. "That's my passion. I love to do things with kids, and that's what I want to do in the future, something that has to do with kids."

No abuse or neglect has been found, but each parent has a degree of limited cognitive abilities. Rather than build a network of support around them, the state child welfare agency has moved to terminate the couple's parental rights and make the boys available for adoption.

Read more here.

July 31, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wife of Slain Officer Gives Birth Two Years Later

From The Washington Post:

Many people saw Pei Xia Chen for the first time at one of her most difficult moments.

In December 2014, her husband, New York City police officer Wenjian Liu, and his partner, Rafael Ramos, were ambushed and killed in their patrol car.

Read more here.

July 31, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

New Abortion Restrictions in Missouri

From NPR:

Missouri already has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country. Now it's looking to place new requirements on the procedure, including having doctors meet with women seeking abortions before formal consent can be given and requiring the health department to hold unannounced annual inspections of abortion clinics.

Read more here.

July 30, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Parental Rights in Child's Health Care

From the Economist:

AFTER five months of agonising court battles, on July 24th the parents of Charlie Gard, an 11-month-old boy suffering from a rare genetic disorder, ended their fight to keep their son alive.  They had wanted to take him to America to receive an experimental treatment that his doctors in Britain argued was not in his interests.  The case has raised intense debate around the world about the limits of the power of parents and the state.

Read more here.

July 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"The Millennial Success Sequence"

From Professors June Carbone & Naomi Cahn, writing for the Institute for Family Studies:

What role does the family play in an age of increasing inequality? Two long-term changes determine the result. The first is a shift in family formation strategies. As we wrote in Red Families v. Blue Families in 2010, a new “blue family” value system emerged to prepare young adults for the changes associated with the information economy. Men and women in this system delay family formation until after they reach emotional maturity and financial independence. Adult commitments rest on flexibility and trust, and childbearing is seen as a critical responsibility best undertaken through planning and preparation. We compared this system with a more traditional or “red family” value approach that placed greater emphasis on shepherding sexuality into marriage and socializing young people into adulthood through the acceptance of gendered marital roles.

The second change has been the emergence of family form as a marker of class. The groups with the most stable marriage rates—and the most stable families—are those with more education or more income. Two-thirds of Millennials without a high school education, for example, had a nonmarital child compared to nine percent of those with a college degree or additional education. These family differences correspond to differences in income and wealth and appear to compound them.

A new report from IFS and AEI, The Millennial Success Sequence, beautifully reveals how the life patterns of Millennials illustrate these long-term changes: Millennials who are most likely to achieve economic security "get at least a high school degree, work, and then marry before having any children, in that order." The report found that those with less than a high school education were about five times less likely than those with a bachelor’s or higher degree to be in the middle or top third of the income distribution. Completing education, securing a job, and committing to the right partner in a stable marriage relationship constitutes “a sequence” important to achieving middle-class financial status and providing a stable foundation for family life.

Read more here.

July 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Defining Close Family under Travel Ban

From NPR:

The Supreme Court has upheld parts of a lower court order that had widened the definition of which citizens from the six Muslim-majority countries covered by the Trump administration's travel ban are still eligible to travel to the U.S.

The order issued Wednesday leaves in place the action of a U.S. District Court judge in Hawaii who broadened the definition of close family to include categories such as the grandparents and cousins of a person in the U.S.

Read more here.

July 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Review of "Gendered Law in American History"

Professors’ Richard Chused and Wendy Williams book, Gendered Law in American History, has been identified by Janet Halley as one of the best works of recent scholarship relating to Family Law, in a review published in Jotwell: The Journal of Things We Like (Lots):

But for those of us who are not legal historians, answering that question is very hard work. There are plenty of classics to turn to, from Michael Grossberg’s Governing the Hearth to Hendrik Hartog’s Some Day All This Will Be Yours.  But a new resource offers a comprehensive, elegantly curated collection of primary documents that shed light on a range of the most important themes: Gendered Law in American History by Richard Chused and Wendy Williams. This rich resource—more than 1200 pages—is ideal summer reading for family law enthusiasts!

Read the review here.




July 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kentucky Pays for Refusing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

From The New York Times:

A federal judge on Friday ordered Kentucky to pay more than $224,000 in legal fees and costs because one of its county clerks had refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The order, handed down by Judge David L. Bunning of United States District Court, moved the protracted case one step closer to conclusion, about two years after the Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis, defied a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2015 and decided not to issue the marriage licenses.

Read more here.

July 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Texas Bill to Revoke Medical Licenses for Doctors Who Perform Abortions

From The Texas Observer:

A bill filed in the Texas Legislature’s special session would revoke the licenses of doctors who perform abortions in the state, with limited exceptions.

The measure, filed by far-right Representative Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, would expand the “prohibited practices” that result in a physician’s license being revoked, a category that already includes several abortion-related measures. Under House Bill 86, almost all abortions would be prohibited, with very narrow exceptions for the health of the woman and fetus: when necessary to save the life of the woman or prevent “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, other than a psychological condition,” or when the procedure is necessary to ensure the viability of another fetus she’s carrying.

Read more here.

July 28, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Time and Marriage

From Refinery29:

Modern couples are rewriting the rulebook when it comes to weddings and marriage. We're spending less on more unique and interesting engagement rings and waiting until later in our lives than previous generations to tie the knot.
Not only that, but we're also spending longer in our relationships before getting married. According to a survey of 4,000 recently married
couples by, the average couple spends 4.9 years in a relationship before getting married, meaning we know our partners better than ever before walking down the aisle.

Read more here.

July 27, 2017 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)