Family Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Call for Papers


Les Cahiers de droit – thematic issue to be published in 2018

Family law reforms: diversity and legitimacy 

For the last twenty years or so, family law in most western countries has been undergoing a process of fundamental transformation. Although the pace varies, the general trend is clear. Individuals are given greater control over conjugal and parental relationships and their legal consequences, and also over conflict-resolution methods. The demographic and sociological profile of families has also changed radically over the same twenty-year period. An increase in separations, shorter relationships, the abandonment of marriage in favour of other conjugal forms, the multiplication of conjugal models, access to a range of procreation methods, single parenthood, multiple legal parents, and blended families are some of the generalized trends that require societies to examine the need to update their family law. In addition, there are increasing calls for an approach to family law that provides a better match for the realities faced by present-day families, and that is also simpler and more accessible. The contractualization of conjugal relationships and the privatization of dispute resolution methods introduce new risks, raising the key question of the objectives that should be targeted by contemporary family law. Several jurisdictions have moved, like Québec, in the direction of partial reforms in response to immediate concerns, while others, like British Columbia more recently, have implemented a comprehensive reform. A comprehensive reform is the solution put forward by Québec's advisory committee on family law reform which, in its 2015 report, proposes nothing less than a restructuring of family law.

Whether the reform takes place in the immediate future or remains simply as a goal, this appears to us an appropriate time to bring together, in a thematic issue of Les Cahiers de Droit, the contributions of researchers looking at recent developments in family law in both civil and common law jurisdictions, and assessing options for reform of the law. The contributions may focus on themes of current concern in connection with either conjugal relationships or parental rights, approaches to dispute resolution, and also on the processes used to reform family law.  

This thematic issue of Les Cahiers de droit will be edited jointly by Professor Dominique Goubau from the Faculty of Law, at Laval University and Professor Emerita Susan Boyd of the Peter A. Allard School of Law at The University of British Columbia. Papers 20 to 30 pages long (1.5 spaced, footnotes included) must be submitted by e-mail ( before April 1 st, 2018.

The journal Les Cahiers de droit publishes original papers in French and English. All submitted texts are assessed anonymously by two external experts. The style sheet is available on the journal's website at: For more information:


Les Cahiers de droit – numéro thématique devant paraître en 2018

Les réformes en droit de la famille : diversité et légitimité

Depuis une vingtaine d'années, le droit de la famille de la plupart des pays occidentaux est engagé dans un processus de transformation fondamental. Le rythme n'est pas le même partout, mais le mouvement est incontestable. Il est caractérisé par une plus grande emprise des individus sur les liens conjugaux et parentaux ainsi que sur les conséquences juridiques de ces liens; une plus grande emprise aussi sur les façons de résoudre les conflits. Le portrait démographique et sociologique des familles a radicalement changé au cours de cette période. L'augmentation des séparations, le raccourcissement de la durée de vie commune, la désertion de l'institution du mariage au profit d'autres formes de conjugalité, la multiplication des modèles conjugaux, la diversité des modes de procréation, la monoparentalité, la pluriparentalité, les recompositions familiales sont, parmi d'autres, des phénomènes généralisés qui obligent les sociétés à s'interroger sur l'opportunité de mettre leur droit de la famille à niveau. Et de fait, on observe une augmentation des revendications en faveur d'un droit de la famille plus en phase avec la réalité des familles contemporaines, mais aussi un droit de la famille plus simple et plus accessible. Les phénomènes de contractualisation des rapports conjugaux et de privatisation des modes de règlement des conflits ne sont pas sans danger. Se pose dès lors la délicate question des objectifs que devrait tendre à atteindre le droit de la famille contemporain. Plusieurs pays ont procédé, comme ce fut le cas au Québec, à des réformes partielles répondants à des impératifs du moment. D'autres ont choisi la voie d'une réforme globale. Ce fut récemment le cas en Colombie-Britannique. C'est également la solution préconisée par le Comité consultatif sur la réforme du droit de la famille du Québec qui, dans son rapport de 2015, propose ni plus ni moins une restructuration du droit de la famille.

Que les réformes aient eu lieu, qu'elles soient imminentes ou à tout le moins souhaitées, le moment nous paraît propice pour rassembler dans un numéro thématique des Cahiers de Droit les contributions de chercheurs et de chercheures sur les plus récents développements du droit de la famille en droit civil et en common law, ainsi que sur les opérations de réforme de celui-ci. Les contributions peuvent porter sur des thèmes d'actualité concernant tant les relations conjugales que les liens parentaux et les modes de règlement des conflits. Elles peuvent également porter sur les processus de réforme du droit familial eux-mêmes.

La direction scientifique du numéro thématique des Cahiers de droit consacré à la réforme en droit de la famille sera assurée conjointement par le professeur Dominique Goubau, de la Faculté de droit de l’Université Laval, et la professeure émérite Susan Boyd, de la Peter A. Allard School of  Law de l’Université de la Colombie-Britannique. Les textes, de 20 à 30 pages (à interligne et demi, notes incluses), sont attendus d’ici le 1er avril 2018, par courriel (

Les Cahiers de droit publient des textes originaux en langue française et anglaise. Tous les textes soumis à la revue font l’objet d’une évaluation anonyme par deux experts externes. Les normes de présentation des textes sont consultables sur le site Web de la revue: Pour de plus amples renseignements :




January 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 29, 2018

No Formula For Alimony In New Jersey

From JD Supra:

One of the most common question posed by clients is – how is alimony determined?  Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that question, and it is often dependent upon the facts and circumstances of a given matter.  The law does not provide for a formula, even in the final version of the amended alimony statute that passed in late 2014, and requires that trial judges consider each of the factors outlined in New Jersey’s alimony statute (N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b)) in rendering an award.

Read more here. 

January 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Marital Jewelry Post-Divorce

From the New York Times:

Diane Lloyde Roth met, and married, her Prince Charming.

He turned into a frog.

Prince Charming No. 2: Frog.

Prince Charming No. 3: Frog.

After Ms. Roth’s third divorce, she sold a Harry Winston band that Frog No. 3 had bought her and purchased three thumb-size gold and diamond frog pins. She wears them crawling up her blouse in a column toward her neck.

“My mother always told me I would have to kiss a lot of frogs,” she said. “Instead, I married them. So this was an inexpensive way to a new beginning.”

The story of postmarital jewelry has many strands. There are the emotional tales of rebirth and repurposing, such as Ms. Roth’s frogs. There are the stories of the strictly financial, like when a piece that was once a symbol of everlasting love morphs into a strictly salable commodity that helps to pay the mortgage, a child’s college tuition or a charitable donation.

Upon her divorce from Donald Trump in 1999, Marla Maples sold her 7.45-carat Harry Winston diamond for $110,000 and reportedly donated the cash to charity. It was a move that Mr. Trump called “pretty tacky.”

And then there are the tales of bitter court disputes, once the battle of the assets commences. Disputed jewelry is sometimes lied about, hidden, stolen and, in rare instances, brazenly worn in public.

Read more here.

January 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Gay Couple Sent Satan Pamphlets Instead of Wedding Programs

From NBC News:

On the evening before their wedding in western Pennsylvania, Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg sat down together to open up a package they had received from Vistaprint that morning. The package was supposed to contain 100 wedding programs they ordered for their big day. The box’s contents, however, were not what the couple had imagined.

“Rather than send Plaintiffs the custom wedding programs they had purchased, Vistaprint instead sent Plaintiffs literature with hateful, discriminatory and anti-gay messages equating their relationship to Satan’s temptation,” a federal lawsuit against the printing company states.

Read more here.

January 28, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Alvaré: "Putting Children's Interests First in US Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility"

Helen M. Alvaré (George Mason) recently published the book Putting Children's Interests First in US Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility.  Here is the book's description:

The well-being of children should be a social priority, and should consider the family circumstances into which children are born. Putting Children's Interests First in US Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility details the rise of a federal policy of 'sexual expressionism', which prioritizes adults' interests over children's welfare. It describes the costs to children in the areas of family structure and stability, and the federal programs attempting to ameliorate the situation of non-marital children. Offering a detailed empirical and ethical critique both of 'sexual expressionism' and of the related federal programs, this study will be of interest to scholars and activists supporting children, women and the poor.

The book is available on Amazon here.

Read an interview with Prof. Alvaré on the book here and here.

January 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama Abortion Protections

From CNBC:

The Trump administration on Friday took two new steps in its ongoing fight against abortion.

The first was a new regulation that further underscored protections for health-care workers who refuse to perform abortions and other medical procedures because of religious and moral objections.

The second rescinded a formal warning issued by the Obama administration in 2016 to all state Medicaid directors reminding them that they could not cut funding to Planned Parenthood just because that group offers abortion services.

Read more here.


January 26, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Twins with Different Citizenships

From NY Daily News:

The biggest difference between twin brothers Ethan and Aidan Dvash-Banks is impossible to see: One’s a U.S. citizen, and the other is not.

The State Department’s stance on the 16-month-old siblings prompted a federal lawsuit on behalf of their married gay parents, who charge the agency’s decision is discriminatory.

The sons of Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks were each conceived with donor eggs and the sperm of one father, and delivered in Canada just minutes apart by a surrogate mom.

When the couple moved to Los Angeles, the boy sired by U.S. citizen Andrew was declared an official American. The child with Israeli citizen Elad’s DNA was denied the same status.

Read more here.

January 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Texas Supreme Court to Hear Divorce Case

From Longview News Journal:

The Texas Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments in a Rusk County divorce that occurred in the wake of a man's conviction for child sexual assault.

The issue before the court is whether a lower court should have awarded Amanda Bradshaw full ownership of the couple's homestead.

The case arises from the September 2013 divorce of Amanda and Samuel Barney Bradshaw, which occurred while the husband was in the Rusk County Jail on charges of sexually assaulting a girl younger than 14.

He had been arrested in Longview on a fugitive warrant by U.S. marshals a month before the divorce.

Read more here.

January 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Outgoing Liberian President Signs Bill Abolishing Female Genital Mutilation

From Front Page Africa:

The most talked about Domestic Violence Bill, which has suffered so many setbacks from the 52nd and 53rd Legislatures, was finally given an Executive Order late Friday evening (January 19) by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The President’s constitutional mandate, arguably comes to an end by midday Monday, January 22, when President-elect George Manneh Weah would have been sworn in as Liberia’s 24th President for the next six years.

“Yes, it is true that President Sirleaf this evening gave an Executive Order on the original Domestic Violence Bill, which includes FGM [Female Genital Mutilation] that was removed from the draft bill before the 53rd Legislature.

The Executive Order is to last for a year, before anything else is done with the bill,” confirmed Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek M. Piah, when news began to filter in that the President had issued a last-minute Executive Order.

Read more here.

January 23, 2018 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 22, 2018

Women's March 2018

From WTHR:

Activists are returning to the streets a year after a million people rallied worldwide at marches for female empowerment, hoping to create an enduring political movement that will elect more women to government office.

The marchers in Indy, like the others across the country, turned out to denounce President Trump's views on immigration, abortion, LGBT rights and women's rights.

"Over the last year,” said Savannah Pearlman, “we've all felt pent up frustration and anger over policies that our government has been enacting."

They carried signs saying, "Ugh, where do I even start,” and "Girl Power vs. Trump Tower."

Read more here.

January 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Request for Submissions Yale/Stanford/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum

June 13-14, 2018, Harvard Law School

Yale, Stanford, and Harvard Law Schools are soliciting submissions for the 19th session of the Yale/Stanford/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum, to be held at Harvard Law School on June 13-14, 2018. Twelve to twenty junior scholars (with one to seven years in teaching) will be chosen, through a blind selection process, to present their work at the Forum. One or more senior scholars will comment on each paper. The audience will include the participating junior faculty, faculty from the host institutions, and invited guests. The goal of the Forum is to promote in-depth discussion about particular papers and more general reflections on broader methodological issues, as well as to foster a stronger sense of community among American legal scholars, particularly by strengthening ties between new and veteran professors. 

TOPICS: Each year the Forum invites submissions on selected topics in public and private law, legal theory, and law and humanities topics, alternating loosely between public law and humanities subjects in one year, and private law and dispute resolution in the next. For the upcoming 2018 meeting, the topics will cover these areas of the law:

- Administrative Law

- Constitutional Law—theoretical foundations

- Constitutional Law—historical foundations

- Criminal Law

- Critical Legal Studies

- Environmental Law

- Family Law

- Jurisprudence and Philosophy

- Law and Humanities

- Legislation and Statutory Interpretation

- Public International Law

- Race/Gender Studies/Antidiscrimination

- Workplace Law and Social Welfare Policy

A jury of accomplished scholars, not necessarily from Yale, Stanford, or Harvard, will choose the papers to be presented. There is no publication commitment. Yale, Stanford, or Harvard will pay presenters' and commentators' travel expenses, though international flights may be only partially reimbursed.

QUALIFICATIONS: Authors who teach at a U.S. law school in a tenured or tenure-track position and have not have been teaching at either of those ranks for a total of more than seven years are eligible to submit their work. American citizens or permanent residents teaching abroad are also eligible provided that they have held a faculty position or the equivalent, including positions comparable to junior faculty positions in research institutions, for fewer than seven years and that they earned their last degree after 2008. International scholars are not eligible for this forum, but are invited to submit to the Stanford International Junior Faculty Forum. We accept co-authored submissions, but each of the coauthors must be individually eligible to participate in the JFF. Papers that will be published prior to the Forum are not eligible. There is no limit on the number of submissions by any individual author. Junior faculty from Yale, Stanford, and Harvard are not eligible. 


Electronic submissions should be sent to Rebecca Tushnet at, with the subject line “Junior Faculty Forum.” The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2018. Remove all references to the author(s) in the paper. Please include in the text of the email and also as a separate attachment a cover letter listing your name, the title of your paper, your contact email and address through June 2018, and which topic your paper falls under. Each paper may only be considered under one topic. Any questions about the submission procedure should be directed both to Rebecca Tushnet and her assistant, Andrew Matthiesen (

FURTHER INFORMATION: Inquiries concerning the Forum should be sent to Matthew Stephenson ( or Rebecca Tushnet ( at Harvard Law School, Richard Ford ( at Stanford Law School, or Christine Jolls ( or Yair Listokin ( at Yale Law School.

Richard Ford

Christine Jolls

Yair Listokin

Matthew Stephenson

Rebecca Tushnet

January 21, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Margalit: "The Jewish Family: Between Family Law and Contract Law"

Yehezkel Margalit (Netanya Academic College) has recently published a new book The Jewish Family: Between Family Law and Contract Law.  Here is its description:

Traditional Jewish family law has persevered for hundreds of years and rules covering marriage, the raising of children, and divorce are well established; yet pressures from modern society are causing long held views to be re-examined. The Jewish Family: Between Family Law and Contract Law examines the tenets of Jewish family law in the light of new attitudes concerning the role of women, assisted reproduction technologies, and prenuptial agreements. It explores, through interdisciplinary research combining the legal aspects of family law and contract law, how the Jewish family can cope with both old and modern obstacles and challenges. Focusing on the nexus of Jewish family law and contract law to propose how 'freedom of contract' can be part of how family law can be interpreted, The Jewish Family will appeal to practitioners, activists, academic researchers, and laymen readers who are interested in the fields of law, theology, and social science.

Download The Jewish Family Flyer for a 20% discount on the book.


January 21, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cake Bakers & Same-Sex Marriage

From the Washington Examiner:

The Oregon Court of Appeals decided unanimously [recently] to uphold a $135,000 fine against the owners of a local cake shop whose owners declined to use their artistic skills and talents to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding.

Sound familiar? This is a similar case to Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission that was argued before the Supreme Court in early December. In that case, the baker Jack Phillips argues the government cannot compel speech that is against an individual’s sincerely held belief.

In a nation whose people, politics, and especially religious beliefs are sharply divided, the Masterpiece decision will have a critical impact on the preservation of tolerance, free speech, and freedom of belief.

Read more here.

January 21, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For New Law After Toddler's Tragic Death


The death of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews has sparked a kind of advocacy that brought two strangers together: Reena Bana and Shanna Poteet. Both have taken a lot of interest in the Sherin Mathews case.

"With Sherin, we draw the line. It's enough. It's time to make a change," said Reena Bana.

It is a change they would hope to title "Sherin's Law." Mathews was the young adopted child from India found dead in a culvert in Richardson. Her parents, Wesley and Sini Mathews, are now charged and in a Dallas jail.

Read more here.


January 21, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Call For Reform Of UK Adoption Law

From The Guardian:

Adoption has become a “runaway train” impossible for individual social workers to stop, according to an independent inquiry into adoption law in the UK.

The exhaustive two-year inquiry, which canvassed evidence from social workers, adult adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents across the UK, has raised the alarm over practices that favour adoption over alternative care options seeking to help children stay with their birth parents.

The British Association of Social Workers’s (BASW) independent adoption inquiry is the first to investigate the role of social workers in adoption with a focus on ethics and human rights and has called for a significant rethink and review of adoption law.

Read more here. 

January 20, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Digital Divorce

From The Guardian:

Couples seeking “quickie divorces” can make the process even speedier as a result of a new online service launched by the Co-op.

The fixed-fee digital service from Co-op Legal Services enables people to start uncontested divorces online from home, supported by phone-based advice from experienced solicitors.

Read more here. 

January 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

China Redefines "Marital Joint Liability"

From South China Morning Post:

Chinese spouses will from Thursday no longer be held accountable for unreasonable debts racked up by their partners, after lawmakers redefined the concept of marital joint liability.

In a revision to Article 24 – a document that helps courts interpret the Marriage Law – the Supreme People’s Court said on Wednesday that debts will be considered shared liabilities only if both partners sign the original paperwork, or if a non-signatory later approves the borrowing.

The change does not apply to spending or borrowing considered reasonable in a marriage, such as payments made for shelter or food, the court said.

Read more here.

January 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court Asked To Hear Child Custody Case


PHOENIX — Saying biology matters, an Arizona woman is making a last-ditch effort in court to keep from being forced to share custody of her child with her former wife.

Keith Berkshire, attorney for Kimberly McLaughlin, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn last year’s ruling by the state’s high court, which concluded that Suzan McLaughlin had the same right to claim parentage as if she had been Kimberly’s husband.

Read more here.

January 17, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Lack Of Legal Representation In Child-Welfare Proceedings

From The Nation:

In the summer of 2015, Mary, 18, was living with her 1-year-old daughter and mother in DeSoto County, Mississippi, in suburbs just south of Memphis, Tennessee. A family friend had stolen money from them, and Mary and her mother could no longer make rent. With no available shelters in the area, they were soon homeless. Mary and her daughter bounced from place to place while the young mother sent out urgent requests for help on social media. “I would meet anyone who would help me, which was reckless, but…I would do damned near anything to help my daughter,” Mary told me.

Finally, Mary said, she felt she had no choice but to ask child welfare to take her daughter. (Mary’s name has been changed, because Mississippi law requires that information about child-welfare proceedings be kept confidential.)

Mary can’t remember how she got to the child-welfare office or much else about that day: “All I remember is my daughter in her car seat on the table, and saying, ‘Go ahead and take her. I will do whatever I’ve got to do to make sure she’s provided for, even if it’s not me.’”

After that, Mary was allowed to visit her daughter for just two hours every other week. Still, Mary told me, “I was led to believe it would be a pretty quick in-and-out process, a maximum of six months. My main fear—my massive, deep dark fear—was that my daughter would lose the realization that I was her mother.”

Instead of six months, her daughter stayed in the foster-care system for almost two years, even though Mary soon found a job and stable housing. Mary blamed her lack of legal representation for the delay. “If I would have had a lawyer from the beginning, this would have been a helluva lot shorter,” said Mary. “And if I had never gotten my lawyer, I would not have my daughter now.”

About 75 percent of poor parents in Mississippi walk into child-welfare proceedings without legal representation; it’s one of two states—Wisconsin is the other—where a majority of parents do not have a lawyer in these types of cases.

Read more here.

January 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oldham: "A Survey of Lawyers’ Observations About the Principles Governing the Award of Spousal Support Throughout the United States"

J. Thomas Oldham has posted on SSRN A Survey of Lawyers’ Observations About the Principles Governing the Award of Spousal Support Throughout the United States, 51 Family Law Quarterly 1 (2017).  Here is the abstract:

At the beginning of this project, I distributed 5000 questionnaires to family lawyers around the country. I asked the lawyers to respond by estimating the spousal support award, if any, that would result for six hypothetical divorcing couples in their jurisdiction. While the response rate was not great, the responses received suggest that there are three different types of spousal support systems in the U. S. today. In some states, spousal support is rarely awarded, and then only to prevent severe hardship. In others, spousal support is frequently awarded when the spouses’ incomes are substantially different at divorce. In most states, however, it appears that there is no clear spousal support policy, and the award, if any, in any given case is the result of which judge is assigned to hear the matter. In these states, spousal support determinations appear to be arbitrary. I have included as an appendix to my article a summary of the responses.

Some states have responded to this lack of clarity regarding spousal support standards by adopting guidelines. These guidelines attempt to provide more uniformity in terms of award amounts and award duration. To date, they have not attempted to provide guidance regarding when a spousal support award is warranted. In this article, I discuss how spousal support standards could be clarified in those states where there appears to be no clearly accepted policy.

January 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)