Family Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Millennials' Views on Sex

From US News:

Millennials aren't pairing off with as many sex partners as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, but they're more accepting of premarital sex and same-sex relationships.

That's the conclusion of a new review that charted Americans' evolving views on sex, relationships and behavior.

"We found a really profound shift in sexual attitudes and behavior," said study lead author Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University. "In the 1970s, it was much more common to say that sex before marriage was wrong or sometimes wrong. And it was by far the majority view to say sex between two adults of the same sex was wrong.

"That has changed a huge amount," she added.

Read more here.

June 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Alimony in Florida

From Benzinga:

After five years of wrestling with the issue, Florida lawmakers have proposed a bill, which has gained the support of the Florida Bar, offering judges guidelines for how much alimony to award. However, due to a budget impasse, the Florida Legislature's annual session expired on May 1, leaving the alimony reform in limbo and finished for 2015.

The guidelines are based on the length of a marriage and the difference in income between the two parties involved. If passed next year, the bill, which could eliminate permanent alimony, will also allow judges to make exceptions in cases, wherein a lengthy marriage was dissolved and one party has been unemployed for years, making it difficult to resurrect their career.

Read more here.

June 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Military Child Custody Law

From Lansing State Journal:

Bills that would protect child custody rights for military parents, including two pushed by two Greater Lansing lawmakers, have been signed into law.

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed House Bill 4071, sponsored by state Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, Senate Bill 9, sponsored by state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and HB 4482, sponsored by state Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township. Collectively, the bills forbid judges from changing parental custody rights if one of the parents requests a stay under the federal Service members Civil Relief Act, which protects active-duty military personnel who can’t make a court hearing because of their military service. The ban would not apply if child welfare is at stake.

The bills were inspired by an Adrian judge who last year held a U.S. Navy petty officer in contempt of court for missing a child custody hearing while he was serving aboard a submarine in the Pacific Ocean.

Read more here.

June 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Murphy & Singer: "Divorced from Reality: Rethinking Family Dispute Resolution"

Jane Murphy (University of Baltimore School of Law ) and Jana Singer (University of Maryland Carey School of Law) have recently published Divorced from Reality: Rethinking Family Dispute Resolution (NYU Press 2015). The book is described by the authors:

Over the past thirty years, there has been a dramatic shift in the way the legal system approaches and resolves family disputes. This shift has replaced the law-oriented and judge-focused adversary model with a more collaborative and interdisciplinary regime that attempts to resolve both legal and non-legal issues. At the same time, American families have changed dramatically. Divorce rates have slowed, while the number of children born and raised outside of marriage has increased sharply. Grandparents, same sex partners and others considered third parties under the law are raising children.  As a result, the families who seek legal dispute resolution have become more diverse and their legal situations more complex.  Divorced from Reality argues that the current “problem solving” model fails to address the realities of today’s families. The authors suggest that while today’s dispute resolution regime may represent an improvement over its more adversary predecessor, it is built largely around the model of a divorcing nuclear family with lawyers representing all parties—a model that fits poorly with the realities of today’s disputing families. To serve the families it is meant to help, the legal system must rethink its reliance on courts and must adapt and reshape itself.

Order the book here.


June 21, 2015 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

New York Legislation on Pregnant Women & Health Care

From Wall Street Journal:

New York is poised to become the first state to allow women who become pregnant to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act – even after the open-enrollment period has passed.

Legislation establishing a pregnancy as a so-called qualifying event that enables women to enroll in ACA health coverage at any time passed the New York legislature on Wednesday, and was sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

Dani Lever,  a spokeswoman for the governor, said the bill is under review.

“Legislatures will be under tremendous pressure to follow New York,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “We can’t wait for the federal government to act. The fact New York did this his will go a long way of changing the law in many states.”

He said New York will reach out to other state legislatures in states that run their own exchange to inform them of the need to take similar steps.

Read more here.

June 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kerry v. Din U.S. Supreme Court Decision

From US News:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday against strengthening marriage rights for binational couples who wish to live together in the United States.

Justices found in Kerry v. Din that naturalized U.S. citizen Fauzia Din cannot force greater explanation about or overturn in court the rejection of her Afghan husband Kanishka Berashk’s visa application.

The couple married in 2006. A year later, Din became an American citizen and Berashk requested a U.S. visa to join her. But his prior work in the Taliban-controlled government of Afghanistan apparently derailed the plan.

U.S. consular officials in Pakistan rejected his visa request, citing a broad terrorism-related statute.

The court split three ways, with a three-vote plurality led by Justice Antonin Scalia finding no “liberty interest” entitling Din to due process and the right to challenge the rejection on her husband’s behalf.

"Because Fauzia Din was not deprived of 'life, liberty, or property' when the Government denied Kanishka Berashk admission to the United States, there is no process due to her under the Constitution," Scalia wrote. "To the extent that she received any explanation for the Government’s decision, this was more than the Due Process Clause required."

A more restrained concurrence from Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito found the curt visa rejection satisfied any due process requirement and that it was unnecessary to answer the constitutional question.

Justice Stephen Breyer, representing the four more liberal judges and agreeing with an earlier appeals court ruling, likened the case to other marriage-related issues handled by the court, and wrote Din was entitled to at least a more specific explanation for why the visa was denied.

Read more here.

June 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Family Separation and the Children's Voice in the UK

From Family Law: 

Family lawyers and mediators across the country are joining forces with UK charity Kids in the Middle (KITM) to offer valuable support to children experiencing a family break-up.

Featuring a new and expanded website and an extensive national publicity drive, the initiative, in partnership with UK family lawyers and mediators, is designed to create a much expanded and more effective response to the needs and concerns of children caught up in family breakdown.

Duncan Fisher, who is directing the Kids in the Middle campaign, says:

'Support for children and young people in separating families is persistently overlooked in favour of support for parents. The gap between the rhetoric about the importance of children and young people and the reality of their marginalisation is unacceptably wide and our charity has teamed up with a group of leading family lawyers and mediators to redress the balance.'

There are 100,000 children involved in divorce every year in the UK and the majority of children experiencing family separation say they don’t get listened to.

Read more here.

June 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 19, 2015

New Study on Working Moms

From CNN:

Daughters of working mothers grow up to be more successful in the workplace than their peers. They earn more and are more likely to be bosses, according to new findings from a Harvard Business School study.

While daughters see the biggest tangible financial gains, sons of working moms are more likely to grow up contributing to the childcare and household chores.

All over the world, children of working mothers are less likely to stick to traditional roles of male breadwinners and female homemakers.

According to new research by Harvard professor Kathleen McGinn, children under 14 who were exposed to mothers who worked -- either part-time or full-time -- for at least a year grow up to hold more egalitarian gender views as adults.

Read more here.

June 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Child Support? There's an App for That

From Forbes:

Anecdotally, Atwood knew that untold numbers of other unmarried parents faced the same stress. Research told her that 55 million parents live apart, and while 16 million go through the state to facilitate child support payments, that system does not usually handle miscellaneous expenses that are typically shared, like extracurricular actives, occasional babysitting and medical care. “Even in cases where the state grants a parent back pay for these expenses dating back years, often there are no receipts to prove it,” she says.

So Atwood created an app to solve that problem. SupportPay serves as a neutral, third-party facilitator through which parents can request, pay, track and document all child support and shared expenses. The service has a free version, and for $9.99 monthly (starting in July), premium members can track and export their payment histories.

Read more here.

June 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Child Support Laws and How They Actually Work

From Deseret News:

The public views court-ordered formulas calculating child support in the United States and England to be unfair, according to a study released Monday that researchers hope will be valuable information for policymakers dealing with family law issues.

Although child support laws in the two nations differ, the study, published by the Child and Family Blog, found that respondents from the U.S. and England have similar personal views on what is fair in calculating child support paid by noncustodial parents.

The research ultimately found that the public believes child support should be adjusted higher or lower based on the mother's income (assuming she is the custodial parent caring for the children). In some states, child support is based solely on the noncustodial parent's income, while in others both incomes are used in the calculation with an emphasis on the noncustodial parent's income. Each state has a set formula for judges to use in child support cases.

Read more here.

June 17, 2015 in Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cheating on a DNA Test

BIRMINGHAM, U.K. --In a scheme to avoid paying child support, a father fooled the court and doctors by sending another man -- who looked just like him -- to take a paternity test in his place.

Thomas Kenny, 25, was in a long-term relationship when he had a "fling" with another woman who became pregnant sometime in late 2012, The Birmingham Mail reported. Already having one child and another on the way with his long-term girlfriend, the Birmingham Crown Court argued that Kenny tried to dodge paying child support by asking his fling for an abortion, which she declined.

After the child was born, Kenny refused to pay child support and argued that he was not the father. On June 24, 2013 Kenny was ordered by the Child Support Agency to give a DNA sample to prove or disprove his paternity.

That's when, the court alleges, Kenny sent a lookalike to take the test for him.

Read more here.


June 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chicago Frozen Embryo Case

From the New York Times:

In a closely watched, long-running dispute over who gets custody of frozen embryos when the man and woman who created them disagree, an appeals court in Chicago ruled 2 to 1 on Friday that a woman whose fertility was destroyed by cancer treatment could use embryos she created with her ex-boyfriend, over his objections.

The court ruled that there had been an oral contract between the parties — Karla Dunston and Jacob Szafranski. “Karla asked if he would ‘be willing to provide sperm to make pre-embryos with her,’ ” the court wrote. “He responded, ‘Yes,’ telling Karla that he wanted to help her have a child.”

Read more here.

Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

June 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Open Adoption from 1965 Being Investigated

From St Louis Public Radio:

As a well-known gospel singer continues to search for answers as to how and why her daughter was taken from her at birth, a newly opened adoption record holds some clues for the ongoing investigation.  

Zella Jackson Price contends that she gave birth to a baby girl in 1965 at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in north St. Louis, where she was told the infant died. But the child, now named Melanie Gilmore, was instead placed in foster care. Almost fifty years later, Gilmore's children contacted Price through Facebook, and the two were reunited in a Youtube video that went viral.

After petitioning the state for records of adoption and birth, Price and Gilmore’s attorney, Albert Watkins,  received, and then released a 103-page file to the public on Friday. The records include Gilmore’s birth certificate, which has a signature for Price that Watkins believes was forged. The certificate lists Gilmore’s place of birth as City Hospital #1, which Price says is incorrect. Homer G. Phillips was City Hospital #2.

Read more here.

June 16, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Child Custody Laws in India

From Hindustan Times:

The urgent need to resolve child custody cases have prompted the law commission to recommend a root-and-branch change in the way courts resolve child custody battles.

In its report ‘Reforms in Guardianship and Custody Laws in India’, which it submitted to the law ministry on May 23, the commission says that the child’s welfare must be paramount in any decision relating to custody. It also lays out a framework - unprecedented in India - for awarding joint custody of the child whenever it is possible.

As the present law lacks the concept of shared parenting, many cases are reduced to ugly fights for over the sole custody of the child or children. Cases generally conclude when the court names one of the parties as the primary guardian, leaving the other with weekly or fortnightly visitation rights.

And while sole custody is a necessity in many cases, the law presently offers no options for shared custody, even in cases where it is possible and desirable for the child’s best interests. Instead, the all-or-nothing fight for primary custody can often aggravate an already tangled set of circumstances. Experts HT spoke to said courts have had to intervene in many cases to stop estranged couples from using their children to browbeat each other.

Read more here.

June 15, 2015 in Custody (parenting plans), Visitation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ugandan Families Tricked into Adoption

From Catholic Online:

Ugandan families have been bribed, tricked or coerced into giving up their children to U.S. citizens and other foreigners for adoption, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation has found.

Leaked documents, court data, and a series of exclusive interviews with officials, whistleblowers, victims and prospective adoptive parents has revealed a culture of corruption in which children's birth histories are at times manipulated to make them appear as orphans when they are not, a lucrative industry in which lawyers acting on behalf of foreign applicants receive large payments, a mushrooming network of unregistered childcare institutions through which children are primed for adoption, and an absence of reliable court data to counteract allegations of negligence or fraud by probation officers involved in the adoption process.

Read more here.

June 14, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Insurance Payments Used to Pay Overdue Child Support

From Monterey County Herald:

California lawmakers are advancing a bill that would intercept more insurance payments and use them to pay beneficiaries' overdue child support.

About a quarter of insurance companies now voluntarily participate in the program. It collects about $17 million annually from insurance claims, settlements and awards that would otherwise go to individuals who owe child support.

The measure approved by the state Senate on Thursday would make insurance companies' participation mandatory. Sen. Connie Leyva, a Democrat from Chino, says that will greatly increase payments.

SB585 was sought by Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. The bill lets the departments of Insurance and Child Support Services cooperate to match those who owe child support with those set to receive insurance payouts.

Read more here.

June 13, 2015 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Open Adoptions in Nebraska

From Lincoln Journal Star:

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday affirmed a lower court's decision to return a baby to his biological parents after spending more than a year with his adoptive parents.

The case involving two Richardson County couples raises questions about the lack of legal communication and visitation safeguards in so-called open adoptions in Nebraska and could lead to more closed, private adoptions, some family lawyers said Friday.

Private and agency adoptions have increasingly been more open in recent years, meaning more communication about and contact among biological parents and the children they give up for adoption, lawyers said.

The Richardson County case underscores the importance that biological parents understand that when they finalize an adoption in Nebraska they legally surrender their parental rights, other lawyers said.

Jason and Rebecca Wissmann, who lost the baby boy they adopted, hope lawmakers will fix the open adoption problem and spare others the devastation they experienced, their attorney said.

Read more here.

June 12, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1)

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)