Family Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Religious Protection in Adoption

From U.S. News & World Report:

South Dakota joined three other states Friday that have enacted laws giving broad legal protections to faith-based organizations that refuse based on their religious beliefs to place children in certain households.

Before signing the bill, Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard said he was concerned private child-placement agencies acting in the best interest of a child could be subject to a lawsuit when denying placement to someone in a "protected class," such as members of the LGBT community. He hopes the legislation would forestall that.

Before Friday, Daugaard was mum on the measure that supporters say preemptively protects religious adoption and foster care agencies from things like state funding cuts, revoked licenses and denied contracts if South Dakota were to eventually ban discrimination based on sexual orientation as several other states have done.

Libby Skarin, policy director of ACLU South Dakota, said Daugaard's decision shows South Dakotans that he cares about private agencies more than the needs of children. She said the group is exploring legal challenges to the new law and is encouraging kids and adults who feel negative impacts to step forward. 

Read more here.


April 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Nebraska State Supreme Court on Same-Sex Couples Fostering

From CNN:

The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld a decision to strike down a ban on same-sex couples becoming foster parents.

The court compared the ban on its decision to "a sign reading 'Whites Only' on the hiring-office door."
Since 1995, same-sex couples had been barred from becoming licensed foster-care providers in Nebraska.
Read more here.

April 11, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Nonmarital Mothers

From Naomi Cahn (George Washington Law), writing for the Institute for Family Studies:

We know that nonmarital mothers today are more likely to give birth in a cohabiting union than on their own. But what do we know about those unions and the reasons that women become pregnant? Professor Jennifer Barber of the University of Michigan gives us some new answers through the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study at the University of Michigan. Her study sheds a novel light on family formation among unmarried couples—and potentially on the legal and policy debates that underlie these issues.

Professor Barber’s work builds on the well-known Fragile Families and Child-Wellbeing Study, which followed almost 5,000 children born between 1998 and 2000 in large U.S. cities; approximately three-quarters of their parents were unmarried. The Fragile Families research dramatically changed our images of unmarried families. The groundbreaking study showed that contrary to the popular assumptions of the time, the majority of unmarried mothers were in relationships with the fathers of their children at the time of the birth, and the majority of the fathers remained involved with their children for at least a period of time after a break-up with the mother.

This new research from the RDSL provides even more—and very different— information about unmarried mothers. Instead of starting once the children are born, it follows young women before they become pregnant and often before they have entered the relationships that produce the pregnancies. It also includes both women who became pregnant and those who did not, providing a robust basis for comparisons between the two groups.

Read more here.

April 10, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Missouri Rejects Federal Money In Order To Set Up Its Own Abortion Restrictions

From NPR:

A new Missouri law cuts off a line of funding to all organizations that provide abortions in the state, including hospitals.

For years, Missouri has helped low-income women pay for family planning under a Medicaid program called Extended Women's Health Services, which is funded by both the state and the federal governments.

Federal law already prevents Medicaid from reimbursing providers for most abortions. Missouri's new measure rejects $8.3 million in federal funds for the women's health program, allowing the state to block state funds for other family planning services from going to abortion providers.

Other states, including Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Indiana, have tried to exclude abortion providers from Medicaid funds before, but courts have said that would violate a federal law that gives patients the right to choose their health care providers. Missouri hopes to get around that by rejecting the federal money. The rule has not been challenged in court.

Read more here.

April 9, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

State's Controversial Religious Freedom Law Before Appeals Court

From ABC News:

A federal appeals court is hearing arguments about a Mississippi law that would let merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves halted the law before it could take effect last July 1, ruling it unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for LGBT people.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — which handles cases from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — is hearing arguments Monday afternoon about the Mississippi law in Lubbock, Texas.

The law championed and signed Republican Gov. Phil Bryant sought to protect three beliefs: marriage is only between a man and a woman; sex should only take place in such a marriage; and a person's gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.

Read more here.

April 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Story from Lilly for Better Health: Tools to get started and tips on how to be a caregiver

From The Indianapolis Star:

Caregivers juggle a lot of big responsibilities every day. In addition to regular family and household duties, you have the additional challenge of managing the various routines and schedules necessary to care for your sick or disabled loved one. You have appointments to keep, medicines to manage, routines to maintain and your own well-being to ensure. Sometimes you may feel like the little things are slipping through the cracks. There are tools to help you stay on track so you can stay focused and feel in control.

One important thing you can do is create and maintain a comprehensive file of information about the person you are caring for. Consider including the following items in this file:

  • Medical history, including diagnosis, physician contact information, allergies and health history (for example, surgeries and other medical conditions).
  • Insurance information, including private medical insurance, prescription, Medicare/Medicaid, long-term care insurance and dental and vision insurance.
  • Legal documents, including Living Will, durable power of attorney for health care (also known as a health care proxy), power of attorney for finances and contact information for lawyer.
  • Medication list: An up-to-date medication list is an important tool for the family caregiver and doctors. With the number of medications some people take, keeping them straight can easily become overwhelming. Include all the prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements your loved one takes. List the name, how much should be taken, when it should be taken and the reason for taking it. Make multiple copies: one for you to carry; one for your file; one on the refrigerator for paramedics to find in an emergency; and one for the doctor.
  • Doctor’s visit checklist: You may want to go with your loved one to doctor’s appointments. This way, you can work together as members of the health care team and ensure that you both understand the doctor’s treatment decisions. Here is a checklist to help you make the most of your doctor’s visit.

Read more here.

April 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Missing Nottingham mother poses 'risk of harm' to sons, court says

From The Guardian:

A woman suspected of abducting her two young sons poses a risk of harm to them, a family court has said.

Nottingham family court said it had ordered that Dylan Madge, six, and Louis Madge, nine, should be removed from the care of their mother, Samantha Baldwin, on Monday.

The 42-year-old was last seen near Nottingham city centre that day, although a missing persons appeal was launched on Tuesday after she vanished with her sons. On Wednesday, police announced the investigation had become an abduction inquiry.

In a statement Nottingham family court said: “It is assumed that she has abducted Louis and Dylan. The children have now been made wards of court. Miss Baldwin is considered to pose a risk of harm to the children.”

On Friday, Nottinghamshire police’s Supt Rich Fretwell said officers were growing increasingly concerned for the children’s welfare and safety.

Read more here.

April 6, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dozens of families remain at lead-tainted Indiana complex

From The Washington Post:

Dozens of families remained at a lead-contaminated public housing complex in northwest Indiana, despite a Friday target date to move them out so the city can tear down the buildings.

More than 270 families have left East Chicago’s West Calumet Housing Complex, and officials hope to have the remaining 50 or so families out next week. But the delay points up several problems with the evacuation effort such as limited rental options in the largely industrial area, landlords who won’t accept government housing vouchers and some residents’ resistance to being forced from the city.

Lifelong East Chicago resident Tara Adams said she has been seeking a new home for herself, her 19-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter since last summer and has had belongings packed up for months. The temporary housing she has been offered is about 25 miles away, in what she worries is a perilous neighborhood across the state line on Chicago’s South Side.

“I for sure don’t want to move my 19-year-old son into an area where there’s a greater chance for him to get shot,” Adams said. “I don’t want to do that.”

Officials last summer began clearing out the 45-year-old complex of three-story apartment buildings after detailed soil testing found some yards with lead levels more than 70 times the federal safety standard.

Read more here.

April 5, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What is it with judges and women?

From The Guardian:

Following the proliferation of sharia councils, and with them, disturbing reports of systematic discrimination against women by all-male tribunals, the government finally set up an inquiry.

A deeply compromised inquiry, admittedly; one with feeble terms of reference and presided over by interested theological parties, but still, a public acknowledgement that some sharia councils may be working, as the government said in a “discriminatory and unacceptable” way.

Maybe, ultimately, the inquiry could also serve as a warning to other courts whose judges routinely treat women like children or chattels, and subject them to moral lectures; who put them in danger of further domestic violence and deter others from seeking help; who find preposterous excuses for male brutality towards women, and who force wives to stay in miserable marriages.

Read more here.

April 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chicago-Kent Law Review Family Law Symposium

Chicago-Kent Law Review has recently published a fantastic family law symposium issue, consisting of the following papers:



Chicago-Kent Law Review 2017 92 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 3

By Jeffrey A. Parness (Symposium Editor)



Chicago-Kent Law Review 2017 92 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 177

By Jeffrey A. Parness & David A. Saxe



Chicago-Kent Law Review 2017 92 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 55

By Leslie Joan Harris



Chicago-Kent Law Review 2017 92 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 9

By June Carbone & Naomi Cahn



Chicago-Kent Law Review 2017 92 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 87

By Seema Mohapatra



Chicago-Kent Law Review 2017 92 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 105

By Solangel Maldonado



Chicago-Kent Law Review 2017 92 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 135

Katharine K. Baker

April 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Despite kinks in program, nonlawyers successfully providing some legal services in Washington state

From The ABA Journal:

Limited license legal technicians in the state of Washington are succeeding at helping clients who can’t afford a lawyer while staying within their limits as practitioners, a new study has found.

Conducted by the American Bar Foundation and the National Center for State Courts with support from the Public Welfare Foundation, the study (PDF) evaluates Washington’s LLLT program. The program permits nonlawyers who earn an LLLT credential to help clients with lower-level legal tasks without the supervision of a lawyer, as the ABA Journal reported in January of 2015.

Currently, Washington is the only state offering this kind of license, although Utah is working on a similar program for professionals called Paralegal Practitioners. Washington’s first LLLT class took the licensing exam two years ago. All of those LLLTs are licensed in family law; the state of Washington plans to expand training to other practice areas. LLLTs help fill out forms and explain legal procedures to clients. They may not represent their clients in court or in negotiations with opposing parties.

Read more here.

April 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Moral Outrage at Childless Couples

From IUPUI Newsroom:

INDIANAPOLIS -- Data representing individuals from across the United States indicates that U.S. adults are increasingly delaying the decision to have children or forgoing parenthood entirely. Yet evidence suggests that voluntarily child-free people are stigmatized for this decision, according to a study published in the March 2017 edition of Sex Roles: A Journal of Research.

Leslie Ashburn-Nardo, an associate professor of psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, recently investigated this bias against those who choose to not have children.

"What's remarkable about our findings is the moral outrage participants reported feeling toward a stranger who decided to not have children," Ashburn-Nardo said. "Our data suggests that not having children is seen not only as atypical, or surprising, but also as morally wrong."

The findings are consistent with other studies of backlash against people who violate social roles and other stereotypic expectations. When people violate their expected roles, they suffer social sanctions. Given that more and more people in the U.S. are choosing to not have children, this work has far-reaching implications.

Ashburn-Nardo believes these findings offer the first known empirical evidence that parenthood is seen as a moral imperative.

Read more here.

April 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Adoption or Surrogacy for Gay Parents?

From Slate:

When my husband David and I became new parents, we thought it would be fun and perhaps even affirming to get involved with a gay dads group. As far as I could tell, the only regular event was a brunch that took place every few months. That sounded promising, a throwback to idle Sundays before the babies made it all about them. The food was always great—these are gay men, after all. But as it turned out, the event was neither fun nor affirming.

The gatherings mostly took place in wealthy suburban redoubts and were marked by a weird social division between two teams: Surrogacy Dads and Adoptive Dads. Some of this division was to be expected. Each group had war stories to share, and it was natural to break the ice with those who had lived through similar experiences. But after one or two brunches, I came to see that this kind of informal division reflected something much deeper: a philosophical debate about how we should form our families. The annoyingly named “gayby boom” has created a knot of moral questions that are impossible to avoid.

Should is a weird word to use in this context, of course. For gay men especially, bringing children into the family is difficult and challenging no matter which route one chooses. Our first instinct should be support for all families, regardless of what route each of us took to realize our dreams. Both surrogacy and adoption present daunting legal obstacles—even now that marriage equality has been achieved.

As I learned when researching a book I co-authored, surrogacy is a state-by-state legal minefield. Some states won’t recognize these contracts at all, while the law in other states is unsettled. And there is the ever-present danger that the woman carrying the child will try to renege on her commitment. Adoption is hardly more secure. The countries offering this choice to gay men are constantly changing. Domestic adoption can be fraught as well either because birth mothers change their minds, or as in our case of adoption through the child welfare system, because the process has no certain outcome.

Read more here.

April 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Obergefell Applied Retroactively

From the ABA Journal:

A same-sex couple who split up after about 30 years together had a common-law marriage, a South Carolina family law court judge recently ruled.

It might be the first time in a family law court trial that a judge determined Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that validated same-sex marriage, applies retroactively, lawyer David Martin told the The Herald.

Read more here.

March 31, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pet Custody Disputes

From the New York Times:

When couples get divorced, children are not the only ones who can get caught in custody disputes. Fights over other members of the family — beloved pets — can be equally acrimonious.

Courts have traditionally treated pets as personal property in such cases, but that is starting to shift as some state lawmakers and advocacy groups promote the notion that the legal system should act in the best interests of the animals.

Courts have awarded shared custody, visitation and even alimony payments to pet owners, and starting about 15 years ago, more states began allowing people to leave estates or trusts to care for their pets.

One case in San Diego that gained national headlines featured a pointer-greyhound mix named Gigi, who was the focus of a contentious divorce between Dr. Stanley and Linda Perkins.

Read more here.

March 30, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

End of Diamond Engagement Rings

From the Economist:

PEACOCKS strut; bowerbirds build lovenests; spiders gift-wrap flies in silk. Such courtship rituals play an important role in what Charles Darwin called sexual selection: when the female of a species bears most of the costs of reproduction, males use extravagant displays and to demonstrate their "reproductive fitness" and females choose between them. For human males, shards of a crystalline form of carbon often feature. 

Read more here.

March 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Gender Budgeting

From the Economist:

IT IS easy to be cynical about government--and rarely does such cynicism go unrewarded. Take, for instance, policy towards women. Some politicians declare that they value women's unique role, which can be shorthand for keeping married women at home looking after the kids. Others create whole ministries devoted to policies for women, which can be a device for parking women's issues on the periphery of policy where they cannot do any harm. Still others, who may actually mean what they say, pass laws giving women equal opportunities to men. Yet decreeing an end to discrimination is very different from bringing it about.

Amid this tangle of evasion, half-promises and wishful thinking, some policymakers have embraced a technique called gender budgeting. It not only promises to do a lot of good for women, but carries a lesson for advocates of any cause: the way to a government's heart is through its pocket.

Read more here.

March 28, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Saudi Arabian Women

From the Economist:

CAN Saudi Arabia keep its women? Last month’s appointment of women to head two big banks and Tadawul, the kingdom’s stock exchange, offers hope that the path to a fulfilling career is not completely blocked. But the restrictions of Saudi life remain so irksome that covertly, silently, many women are finding ways out.

On family trips abroad, some jump ship. Some, having been sent to Western universities at the government’s expense, postpone their return indefinitely. Others avail themselves of clandestine online services offering marriages of convenience to men willing to whisk them abroad. Iman, an administrator at a private hospital in Riyadh, has found a package deal for $4,000 offering an Australian honeymoon during which she plans to scarper.

Read more here.

March 27, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Same-sex legal groundbreaker case in South Carolina

From The Herald: 

Debra Parks wanted to be treated the same as anybody else by the courts. At 62, she’s disabled, and split from her partner of almost four decades. She filed a lawsuit because she wanted her relationship, which ended last year, to be considered a common law marriage under South Carolina law.

Parks is gay. But until 2015, same-sex marriage was illegal.

“I was in a same-sex relationship for all those years,” Parks said. “We owned a house together. We were a family, even when society didn’t accept it.”

Now, in what legal experts and Parks’ lawyers say is a groundbreaking case for South Carolina, and possibly for other states with common law marriage, a Family Court judge in York County has ruled that Parks and her former partner had a common law marriage under state law. And the state must recognize that their common law marriage has been legal for almost 30 years, the judge ruled.

Read more here.

March 26, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Judges Issues Tri-Custody Agreement

From CNN:

An unconventional family produced a child before becoming tangled in a lengthy custody battle that ended last week when a New York judge awarded shared custody of the boy to his dad and two mothers.

The boy in the case is the biological child of a man and one of his neighbors. Both the man and his wife had a longstanding, intimate relationship with the birth mother, according to court documents.
The father, identified as Michael M., and his wife, Dawn M., had struggled to become pregnant. Dawn M. had suffered a miscarriage before the couple met the neighbor, identified as Audria. The three later began to "engage in intimate relations," the records state.

Read more here.

March 25, 2017 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)