Family Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Indiana Supreme Court Changes Burden of Proof on Child Support Tax Exemptions

From Indianapolis Bar Association:

Prior to January 1, 2016, the Indiana Child Support Guidelines, case law and the Indiana Statute on granting of tax exemptions placed the burden of proof on different parties.

The case law was originally set in the case of Eppler v. Eppler, 837 N.E.2d 167 (Ind. App., 2005, trans. denied 2006), which interpreted the then existing child support guidelines to automatically grant the child tax exemption to the custodial parent unless the court makes a finding based upon evidence presented. This case made it clear that at that time, the burden was on the noncustodial parent to prove that he or she was entitled to the exemption based upon factors set out in the guidelines.

In 2011, the Indiana General Assembly added a provision to the Indiana code addressing tax exemptions. As you can see, the statute was neutral as to who received the exemption and the law required the court to make a finding as to who should receive the exemption. The statute used the same factors but did not presume who would receive the exemption.

IC 31-16-6-1.5 Claiming child for tax purposes; considerations; conditions
Sec. 1.5. (a) A court shall specify in a child support order which parent of a child may claim the child as a dependent for purposes of federal and state taxes.

When the Supreme Court was revisiting the child support guidelines, a committee of the IndyBar of which I was the subcommittee chair pointed out the conflict between the statute, the case law, and the guidelines. The new guidelines now bring the statute and the guidelines into agreement effectively overruling the presumption in the case law and prior guidelines.

The best practice now is to present evidence to show your client should receive the exemption under the guidelines. If the decree or order is silent, then you revert to the federal law.

Read more here.

March 15, 2016 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Untying the Knot Via Your Mobile Phone

From CNBC:

Since mobile apps have revolutionized the dating game, it's no surprise that apps to help you split up would follow.

It's never been easier to call it quits thanks to a slew of simple online offerings that can be accessed from any mobile phone aiming to help couples navigate the divorce process and avoid hefty legal fees along the way.

One start-up, Wevorce, offers a step-by-step "DIY" guide withmediators accessible by videoconferencing starting at $749. Through Separate.us, users can complete, file and serve divorce papers entirely online. That service costs somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000, the company estimated.

Avvo, an established online legal marketplace, also recently launched a complete, uncontested divorce package, which includes a 30-minute phone call, for $995. And other online sites advertise uncontested divorces for even less.

"For better or for worse, technology has made it easier for people to split," said Avvo's general counsel and consumer advocate, Josh King.

Avvo helps users connect with a local lawyer of the customer's choice to complete the paperwork for the dissolution of a marriage. If more help is needed, the lawyer can provide additional counsel for an extra fee. But these packages are not for everyone, King said.

"The critical thing is that you don't have a lot of disagreements or complicated externalities," King said. "These products are designed to cover a wide range of people that have a fairly routine legal problem."

And as these tools that aim to achieve a more efficient — and affordable — divorce gain steam, experts warn that divorces are rarely that simple.

"If they have no assets and no children, you can do one of those divorces, no harm, no foul," said John Slowiaczek, president-elect of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. But far more often, couples have other issues including alimony, child support, retirement accounts, real estate, student loans, investments, taxes, credit cards and so on, he said.

Read more here.

March 14, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Rising Cases of Horrific Abuse Push Valley Children's Hospital to Increase Care

From The Fresno Bee:

Dr. Philip Hyden has seen a lot over nearly 30 years of treating abused children, but nothing like what’s happening to kids in the Central Valley.

“I’ve lived in New York City, I’ve lived in L.A., I’ve lived in Hawaii, I’ve lived in Denver, I’ve lived in Florida and Illinois,” he says, “and I’m telling you that the amount of time I’ve been here and the amount of cases I see per year is bewildering. It’s just overwhelming, what I see.”

And Hyden, who took the helm of The Guilds of Valley Children’s Hospital Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Center in 2010, says he’s seen “everything you can think of.”

“I’ve seen children sold for sex that are less than a year old. I’ve seen children sold for drugs. … I’ve seen kids tortured, tied in garbage bags, deprived of food to where they are actually skeletal, multiple contusions on them like hanger marks and extension cord marks, burns from cigarettes and other objects … burns from hot water and flames.”

These horrors are behind Valley Children’s recently expanded child abuse program. Officials say that of 483,000 reports of suspected child maltreatment made in California in 2013 – the most recent data available – 90,000 came from areas traditionally served by the hospital.

Many victims were previously sent to other facilities before Hyden joined Valley Children’s in 2010. His arrival marked the beginning of a new program with staff solely focused on evaluating and treating abused children. The work is largely funded by a $5 million endowment awarded by guilds that raise money for the hospital. The $5 million goal set in 2009 was reached last year.

The number of abused children seen at Valley Children’s continues to grow. The year before Hyden’s arrival, the hospital saw 159 abused children – 65 of them hospitalized for more severe injuries. Last year, the child abuse prevention and treatment center saw 974 children – 135 requiring hospitalization.

Hyden credits the growth to expanded services, along with a growing awareness of these services, but added that it “doesn’t look like child abuse is decreasing in the Valley at all.”

Read more here.

 

March 13, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fertility Treatment May Not Work As Well For Women With Asthma

From Fox News Health:

Women with asthma who are undergoing fertility treatment may take much longer to conceive than peers without the respiratory disorder, a small Danish study suggests.

Researchers followed 245 women with unexplained infertility who sought treatment to help them conceive. With asthma, half of them took at least 4.6 years to conceive, compared to about 2.7 years without asthma.

Several studies have linked asthma to reproduction-related problems in women, the study team writes in European Respiratory Journal, though the connection is poorly understood.

"Despite subfertility often being seen clinically in asthmatic women, a causal relationship between asthma and subfertility has never been established," lead study author Dr. Elisabeth Juul Gade of Bispebjerg University Hospital in Copenhagen told Reuters Health.

"We showed that asthma has a negative influence on fertility as it increases time to pregnancy and possibly reduces birth rate, especially above 35 years of age," Gade said by email.

While the study doesn't prove asthma causes infertility, the findings suggest that women with asthma should take steps to manage symptoms before trying to conceive and also consider starting their families at a younger age when they may not have as much difficulty getting pregnant, Gade said.

To explore the link between asthma and infertility, Gade and colleagues followed women between ages 23 and 45 who had difficulties getting pregnant, including 96 women with asthma and 149 women without the condition.

 

Read more here.

March 12, 2016 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Supreme Court Reverses Alabama Court that Denied Lesbian Woman's Adoption

From USA Today:

The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously reversed an Alabama court's refusal to recognize a same-sex adoption.

The justices upheld a challenge brought by an Alabama woman after her state's highest court refused to recognize the adoption she and her former lesbian partner were granted in Georgia.

The couple never married and have since split up. But the case presented a test of an issue that crops up occasionally in state and federal courts since the Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage: Can gays and lesbians be denied adoption rights?

The case was brought by "V.L.," as she is identified in court papers, against her former partner "E.L.," who gave birth to three children between 2002-04 while the couple was together. To win adoption rights for V.L., they established temporary residency in Georgia.

Now that they have split, E.L. agreed with the Alabama Supreme Court, which ruled in September that Georgia mistakenly granted V.L. joint custody. E.L.'s lawyers argued that "the Georgia court had no authority under Georgia law to award such an adoption, which is therefore void and not entitled to full faith and credit."

Not so, the Supreme Court ruled. "A state may not disregard the judgment of a sister state because it disagrees with the reasoning underlying the judgment or deems it to be wrong on the merits," its reversal said. Rather, Alabama must give "full faith and credit" to the Georgia court's decision.

The high court previously had blocked the Alabama court's action while considering the case, temporarily restoring V.L.'s visitation rights.

Adoption rights for same-sex couples are among the issues remaining in the wake of the high court's June decision legalizing same-sex marriage. About 30 states grant "second-parent adoptions" to gay and lesbian couples by law or lower court rulings. Such adoptions benefit adults who do not share a biological connection, while ensuring that children have two legal parents — particularly in case one dies or is incapacitated.

Read more here.

March 11, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Rising Influence of "All the Single Ladies"

From CBS News:

More and more women are getting married later in life, if at all, and it is changing "everything about the way the nation works."

That's according to New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister, who explores the rising influence and independence of unmarried women in her new book, "All the Single Ladies."

Between 1890 and 1990, the median age of first marriages for women fluctuated between 20 and 22. That number has now soared to 27. In 1960, 60 percent of young women were married, compared to just 20 percent today, according to the Pew Research Center/U.S. Census Bureau.

Traister says women have historically become "automatically dependent on their husbands," once they've entered marriages.

"I mean our government and our social policies and civil institutions are all built with one kind of society of citizenry pattern in mind - that's the married, still hetero married pair in which you have a male earner and a female domestic laborer - and that's not that way the world works anymore," Traister told "CBS This Morning" Monday.

But Traister says the "new pattern for adult female life" is giving women an "unprecedented level of economics, sexual and social independence that calls for a shift in our social policies, from taxes to housing.

"Even the way the schools let out at three in the afternoon and have big summer vacations - the assumption is there's some number of our population who are going to be home to take care of those children, and the assumption has always been that they're women," Traister said.

The powerful impact of single women also plays out in the world of politics. In 2012, unmarried women made up 23 percent of the electorate and voted for President Obama 67 to 31 over his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.

Read more here.

March 10, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Court Rules Pension Survivor Benefits are Marital Assets

From Indianapolis Bar Association:

The Indiana Court of Appeals in In Re The Marriage of Carr ruled that the survivor benefit that may go to a spouse in a dissolution of marriage is an asset for the purposes of property division and must be included in the marital pot.

In this case, Husband had been in the military for 14 years prior to the parties’ marriage but his pension did not vest until after the marriage.  Husband also had a pension from a private employer.  The parties agreed after the dissolution was filed that Husband would elect to allow Wife to have a survivor benefit in his military pension.  The court applied the coverture fraction in determining the percentage split of the pensions.  Wife contended that since Husband had not vested until the parties were married, the entire military pension should be included in the calculation.  The trial court found that in order for the pension to exist the husband had to have served those 14 years before the marriage and, therefore, it did include the time served before vesting. 

Wife then argued that the survivor benefit should not be considered a marital asset as it depended upon her surviving her husband.  The court rejected this argument and found that while Indiana followed that line of reason previously to exclude any pension from the marital pot, that this reasoning no longer was accepted.  Dan Andrews testified to the value of the survivor benefit as well as the other pension benefits and the Court of Appeals found that the trial court erred by excluding that value of the survivor benefit from the calculations of the distribution and marital pot. 

Read more here.

March 9, 2016 in Property Division | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Adoption Case

From NPR:

The U.S. Supreme Court, without hearing oral argument, has unanimously reversed an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that denied parental rights to a lesbian adoptive mother who had split with her partner. The decision is a direct repudiation of an Alabama Supreme Court decision that refused to recognize a Georgia adoption.

The two women in the case were together for 16 years, and they had three children conceived by assisted reproductive technology — an older daughter, now 13, and boy and girl twins, now 11. The actual names of the parents have not been revealed. They are identified in court documents by the initials V.L. and E.L.

Read more here.

March 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Divorce Lawyer to the Stars

Read a Bloomberg profile of one of Hollywood's most successful divorce attorneys, and watch her interview, here.

March 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Louisiana Still Lacks Laws to Protect Domestic Violence Victims

From The News Star:

The Violence Policy Center ranks Louisiana fourth in the nation for the number of domestic abuse homicides.

Beth Meeks, Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence executive director, said these new laws have potential to protect victims of domestic violence, but failure to implement policies set in decades-old federal acts have left them ineffective.

The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 was the first federal legislation designed specifically for the protection of women in abusive homes. Using years of research, the act proposed some best-practice policies for law enforcement and judges to follow in dealing with batterers.

“Those best practices were never fully implemented in the state of Louisiana,” Meeks said.

Pro-prosecution policies, conducting evidence-based trials rather than trials based on victim testimony and the immediate arrest of abusers were among those strategies. Meeks said these policies were designed to keep abusers and victims separate, as well as give law enforcement and courts more authority in the detainment and prosecution of offenders.

“While domestic violence is still a problem across the nation, those states that have implemented these practices, in the last 20 years, have seen a drastic reduction in domestic homicides, and Louisiana never saw that reduction,” Meeks said.

Read more here.

March 6, 2016 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Women Tell Supreme Court Why Abortion Was Right For Them

From The New York Times:

Amy Brenneman, an actress, wants Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to know about the abortion she had when she was a 21-year-old college junior.

Taking a page from the movement for same-sex marriage, Ms. Brenneman and more than 100 other women have filed several supporting briefs in a major Supreme Court abortion case to be argued on Wednesday. The briefs tell the stories of women who say their abortions allowed them to control their bodies, plan for the future and welcome children into their lives when their careers were established and their personal lives were on solid ground.

The briefs are aimed largely at Justice Kennedy, who holds the crucial vote in abortion cases. They use language and concepts from his four major gay rights decisions, notably his invocation of “equal dignity” in June’s ruling establishing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

“Why has marriage equality gained so much ground, and reproductive justice seems to be losing so much ground?” Ms. Brenneman, known for her roles on “NYPD Blue” and “Judging Amy,” said in an interview. Partly, she said, because gay couples have come out of the shadows but many women still believe abortions to be shameful secrets.

The briefs seek to counter that, as well as what some people saw as a streak of uninformed paternalism in a 2007 majority opinion in which Justice Kennedy said many women regretted their decisions to have abortions and experienced depression and plunging self-esteem

But Allan E. Parker Jr., a lawyer with the anti-abortion group the Justice Foundation, said the women’s briefs may only alienate Justice Kennedy.

“The abortion industry is trying to make it sound like abortion is a joyful experience,” he said. “But even women who say it was necessary say it was not joyful. It is a grief and a blackness, and it changes you.”

 

Read more here.

March 5, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 4, 2016

5 Things You Need To Do After Getting A Divorce

From Forbes:

No one plans to get divorced. But it does happen… and when it does, the understandable emotional upheaval can make it hard to focus on dealing with practical matters.

And that’s too bad, because when your marriage ends you should immediately take steps to ensure your interests are protected — and your estate plan reflects your new marital status.

What should you change?  In two words, almost everything.

Once your divorce is final – meaning the divorce decree has been approved and a judgment rendered – as a start you should review and revise, if necessary, the following legal and estate planning documents:

    1. Trusts
    2. Powers of Attorney (property, healthcare, HIPAA, etc)
    3. Will (if you have one)
    4. Life insurance policies
    5. Retirement accounts

What happens if you don’t make changes to the above?

As one example, say your ex-spouse remains the beneficiary of your life insurance policy and you pass away. In that case the proceeds will go to your ex-spouse instead of, say, to your children.  That may be what you intend – but then again, it probably is not.

Read more here.

March 4, 2016 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Unpaid Labor

From Quartz:

In their annual letter laying out their philanthropic priorities and philosophies, Bill and Melinda Gates wrote about two superpowers they wish they (and everyone else) had: more energy and more time. Melinda Gates’ part of the letter focused on the second one, and in particular its relevance to women the world over.

As the wife of Microsoft’s cofounder noted, it’s women who tend to take on most of life’s unpaid work, or all the work that is not formally acknowledged by a society. Most of it happens at home—it’s child-rearing, cooking, cleaning, elder care—and its existence means that women, globally, perform an average of 4.5 hours or more of free work every day.

Even in North America, where the disparity between the unpaid work undertaken by women and by men is the world’s lowest, women do nearly twice as much as men—which plays a significant role in maintaining gender inequality. As Melinda Gates wrote in her portion of the letter, a lot has changed and is changing still, yet there is a real need for things to change further.

Read more, and see the video, here.

March 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Single Parents in China

From the Economist:

AFTER more than three decades of often brutal interference by the government in citizens’ reproductive choices, it seemed something of a breakthrough when, in October, it decided to allow all couples to have two children. Previously, many had been limited to just one. Last month there was a further concession: children born in violation of the erstwhile rules would be given the registration document that is needed for everything from getting a place at school to opening a bank account. For children born out of wedlock, however, the nightmare of bureaucratic non-recognition persists. Attitudes to sex have been changing fast in China, but not the taboo surrounding extramarital births.

The government imposes stringent penalties on the very few unmarried women brave enough to have children. Giving birth requires permission from family-planning authorities. They will not give it without proof of marriage. Violators usually have to pay the equivalent of several years’ working-class income.

Read more here.

March 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why More Americans Don't Get IVF Treatments

From Forbes:

Back when I worked as a reproductive endocrinologist (“RE,” “IVF doc”) I filled my days with the (literally) microscopic observations, decisions and details of helping my patients have healthy babies. I spent much less time thinking about the IVF industry as a whole, its business direction, whether or not it was as a whole run efficiently. We saw patients seven days a week, started ultrasound scans at 6AM and kind of assumed that we and our colleagues were effective stewards of our little corner of the healthcare world.

12 years and one career later, I spend all of my time studying industries, identifying inefficiencies and passing judgment on solutions, investing in those that make sense (and sometimes investing on the likelihood of failure of those that don’t.) And as much as I still respect and admire the work of the RE’s, nurses, scientists and embryologists that do IVF now, I think that the big picture can be–and should be–better.

Let’s start with some basic data. Number of U.S. infertility patients: over 7 million. Number of IVF transfers in a year: less than 200,000.

That’s one in 35 infertility patients.

Not every patient with infertility needs IVF, but to this ex-RE, one in 35 seems way too low. It amounts to approximately one IVF cycle for every 1,800 people in the United States.

To compare, look outside the U.S. Other countries do a lot more. The U.K. does one cycle for every 1,000 people. Spain does one cycle for every 700 people, Japan about one in 500, Australia about one in 400, Israel one in 200, about nine times what we do per capita.

What’s behind these huge differences? Most likely a combination of factors: cultural attitudes towards family size and at what age to start a family, population genetics, variations country to country in healthcare spending. Is there a much higher prevalence of infertility in every country outside the U.S.? Birth rates are declining in most parts of the world, but little evidence exists that any one medically based variable separates the United States’ prevalence from the rest of the world.

Read more here.

March 1, 2016 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Massachusetts Lawmakers Consider Changes to Alimony Law

From Fox Boston:

Just four years after the state passed a sweeping alimony reform law, a new alimony bill was filed at the Massachusetts Statehouse to fix some of the confusion and problems that have arisen

In March 2012, following a year long investigation by FOX25 into how alimony was handled in the state, legislators unanimously passed a new law to reform the system.

The purpose of the law was to make alimony need based and end the practice of alimony for life.  It was said to be a model for the country.

Chester Chin, from Turner Falls, was one of the first to seek relief from the bill in 2012.

The retired teacher hoped a judge would put an end to his payments based on his financial situation compared to that of his ex-wife’s.

“Over $800 a month is going in that direction,” He said. “When I read the law, I said ‘well, there's a chance to get my life back on track.’”

Chin’s case went all the way to the state’s highest court, and after legal fees topped $12,000 the alimony payments were upheld.

“To have our case dismissed and really rejected it was just mind blowing to this day I can't understand how it happened," Lisa Chin, Chester's current wife, said.

Steve Hitner, President of Massachusetts Alimony Reform, helped draft the 2012 bill and the new version.

Read more here.

February 29, 2016 in Maintenance (alimony) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

FLST Conference

We would like to announce the Ninth Annual Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference (FLST), which will take place this year on Wednesday June 1, 2016 at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana. As in previous years, the conference will provide an opportunity for us to share scholarship, pool our knowledge on teaching issues, talk about our field and professional development, and get to know one another. The FLST Conference was formerly known as the Emerging Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference but since last year has been opened up to all family law scholars and teachers, including prospective, junior, and senior faculty.

The FLST Conference will run for one day only, concluding with a dinner in the evening. Loyola University New Orleans College of Law has generously offered us space to meet as well as breakfast and lunch for conference participants. There will be no registration fee for the FLST Conference, but you must secure your own funding for hotel, transportation, and the conference dinner.

In order to maintain a more intimate, safe space where there is an opportunity for each participant to present his or her work, we are continuing our practice of keeping the conference small. Space is limited to forty-five (45) participants (selected purely on a first-come, first-served basis), so please register as soon as possible, but no later than Tuesday, March 15, 2016. We will keep a waiting list so that if anyone cancels, we will invite people on the waiting list to attend the conference. To sign up for the 2016 FLST Conference, please send an email to familylawsatc@gmail.com

If you have questions about registering for the 2016 conference, please contact Seema Mohapatra at SMohapatra@barry.edu or Allison Tait at atait@richmond.edu. If you have any other general questions, please feel free to contact any of us on the planning committee.

We are very excited about this conference. We look forward to hearing from you and hope to see you in New Orleans in June!

Warm regards,

Sarah Katz
Elizabeth MacDowell
Seema Mohapatra
Ed Stein
Gregg Strauss 
Allison Tait
Jessica Dixon Weaver

February 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Supreme Court Abortion Case Seen As A Turning Point for Clinics

From The New York Times:

About 20 women came to the abortion clinic here on a recent morning, hurrying past the shouting protesters as volunteer escorts held up umbrellas to shield their faces.

Inside the Reproductive Health Services clinic was Dr. Willie Parker, an Alabama native and one of a few physicians willing to face the professional shunning and the personal threats that come with being an abortion doctor in the conservative Deep South. He travels constantly among three different cities, two in Alabama and one in Mississippi, to provide a service that no local doctors will.

Despite being an experienced, board-certified physician, Dr. Parker, 53, said he had been unable to get the admitting privileges to local hospitals that Alabama and Mississippi have tried to require of abortion doctors. Because federal courts have temporarily blocked those requirements here and across the state line in Mississippi, Dr. Parker continues to practice, and the clinics that rely on him are still open.

But the future of this clinic and many others, across the South and much of the country, could be at stake this spring as the Supreme Court takes up what both sides in the abortion debate describe as a landmark case. While the death of Justice Antonin Scalia has added new considerations, the court’s decision in the case, which involves a Texas law, could shape abortion rules for years to come.

Highlighting the wider stakes, on Wednesday the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, overruling a lower court, said a Texas-style admitting-privileges law in Louisiana that is currently blocked should take immediate effect — which is likely to force three of the state’s four abortion clinics to close. Lawyers for the clinics said they would file an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court within days, arguing that the law should continue to be blocked while the justices consider whether such laws are constitutional.

On March 2, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the challenge to the Texas law, which requires abortion doctors to be affiliated with nearby hospitals and also limits abortion to ambulatory surgical centers. Abortion opponents say such measures are needed to protect women, but major medical groups say they will not enhance patient safety and will only reduce women’s access to abortion.

Overruling a lower court’s injunction, the Fifth Circuit appeals court allowed the Texas admitting-privilege rule to take effect throughout the state in 2013, immediately shuttering about half of what had been more than 40 abortion clinics, although exceptions were later granted for geographically isolated clinics in McAllen and El Paso. The second requirement, mandating costly surgical center facilities, has been temporarily stayed by the Supreme Court, but it would force still more reductions if upheld.

At stake in the case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, is not only the future of abortion access in Texas and in the nine other states that, like Alabama and Louisiana, have adopted similar physician rules. It could also affect dozens of other regulations of disputed medical value that have been adopted by numerous states, including limits on nonsurgical drug-induced abortions, mandated building standards for clinics and two-day or three-day waiting periods.

Read more here.

February 27, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Reporting Error Inflates Maryland Child Abuse Cases

From The Baltimore Sun:

A recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services included a startling statistic: The number of abused or neglected children in Maryland in 2014 had climbed 27 percent, the second-sharpest increase in the nation.

But state officials say that the figure was inflated because of a reporting error. It turns out that the number of cases depends on how a state defines a victim.

The federal government has been gathering state-level child abuse and neglect data for more than two decades, tracking the time it takes for Child Protective Services to respond to a report of child abuse, for instance, and the number of cases that are substantiated after an investigation.

The most recent installment of that data, which was released in late January and covers 2014, identified 15,800 children in Maryland who were victims of abuse or neglect — up from just over 12,000 cases the year before. Only Massachusetts had a larger year-over-year increase in abuse cases.

But officials at the Maryland Department of Human Resources said the federal number should not include children who are assisted through a new effort to segregate "low-risk" cases and work with those families to improve the situation at home rather than conduct a formal investigation.

That effort, known as "alternative response," was fully implemented in Maryland in 2014.

"We have determined that Maryland should not have counted any of the children receiving alternative response as victims," DHR spokeswoman Paula Tolson said in a statement. "Maryland therefore will be resubmitting 2014 data to correct this error."

The alternative response approach is designed to lessen the adversarial relationship between families and caseworkers. While many child advocates regard it as a best practice, some critics question whether the two-track system does enough to keep children safe.

Read more here.

February 26, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Oklahoma's New Adoption Bill Sparks Controversy

From AOL News:

A bill, passed on to the house floor Tuesday, would require the state to do business with child welfare and adoption agencies - even if they turn down prospective parents because their religious beliefs or morals don't align.

Opponents of the bill said it opens the door for agencies to turn away same-sex or unmarried couples that are looking to adopt children.

"I think [the bill] is a huge step backwards," said Tamera Maresh-Carver, who adopted a son with her now-wife eight years ago. "We look at it and we think: there are families like us that have the ability to give a kid a home. And, we provide a really loving home, and you have kids who really need a home, and it seems like we get in our own way a whole lot of times."

Her wife, Chere Carver, can remember the trouble the couple went through trying to adopt their son, traveling six hours to find a court that would grant the adoption.

Now, she and her wife fear children will be the victims of what they call a discriminatory bill, particularly concerning as they consider adopting another child.

"I think most people who work with the children in the system who need a home are there for the best interest of the child," said Maresh-Carver. "This would be just a huge blow to families across the board."
But, the bill's author tells NewsChannel 4 she wrote the bill to be inclusive,not exclusive.

Rep. Sally Kern (R-Bethany) said the point is to ensure religious-based organizations continue to provide adoption services in the state.

Read more here.

February 25, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)