Monday, January 20, 2014

Interview with BU Law Professor McClain

From  Rev. Amy Ziettlow, writing for the Huffington Post:

As legalization of same-sex marriage spreads to one-third of states including the recent vote in New Mexico and ruling in Utah and in Oklahoma, our understanding of marriage in general expands and thus our understanding of parenthood and family potentially expand as well. 

As part of the Institute for American Values' "New Marriage Conversation," both David Blankenhorn and I interviewed Linda McClain, Boston University law professor, known for her work in family law and feminist legal theory. In these conversations, we explore how the place of marriage, class, and parenthood are intricately intertwined in society. While the collective conversation in recent years has been dominated by the marriage equality debate (and rightly so), the time to consider the nuances of how marriage rights and responsibilities relate to a growing class divide and the journey to and in parenthood is now. You can watch the full interview below or click on the podcast link for an edited, 50-minute version.

Read more, and see the interview, here.


January 20, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Introducing the Weekend Divorce

From the Chicago Tribune:

Breaking up is hard to do—even when both husband and wife are ready to bring their marriage to an end. As a result, divorce can often be financially devastating and time consuming.

Against that backdrop, attorneys Sandra Young and Brian Garvey have developed an innovative antidote that is believed to be the first of its kind anywhere: “The Weekend Divorce.”

A centerpiece of their streamlined approach is booking a hotel conference room for two days and negotiating every detail of the divorce agreement and signing all documents by the time the couple leaves on Sunday. Both attorneys assess a flat fee for their services.

Read more here.


January 18, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 17, 2014

New Documentary on Divorce


A new documentary is opening this week in Atlanta and 15 other cities around the nation called 'Divorce Corp.' The film, narrated by television psychotherapist Dr. Drew Pinsky, presents information about how the industry of divorce has destroyed families and individuals across the nation.

Read more here.


January 17, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More Parents Cohabitating

From Washington Post:

No longer taboo, living together has become a more common arrangement for U.S. couples who become pregnant while dating.

Soon-to-be-released government figures show a major cultural shift since the days of “shotgun weddings” aimed at avoiding family embarrassment. With marriage on the decline, the shift is helping redefine the traditional notion of family.

Read more here.


January 16, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Widiss: "Leveling Up after DOMA"

Deborah A. Widiss (Indiana University Maurer School of Law) has posted "Leveling Up after DOMA", 89 Indiana Law Journal__ (2014) (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Even though the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act precluding federal recognition of same-sex marriages has been held unconstitutional, more than half of the nation’s same-sex couples remain ineligible for full federal marriage rights because they live in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. The common response to this problem is to urge Congress to enact a uniform “place of celebration” rule under which any lawful marriage would be recognized as valid for federal purposes, and many federal agencies have adopted this rule in implementing discrete statutes that reference marriage. This approach mitigates the inequity of current policy, but it has significant weaknesses that have not been adequately considered. It requires same-sex couples to travel out-of-state — and often very significant distances — to marry simply to claim federal benefits, imposing an unfair burden on same-sex couples and one which will likely further exacerbate class-based variation in marriage rates. And it increases the risk that some same-sex couples will become trapped in unwanted marriages, because jurisdictional rules typically require couples divorce in their home state and many states refuse to recognize same-sex marriages even to dissolve them.

This invited essay challenges the underlying assumption that state-licensed marriages should continue to be the exclusive mechanism for accessing core federal rights. It advocates instead creation of a federal domestic partner or “marriage” registry available to (at least) same-sex couples wherever they live. This would effectively “level up” federal marriage policy to address the discrimination against same-sex couples left in DOMA’s wake. It also suggests that a federal domestic partner registry could be structured to make at least some federal marriage rights more generally available to unmarried same-sex and different-sex couples who meet specific criteria. Even if, at some point, same-sex couples are permitted to marry in all states and the problem of derivative federal discrimination disappears, broader trends suggest that cohabitation and non-marital childbearing rates will continue to rise. A domestic partner registry could be a vehicle for more fairly and effectively distributing government benefits, rights, and obligations among diverse family forms.




January 15, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Correcting Birth Certificates

From the

Wyoming's U.S. senators are co-sponsoring legislation that would help parents of adopted children from abroad correct errors on their children's birth certificates.

Read more here.


January 14, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 13, 2014


From Judith Daar, writing for Virtual Mentor of the American Medical Association:

Family formation through assisted reproductive technologies (ART) accounts for 3 of every 100 children born in the United States today [1-3]. The demographic of ART-conceived children far exceeds the number of parent-child relationships formed through neonatal adoption, offering opportunities for parenthood that would have been elusive a generation ago. While the majority of ART usage involves couples undergoing in vitro fertilization using their own gametes—known as first-party assisted reproduction—a growing percentage of ART use involves third-party collaborators who assist in an individual’s or couple’s reproductive plan. These third party collaborators participate as sperm donors, egg donors, and gestational carriers; they are typically unrelated to the intended parent or parents and receive compensation for providing gametes or gestational services to the sponsoring prospective parent(s). The vast majority of third-party assisted reproduction scenarios proceed without complication or incident, but occasional mishaps do occur and are worthy of analysis [4].

In contrast to natural reproduction which enjoys the privacy and security of a closed two-party relationship, assisted conception is vulnerable to misconduct by the necessary presence of third parties in the reproductive equation. Ideally, all potential conduct attendant to a collaborative reproduction arrangement should be addressed by a written preconception agreement in which all parties participate voluntarily, transparently, and in good faith. In the event such an agreement is absent, deficient, or breached, intended parents, donors, surrogates, and physicians are best served by understanding their duties and the possible conflicts generated by each scenario. In a clinical practice that combines profound intimacy with arm’s-length negotiated transactions, incidents of malfeasance can cause devastating emotional, psychological, physical, and financial harms. I explore these potential harms through three paradigmatic cases—the deceitful donor, the disobedient surrogate, and the divorcing intended parents.

Read more here.


January 13, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Light Regulation of Donation Process

From Naomi Cahn & Jennifer Collins, writing for Virtual Mentor of the American Medical Association:

Jessica saw the ads on her college campus: egg donor wanted, high SAT scores, willing to pay, contact Egg Donors R Us. She was a financially struggling college junior, and the idea of helping people have children appealed to her. She called Egg Donors R Us and, after the receptionist asked her a few questions, she was invited to come to the clinic and fill out a questionnaire. It asked, for example, if she had dimples and freckles but not if she understood the medical procedures or risks involved in egg donation. She was given a provisional acceptance, had an interview with a nurse and a psychological consultant, and then had blood drawn for final eligibility checks.

A few months later, she was matched with a recipient and finally given the clinic’s informed consent form. She barely looked at it before signing; she was excited to begin the process that would help another woman as well as pay her tuition bills.

So just what did Jessica sign? What did it tell her? What legal requirements surround the informed consent form for donating eggs and sperm? Although approximately 12 percent of all assisted reproductive cycles in the United States (more than 18,000 cycles each year) involve donor eggs, and countless pregnancies are achieved every year using donor sperm, the donation process is only lightly regulated, particularly in the realm of informed consent.

Read more here.


January 11, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 10, 2014

"Right of First Refusal" IL

A “right of first refusal” provision in Illinois that requires one parent to seek child care from the other instead of using a third party is taking effect on January 14, 2014.  Read commentary on the law here.


January 10, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Birth Records Opened in OH


With a stroke of the pen..., the state moved to open the birth records of hundreds of thousands of adopted Ohioans.

Gov. John Kasich signed into law a bill that ultimately will allow adoptees, when they reach adulthood, to gain access to their adoption records, learn more about the medical history of their biological family and perhaps make contact with birth parents.

Read more here.


January 9, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

CT Family Law Attorney Pilot Program

Read here about a Connecticut pilot program allowing people in family law cases to hire attorneys on a limited basis.


January 8, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2 Mothers in CO

From a recent CO Court of Appels decision:

We conclude that, in the context of a same-sex relationship, a child may have two mothers under the UPA — a biological mother and a presumptive mother. We therefore reverse the trial court’s denial of Limberis’ petition for maternity and remand for a determination of her petition on the merits.

Read the full decision here.


January 7, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Divorcing Baby Boomers

From CNN:

A recent article in The New York Times noted that the nation's divorce rate -- which plateaued for years at around 50% -- has significantly dropped -- to just above 40%. As almost an aside, the writer mentioned that only one group, the 50-plusers, have seen their rate of divorce surge 50% in the past 20 years.

Oops -- to this boomer, that is "burying the lead." Why would only the boomers have a significant growth in marital dissolution -- one in four divorces after age 50 -- while other ages do not?

Read more here.


January 6, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Employment Benefits—Divorce—Validity—Right to Share of Pension

From Bloomberg Family Law Reporter:

The first wife of a retired union worker has failed to convince the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland that their divorce was invalid—after it was allegedly declared so on the TV show “The People's Court”—and that she was therefore entitled to a portion of her ex-husband's pension benefits. The couple were married in Chile in 1975, and they divorced in Mexico in 1983. He married his second wife in 1983 in Los Angeles, and that marriage ended in 2006. The man retired in 2010, receiving both lump-sum and monthly pension benefits from his union pension fund. His second wife also received lump-sum and monthly benefits pursuant to a qualified domestic relations order.
In 2011, the first wife contacted the fund, claiming that her Mexican divorce was “illegal” and that she was still the man's legal wife and therefore entitled to benefits. She asserted that she showed their divorce papers to Judge Joseph Wapner of the TV show “The People's Court,” and that he “concluded that the divorce was not legal.” The fund then filed a declaratory action asking the court to weigh in on the dispute, and the man filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a declaration that his first wife had no valid claim to benefits. The court granted the motion, noting that the purported divorce occurred almost 30 years ago, with the man spending 23 of them years married to someone else and raising three children with her. “After thirty years of silence, to permit [the first wife] to now raise an issue challenging the validity of that second marriage would be plainly inequitable,” the court said. (Bd. of Trs. of the Masters, Mates & Pilots Pension Plan v. Carney, D. Md., No. 1:13-cv-01005-WMN, 12/3/13)

January 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

England Most Generous for Alimony

From the Financial Times:

Divorcing spouses in England are more likely to receive generous maintenance payments over a longer period than in 13 other countries because judges can take more factors into account, according to research.

A study by law firm Withers examined spousal maintenance payments in jurisdictions in Europe, the US, South Africa and New Zealand and concluded that England and Wales stood out because of the broad range of issues the judge could take into consideration.

Read more here.


January 4, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Second Same-Sex Divorce in Israel

From The Jerusalem Post:

Tel Aviv Family Court Judge Naftali Shilo handed down the second court decision in the country’s history approving the divorce of a homosexual couple...

In December 2012, a three judge panel of Yehezkel Eliyahu, Amit Kama and Uzi Even, also of the Tel Aviv Family Court, handed down the first such decision.

Read more here.


January 3, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Child Born to Surrogate has Dual Citizenship: Harignordoquy v. Barlow


Mother, a U.S. citizen, and Father, a citizen of both France and the U.S., were married in Teton County after executing a prenuptial agreement. The parties subsequently became the parents of twins through surrogacy. In 2011, Mother filed for divorce in the Teton County district court. Father then moved to France. The trial court entered a decree that divided the parties' property in accordance with the prenuptial agreement and awarded Mother sole custody of the children. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) determining that it had jurisdiction to resolve the parties' custody dispute; and (2) declining to assign any significant weight to the children's possible dual citizenship in making its custody and visitation determination.

For the opinion, please click here.


January 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

2013 Research on Divorce

From Huffington Post:

What causes a marriage to fall apart?

There is definitely no one right answer -- but there is plenty of research offering suggestions. We gathered some of the most interesting facts published about divorce in 2013. Check them out below.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

January 2, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

January 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lambda Legal and ACLU of Illinois Expedite Marriage for Same-sex Couples Facing Urgent Medical Circumstances


A federal court ordered the Cook County Clerk's office to immediately issue marriage licenses to all Illinois same-sex couples who, because of a life-threatening illness, cannot wait until next summer to get married. The order comes after three Illinois couples were granted emergency marriage license applications because one of the partners has a terminal illness. Starting today, couples may marry before June 1, 2014, if they provide a doctor's declaration stating that one or both of them has a life-threatening illness.

The order provides a streamlined process for couples in similarly urgent medical circumstances, allowing a physician to evaluate a person's illness to determine if an emergency marriage license is needed and appropriate. The order allows couples to get the protections and responsibilities of marriage without having to go through a legal and possibly public process during a time when privacy and calm is of utmost importance.

For the full text of the article, click here.


December 31, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)