Family Law Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Absence of Marriage


The collapse of marriage in our poorest communities -- and its tragic impact -- is a familiar story. But increasingly, marriage is becoming a marker of class privilege in America, something increasingly reserved for the affluent. If progressives want to tackle the scourge of inequality, then the retreat from marriage is an issue they can't ignore.

The reality is that the retreat from marriage is pervading the working middle class -- the two-thirds of Americans without a college degree. This is occurring even as in upscale America, marital bonds remain comparatively strong.

Read more here.

May 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 18, 2015

An Inter-Caste Marriage

From Chandigarh Tribune:

An inter-caste marriage turned sour right on the day of the wedding, but a Delhi court, finding itself in a peculiar situation, expressed its inability to grant divorce or help the parties reach an agreement.

The court found itself in a tight spot as the woman in her divorce plea simply said it was a “mistake” to tie the knot with a man, who complained of being forced and threatened to sign the documents for dissolving the marriage by his father-in-law, a policeman, for belonging to different caste.

The family court presided by Principal Judge Girish Kathpalia observed that any opposition to marriage on the ground of caste difference is in “violation of law” and persuaded in vain that the couple lived together.

Read more here.

May 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Horvath & Ryznar: "Protecting the Parent-Child Relationship"

Kristy Horvath & Margaret Ryznar have just published Protecting the Parent-Child Relationship, George Washington International Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 303-326, 2015.  Here is the abstract:

In 2014, Japan became the last G7 industrialized nation to sign the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. In order for the Convention to provide effective relief to parents in Japan, this Article recommends examining joint custody, visitation, and the best interests of the child standard. This would track the developments in custody law that resulted in the modern custody framework in the United States.

May 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Re-Homing Children

From The Washington Post:

The sisters were supposed to be moving out of neglect and chaos and into the stability of their forever home. For one of those girls, however, Arkansas Rep. Justin Harris’s house came to represent something very different: a temporary stopping point on the way to some place much, much worse.

A series of stories by the Arkansas Times revealed that Harris — a day-care owner, a vociferous defender of his Christian faith and a prominent figure in the state’s Republican Party — put two young girls he adopted in the care of a man who later sexually abused one of them.

More shocking still: What Harris did, unofficially giving away an adopted child, is not illegal in Arkansas.

Read more here.

May 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Economics of Divorce

From NBC News:

Divorce can be a one-way ticket down the road to financial instability for many women, especially for those who are middle class or low-income.

It can mean a loss of work hours, more time (and expense) devoted to childcare and a cold slap in the face when it comes to finding a job or finishing an education.

While working-class women tend to be hit harder, not having a job, money or credit of their own is a challenge that can affect women of all socioeconomic brackets, said Bruce McClary, spokesman at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. "In a lot of situations you have that career interrupted... It can be very messy in that situation because they have to start right from scratch."

Read more here.

May 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Impact of Health on Marriage

From The Washington Post:

It's well-established that, with some exceptions, married people live longer and healthier lives than unmarried people. But until recently, researchers hadn't conducted a very thorough examination of how well a marriage survives when one partner becomes seriously ill.

The results of that effort probably won't cheer anyone -- least of all women. When a wife falls ill, there is a 6 percent greater chance that a later-life marriage will end in divorce than there is if she remains healthy. When a husband becomes sick, there is no impact on the odds that the couple will divorce.

Read more here.

May 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Divorce Still Discouraged in Various Cultures

From The Washington Post:

Chitra’s experience is an increasingly common one in the United States. While divorce is an accepted and relatively easy process in Western countries, it has remained stigmatized in growing Asian immigrant communities, particularly where arranged marriages are still the norm. Even discussing marital problems is limited. Divorce rates for the 3.5 million people of South Asian descent in the United States. are extremely low, but that’s not necessarily because they’ve selected better mates or constructed healthier unions. While the U.S. government doesn’t track the divorce rate for Indian Americans specifically, expert estimates range from1 percent to 15 percent, compared to a divorce rate of 44 percent for all Americans. (In India, divorce is even less common – just one in 1,000 marriages ends in divorce.)

Chitra’s story, and the emotional suffering of other South Asian men and women whom I help as a counselor, show why those numbers are so concerning. Husbands and wives are forced by social pressure originating 8,000 miles away to stay in emotionally unhealthy and abusive relationships.

Read more here.

May 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kenyan Family Law Changes Fail

From The Star:

MPs yesterday threw out a Bill that if passed, would have given men an equal right of access and upkeep of children born out of wedlock.

The Bill by Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma sought amendments to the Children's Act that would also have allowed fathers the right to live with and provide for their children without accommodating their mothers.

Close to 100 MPs against 65 voted to defeat the Bill that can only be reintroduced after six months.

Currently, the law compels a man who has sired a child with a woman outside wedlock to take full responsibility of the child, including care to the mother.

Read more here.

May 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ryznar: "Alimony's Job Lock"

Margaret Ryznar has posted Alimony's Job Lock, Akron Law Review (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In family law, courts often prevent people who owe alimony from changing jobs: if a job change is accompanied by a salary decrease, the court will not readjust the alimony obligation and instead impute the higher income to the obligor. This Article introduces the term “job lock” to describe this situation, borrowing the term from the healthcare context, wherein job immobility due to health insurance concerns has received significant scrutiny. This Article advocates applying the same scrutiny to the alimony context, proposing a balancing test to assist courts in recalculating alimony in certain cases of an obligor’s job change.

May 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

65/35 Custody Split Bill Postponed in Nebraska

Change provisions relating to the Parenting Act have been indefinitely postponed in Nebraska.

From 1011now:

Sen. Laura Ebke (Crete) [had] introduced a bill that would encourage judges to more fairly divide custody between separated parents. LB-437 asks that judges split custody by at least 65/35, unless there are circumstances in a case that warrant less visitation.

Ebke says it's important for kids to have both parents in their lives.  "Parents and kids alike, you know, thrive off of each other. The things that a young lady or a young man get from their parents are different. Moms and dads are different creatures and so it's good for them to have exposure to both."

Read more here.

May 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Ryznar: "The Odd Couple: The Estate Tax and Family Law"

Margaret Ryznar has posted The Odd Couple: The Estate Tax and Family Law, Louisiana Law Review (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Although the estate tax is dynamic and frequently the center of tax policy debates, the right to inherit in the United States and many other countries is well-established. In the United States, inheritance rights are deeply rooted in the law. There also have been many economic arguments offered to support inheritance rights, often hinged on the positive incentives created by inheritance. However, there is another important reason for inheritance that this Article considers—the family.


May 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

20-Year-Old Divorce Claim in England

From BBC News:

A woman has won a landmark Supreme Court bid to claim cash from her millionaire ex-husband, 20 years after they divorced.

Kathleen Wyatt, 55, first took legal action against Dale Vince, 53, founder of wind-power firm Ecotricity, in 2011.

Mr Vince had previously appealed against his ex-wife on the basis she had lodged the claim too late. But five Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled Ms Wyatt's case should go before the family court.

Delivering the ruling, Lord Wilson said the court must have regard "to the contribution of each party to the welfare of the family, including by looking after the home or caring for the family".

Read more here.

May 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Stępień-Sporek & Ryznar: "The Consequences of Non-Marriages"

Anna Stępień-Sporek & Margaret Ryznar have posted The Consequences of Non-Marriages, University of San Francisco Law Review (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In several British surveys, the majority of people thought that cohabitants had the same legal status as married couples. However, this could not be farther from the truth—the law treats them as nothing more than strangers, albeit often with contractual capabilities to protect themselves in the event their cohabitation ends. A minority of American states, however, have refused even contract rights to cohabitants, with Illinois leading this contingent. In late 2014, however, an Illinois appellate court dramatically diverged from the state’s well-established precedent, determining that a recent change in public policy required recognizing property consequences of cohabitation. The legal framework on cohabitation is even more dynamic in Europe, ranging from no protection to equal protection that is provided in marriage, depending on the country. This Article therefore takes a comparative approach to examining the appropriate regulation of cohabitation and whether protections should be offered to cohabitants as their number continues to grow on both sides of the ocean.

May 8, 2015 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Adoption Records in IN


A proposal that would have expanded Indiana adoptees' access to more than 50 years of sealed records appears to be dead this session, to the disappointment of some advocates.

The records of children in Indiana who were adopted between 1941 and 1994 are currently sealed, preventing hundreds of thousands of adoptees from finding their biological parents.

"It's like starting a book on chapter two," said Pam Kroskie, president of Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records, one of the organizations behind the effort. "You're missing that piece of the puzzle."

The measure would have made accessing birth records easier for those born during that time period. In 1994, state law changed to require biological parents to sign an official form, indicating whether or not the state can disclose their information. Lawmakers agreed at the time to seal records for the preceding decades to protect those who did not expect their information to be readily available.

Read more here.

May 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 7, 2015


From Margaret Ryznar, writing for the Huffington Post:

At the end of April, the United States Supreme Court heard the third case on same-sex marriage in a period of two years. The Court previously avoided deciding whether same-sex marriage is protected by the U.S. Constitution, instead deciding that one party had no standing in the case, and in the other case, that section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional as it did not recognize valid same-sex marriages for federal benefits and obligations.

The legal question in the current consolidated cases before the Court is whether the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees due process and equal protection of the laws, prohibits states from banning same-sex marriage. If so, states can no longer ban same-sex marriages. The federal appeals court in this case had held there was no such prohibition on the states--and so they could continue to ban same-sex marriage--but other similar courts held there was indeed such a prohibition.

Read more here.

May 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

On Child Support

From Wendy Paris, writing for QUARTZ:

Walter Scott wasn’t just a black man in America shot by a police officer; he also was a divorced father. While debate rages about excessive use of police force, his death points to another troubling practice—the incarceration of poor parents for failing to pay child-support.

For the most part, these are not “deadbeat dads”; they’re dead broke dads. Seventy percent of unpaid child support debt is owed by parents with no or low reported earnings, according to the Office of Child Support Enforcement. Their ex-wives often are poor, too. For these families, our punitive child support policies function like a de facto debtor’s prison for fathers. This, at a time when divorce, more broadly, has dramatically improved for many. While family scholars and journalists voice concern about a growing “marriage divide”—the way that marriage has become almost a luxury good attained by the “haves” and eschewed or effectively denied to the poor—a similar sorting is happening with divorce and co-parenting.

Read more here.


May 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Italy & Hague Convention

From Breitbart News:

The Italian Senate has ratified the Hague Convention for the protection of foreign minors but rejected the application of its Sharia adoption provisions, which envision the application of Islamic law regarding guardianship of minors.

With a vote of 164-50 and 2 abstentions, the Senate approved the Convention of October 19, 1996, and with certain slight amendments sent it back to the House.

Sharia law does not recognize “adoption” as such, but only “kafala,” or Islamic adoptional jurisprudence. To keep children without parents from remaining entirely without protection, Islamic law provides for kafala, which recognizes custody for orphaned or abandoned children.

Read more here.


May 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Same-Sex Divorce

From afterellen:

Hopeless and hopeful romantics alike can agree that with legal marriage rights, civil unions, and domestic partnerships comes the reality that some couples must face divorce. Now that nearly a decade has passed since Massachusetts first legalized same-sex marriages, the same-sex divorce rate is seeing a boom. When compared with the comprehensive equality debates in regards to gay marriage, there has been a complete lack of discussion surrounding divorce, recently coming to a head when a lesbian couple, The Richmonds, were denied a divorce in Alabama because the state doesn’t recognize their marriage.

Read more here.

May 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Adoption Law Proposed Changes in FL

From CBS Miami:

After an impassioned debate, the Florida Senate...approved a bill that would restore a popular adoption-subsidies program — while repealing a 38-year-old law that banned gay adoption.

By a vote of 27-11, senators passed the measure (HB 7013), which would provide cash incentives to state workers who adopt children in Florida’s foster-care system, especially children with special needs.

Restoring adoption subsidies — which were dropped in 2009, during the economic downturn — was part of the “Work Plan 2015” jointly announced in January by Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli. The bill would provide $5,000 payments to government workers who adopt foster children, with the payments increasing to $10,000 for the adoption of children with special needs.

Read more here.

May 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 4, 2015

DNA Testing in Child Support Cases in GA

From Northwest Georgia News:

Rep. Katie Dempsey said...that requiring DNA testing in new child support cases is a way to end wrongful paternity claims prior to legal action.

The Rome Republican authored House Bill 568, which would allow the Georgia Department of Human Services to order the tests in any case where the absolute paternity of a child or children has not been established.

Dempsey said the bill impacts cases where children are born out of wedlock without a clear biological father.

Read more here.

May 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)