Family Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Ukrainian Children Resettled in Russia

From Newsweek:

Russia forcibly resettled more than 1,000 Ukrainian children from the occupied Mariupol region to be adopted by Russian families—a move that amounts to genocide, a U.S. think tank said Wednesday.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) cited a now-deleted Russian government post that showed that Russia is bringing Ukrainian children to the country and paying Russian families to adopt them.

An archived version of the Russian federal subject (region) Krasnodar Krai's Family and Childhood Administration post details a program under which Russian authorities transferred over 1,000 children from Mariupol to Tyumen, Irkutsk, Kemerovo and Altay Krai.

Read more here.

September 6, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Divorce Approaching High Rates Even in Traditional Countries

From the Jerusalem Post:

A study by the Egyptian Cabinet's Information and Decision Support Center found that Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar are the four countries in the Arab world with the highest divorce rate, which rose to 48% of all marriages in Kuwait, 40% in Egypt, 37.2% in Jordan and 37% in Qatar.

Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates follow with 34%. Dr. Mona Youssri, a licensed psychologist and family therapist at the American Hospital in Dubai, told The Media Line that in her experience, the majority of people seeking out couples therapy are females who sometimes manage to convince their male partners to join afterward.

Read more here.

September 4, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Cost of Divorce in 2022

From Fortune:

Although the U.S. divorce rate is declining, over 600,000 Americans get divorced each year, sustaining a more than $11 billion-per-year legal industry. What does this mean for individual marriages, and how much does a divorce really cost in 2022?

The median cost of a divorce in the U.S. is $7,000, while the average is between $15,000 and $20,000. But this is not a one-size-fits-all price tag. More complicated “contested” divorces can be significantly more expensive, while uncontested divorces can be significantly cheaper. Here’s everything you need to know to help you determine what your divorce may cost.

Read more here.

September 3, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 2, 2022

LGBTQ+ Rights Possible in Ukraine

From Thomas Reuters:

LGBTQ+ campaigners say that several same-sex soldier couples have got engaged since Russia's invasion, with many hopeful that Ukraine will legalise gay marriage, or civil unions at least.

While Ukraine's LGBTQ+ community has few legal protections and faces entrenched discrimination in the mainly Orthodox Christian nation, a recent petition demanding the legalisation of same-sex marriage has buoyed hopes for greater equality.

Responding to the petition earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said it would not be possible during wartime - as the constitution would have to be changed.

However, he said he had asked Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to "address the (petition's) issue" and noted that the government had already been looking into civil partnerships as an option.

Activists believe the war has bolstered public support in Ukraine for LGBTQ+ people, many of whom have joined the armed forces and taken on volunteer roles to help in the conflict.

Russia's war has put Ukraine's LGBTQ+ community on high alert. Moscow has increasingly cracked down on gay, bisexual and transgender people since passing a "gay propaganda" law in 2013, and reports of hate crimes and abuse have risen since then.

Read more here.

September 2, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Pre-Marriage Property Ownership Less Realistic Now in China

From Dao Insights:

According to a survey on home ownership before marriage carried out by Hunjia (a Chinese database) as of 2019, over 70% of single respondents born after 1995 stated that they wanted to buy a property before marriage. Likewise, over 80% of female respondents perceived that owning a property is a crucial prerequisite for marriage.

This societal ‘norm’ stems back to generations. Traditionally, to secure a good marriage, grooms would pay the in-laws with either land, gold, or a horse to show off their high economic and societal status.


Aside from the practice of ‘bridewealth’, according to a survey on home purchasing behaviour carried out by Beike Research Institute in July of 2021, around 75% of respondents both men and women aged 21 to 40 thought that buying a home before getting married would increase their sense of belonging and security. Similarly, many Chinese feel that buying a home can improve their quality of life and gain a foothold in property rights. For example, education, under the Hukou System (China’s registered resident system), children’s admission rights are strongly connected to this. And so, both women and men aim to buy property in a good catchment area for their future children.

The reality of achieving this cultural prerequisite in today’s property climate is becoming more and more difficult. Despite the slight increase in residential home sales and a dip of 0.2% in average new home prices, there is a growing number of unfinished homes which has caused many Chinese homeowners to consequently postpone their marriage and other future arrangements.

In China, future homeowners acquire houses through a pre-pay model, in which buyers purchase apartments that are unfinished. In return, property developers promise to deliver the completed homes within a specified timeframe, but with soaring debt, and a tightening regulatory environment aimed at winding down the industry, many developers have failed to meet their targets. As a consequence, this has left some people making mortgage payments years before being able to move into their home. Although it is common in other countries to pay a deposit on a housing unit before it’s built, unlike China, a mortgage payment is not required until the purchaser takes possession.

Read more here.

September 1, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Marriage Bonus

From CNN:

It pays to be married. According to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and reported in the Wall Street Journal, the financial gap between married couples and single people aged 25-34 has widened into a chasm, with married couples worth nearly nine times as much as singles. That's a big jump from 2010, when marrieds were still worth four times as much as singles.

Some of this is just math: Households with two adults in them have more resources. They will be able to split the cost of rent and groceries and more easily qualify for a mortgage or save for a down payment on a house.
But some of it is also about the privileges the US continues to bestow on married couples, and the ways in which our workplaces, norms and expectations have not significantly shifted since the era of the patriarchal nuclear family, with a dad out earning the bread and a mom at home raising children -- even as our families and our lives have radically changed. America in 2022 is not the America of 1952, and if we want to narrow the gap between singles and marrieds -- if we want to make sure all people can thrive, whether they've tied the knot or not -- we need our government and our workplaces to leap into the 21st century and create policies and spaces that support a diversity of individuals and families.
Read more here.

August 31, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Twin Families

Identical twins that married identical twins start their families.  Listen to the NPR story here.

August 30, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 29, 2022

Marriage Penalty for Older Couples

From MarketWatch:

A devastating new critique in the Washington University Law Review has spelled out how federal law punishes older couples for being married. 

It’s not just that if you meet and fall in love during your golden years you may be much better off staying unwed than tying the knot; it’s that under current federal law if you and your long-term spouse make it into your 60s you might well be able to help your struggling finances by divorcing.

These are the implications of “Preferencing Nonmarriage In Later Years,” by law professor Richard Kaplan, the Guy Raymond Jones Chair in Law at the University of Illinois.

He highlights two key areas of elder finance where a couple is often better off unmarried than married: Social Security and nursing-home care. As these are two of the most important financial issues facing all elders, the argument about elder marriage — or elder divorce — may be more than academic.

On Social Security, Uncle Sam started taxing benefits in 1983. As Kaplan points out, the taxation system is so “bizarre” (his word) that taxes are higher on a married couple than on an unmarried couple with the exact same finances. That’s because Social Security taxes kick in at two thresholds, and in both cases, Kaplan says, “the applicable threshold for a married couple is less than twice the threshold for an unmarried person.” 

Read more here.

August 29, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Millennial Marriage

From 93.1 FM WIBC:

The millennial generation is now America’s largest, numbering 72.1 million according to 2019 Census Bureau data. Between the ages of  26 to 41,  millennials’ tendencies have changed from those of earlier generations. states only 44% of millennials are married and millennials have continued a trend of delaying marriage. The median age of a first marriage currently sits at 30.4 for men and 28.6 for women. Millennials are also more likely than previous generations to live with a partner or have children outside of marriage.

The most educated millennials are the most likely to be married: 51.5% of millennials with a bachelor’s degree or higher and 46.9% with an associate’s degree are married, while those who haven’t completed a college degree are married less than 40% of the time.

With a host of factors correlating to millennials’ marital status, marriage rates for the generation vary by geography. Researchers ranked metros by the share of millennials who are married.

Read more here.

August 28, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Marriage Equality for Disabled People

From the New York Times:

Because she qualifies for Social Security benefits through a program for adults whose medical disability started before age 22, she is considered a “disabled adult child.” The designation, known as D.A.C., applies to 1.1 million Americans, according to the Social Security Administration website.

Those who qualify generally cannot continue to receive benefits if they marry someone who is not disabled or retired. (For a brief window after same-sex marriage became federal law in 2015, marrying a person of the same gender was also a workaround to avoid losing benefits; it took a while for the Social Security Administration to change the wording of its policies from “husband and wife” to “spouse.”)

The marriage provisions, Ms. Long maintained, are lodged in outdated ideas that have marginalized the disabled. “When they wrote the Social Security laws, they weren’t thinking that young people with disabilities would ever be marriage material,” she said. “People didn’t think we might have dreams and hopes like everybody else. We do.”

Read more here.

August 27, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 26, 2022

24 States Support ICWA

From Iowa Capital Dispatch:

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller called for the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act, which protects Native American children from forced removal from their families and tribal communities.

Miller joined 23 other state attorneys general Monday in filing an amicus brief in Harland v. Brackeen. The lawsuit was brought in 2017 by a white Texas couple who attempted adopting a Navajo boy. The Navajo Nation objected to the request on the basis of the Indian Child Welfare Act, ICWA, as a Native family member of the child also wanted to adopt the child.

The ICWA requires preference is given to Native family and tribal members in adoption cases for native children. Lawyers for the Texas family argued that requirement meant the federal law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, by discriminating on the basis of race.

But the defense lawyers, alongside Native American rights activists and the ACLU, say the law’s protections are not on the basis of race. A person’s legal tribal affiliation is political, not racial, they argued. The attorneys general’s amicus brief backs up this argument, and asks the Supreme Court to preserve the ICWA.

Read more here.

August 26, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hillary Clinton Gutsy to Stay in Marriage

From Yahoo!:

In her new Apple TV + series, Gutsy, which features conversations with powerful women across the U.S. alongside daughter Chelsea, Hillary discusses her “gutsiest” moment with Rev. Whittney Ijanaten. The eye-opening dialogue that was teased in the trailer may resonate with some people who have been in a similar position in their relationships. “You have a marriage that has been on public display since the beginning. You said the gutsiest thing you ever did was stay in your marriage,” Ijanaten inquires. The former Secretary of State nods her hand in agreement while adding in, “That doesn’t mean that’s right for everybody.” 

Read more here.


August 26, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

LA Provides Court Reporters Only In Felony and Juvenile Matters


Citing a staff shortage, Los Angeles County Superior Court leaders said Thursday they will shift all available court reporters to felony and juvenile matters, even after the Legislature allocated $30 million statewide last year to add reporters to family law and civil cases.

In an email to court staff Wednesday evening, Presiding Judge Eric Taylor said the court no longer has enough reporters available to staff proceedings where they are not legally mandated.

“Court leadership is acutely aware of the significant role of court reporters in the justice system and acknowledges that eliminating this service in non-mandated case types will be difficult and expensive for attorneys, clients, self-represented litigants, judicial officers, court reporters, and other staff,” Taylor wrote. “I assure you that we have done everything within [our] control to avert this change and, frankly, delay the inevitable.”

A “fact sheet” produced by the Los Angeles court said the problem is not a lack of money to hire court reporters but retirements, departures by reporters moving to the private sector, and the lack of new reporters entering the profession. The court said it offers a $2,000 signing bonus for reporters who complete their first year, and “ aggressively” recruit on job sites and directly to newly licensed reporters.

But the association representing Los Angeles reporters said court officials could have done more to hire more reporters.

Read more here.

August 26, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Definition of Marriage in Singapore

From PBS:

Singapore announced Sunday it will decriminalize sex between men by repealing a colonial-era law while protecting the city-state’s traditional norms and its definition of marriage.

During his speech at the annual National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he believed it is the “right thing to do now” as most Singaporeans will now accept it.

“Private sexual behavior between consenting adults does not raise any law and order issue. There is no justification to prosecute people for it nor to make it a crime,” Lee said. “This will bring the law into line with current social mores and I hope provide some relief to gay Singaporeans.”

Lee vowed the repeal will be limited and not shake Singapore’s traditional family and societal norms including how marriage is defined, what children are taught in schools, what is shown on television and general public conduct.

Read more here.

August 25, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 22, 2022

Joint Digital Accounts Like Phone Plans and Amazon

From The Washington Post:

In some ways, creating joint accounts feels vulnerable, like erasing your own digital footprint, said Megan Fritts Cabrera, an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. So much could go wrong: death, divorce, weird joint social media accounts. It’s a classic “prisoner’s dilemma,” she said.

That may be especially true of accounts that come with contracts, like cell plans. Some accounts, like streaming services, don’t come with scary multiyear contracts. But combining them comes with risks nonetheless.

As in all marital conflicts, opinions on cell plans and streaming accounts say something deeper, a marriage therapist said. If one partner insists on having an accessible list of family passwords, that might speak to their need for security. If the other wants separate Amazon accounts, that might be because they value privacy. When conflict arises, brainstorm how you can meet each other’s foundational needs and support each other’s visions of a happy relationship, he advised.

Read more here.

August 22, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Virginia Hospitals Help to Increase Paternity Establishment

From Sun Gazette:

Just over three-quarters of unmarried mothers who gave birth in Virginia hospitals in 2021 had the paternity of their children established, an increase from 2020 and a positive step, state officials said. 

The Virginia Paternity Establishment Program, or VPEP, offers unmarried parents the opportunity to establish paternity for newborn children. In 2021, more than 33,000 births in Virginia were to unmarried parents, and the commonwealth’s paternity-establishment rate climbed to 76 percent compared to 73.6 percent a year before.

Each year, VDSS, VPEP and Veritas HHS recognize the top 10 Virginia hospitals with the highest rates of paternity establishment. The hospital achieving the highest rate in 2021 was Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center (MCRC) in Richmond, which tallied a rate of 88.31 percent.

Read more here.

August 21, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Critical Tax Issue During Divorce

From JDSupra:

Divorce will change your income tax filing status. Filing status is used in determining whether a taxpayer must file a return and the amount of the standard deduction. Filing status is also used in calculating a taxpayer’s income tax. If a divorce is not finalized by the end of the year, the divorcing couple must decide whether to file a joint tax return. Both the taxpayer and spouse must understand that when filing a joint tax return each is separately and individually liable for the tax due. 

Alimony or separate maintenance payments under a divorce or separation instrument executed after 2018 is no longer deductible by the payer. In addition, the recipient does not have to include alimony received as income. 

Generally, there is no gain or loss on property received in a divorce. However, there can be significant income tax consequences when property received in a settlement is sold. 

Read more here.


August 20, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 19, 2022

Modern Parenting Plans

From Divorce Magazine:

Times change, and so do habits and values. In 2022, modern parenting issues would include new considerations.

Birdnesting is a new terminology describing the situation when parents move back and forth. In separation or divorce, parents may end up living in different towns. Accordingly, birdnesting is a useful strategy when parents would let the child stay in one place allows them to more easily keep up with school and friends. This strategy is great for reducing their stress by minimizing the disruption to life.

Some children eventually ask their parents to change the way they perceive and treat them as a boy or girl. A son may want to be referred to as a daughter, or a daughter may want to be referred to as a son. The child may describe themselves with words like transgender or nonbinary in addition to, or instead of, boy or girl. It is also possible for doctors to delay hormonal puberty, giving a child extra time to choose their next steps. A child’s physical development today will contribute to how others perceive and assume their physical sex later in life. 

Since the appearance of covid in 2020, caution about infection has always been part of the family routine for people with certain illnesses and disabilities, but, for most people, covid safety has required new learning and adaptation. This is a major preoccupation for modern parenting.

Read more here.

August 19, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Intertwined Relationship of Child Support and Food Stamps

From moms:

Child support and food stamps have a very important and intertwined relationship. According to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities near one-fifth of all SNAP households with children receive child support payments. More times than not, single parents will be including their children on the application; however, they do have the option to apply individually.It is important that parents know how the child support they are receiving or paying will affect the outcome of the decision.

For instance, when a parent receives child support, (court-ordered or not) it is considered income. Likewise, if they are not receiving the payments, it is not considered income. When a parent is paying court-ordered child support, it is deducted from their total income. If the parent pays child support not mandated by the courts, those payments will not be taken off their income.

If a parent is getting child support that is not part of a court order, they still legally need to count that towards income. The USDA states all of your answers when applying for SNAP must be complete and honest. If you knowingly give false information or intentionally fail to report required information, you may incur substantial penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and removal from the program.

Read more here.

August 18, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Child Support Obligation Affects Hunting and Fishing Privilege in Utah


Utah is seeing a surge in child support payments over the past year, a change that state officials credit in part to a new state law that withholds hunting and fishing licenses to people who fall significantly behind on payments.

The law blocks anyone from obtaining a hunting or fishing license if they are past due more than $2,500 in child support for a year.

“A lot of people talk about sending people to jail or prison instantly when they hear non-collection of child support, non-payment of child support. But in reality, if they’re going to prison or jail, they’re not working, so that’s not helping solve the problem,” said Utah Office of Recovery Services (ORS) director Liesa Stockdale, whose agency manages child support in the state. Stockdale encouraged to think about “creative incentives” that are important to the people who owe child support but that wouldn’t impact their ability to support their children.

Read more here.

August 17, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)