Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy 4th of July

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July 4, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 3, 2020

Call for Papers – Dynamic Pedagogy in Family Law

Family Court Review, an international, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed family law journal, is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for a Special Issue on Dynamic Pedagogy in the Family and Juvenile Law Classroom: Experiential and In-Class Exercises.  

ABA Standard 303(a)(3) requires all students to complete “one or more experiential course(s) totaling at least six credit hours.” This revision has increased demand for experiential learning courses and clinics at law schools, and presents an opportunity for innovative teaching and community partnerships.

This special issue will explore existing—and creative—visions for integrating experiential learning into casebook-focused, clinical, and other experiential courses in ways that transcend simulations. Articles will describe the pedagogical design of experiential and in-class exercises, situating them within the scholarship of teaching and learning, and provide materials that can be used in family law-related courses and clinics.  Potential topics range from integrating exercises and formative assessments into traditional doctrinal courses, to offering additional credits for participation in projects involving collaborations with courts, public interest nonprofits, or clinics, to other potential means of incorporating experiential learning into courses. 

The Special Issue will build on the Family Law Section’s Pedagogy Panel to be held at the 2021 AALS Annual Meeting. The issue will include approximately a dozen articles. Articles will be published in the October 2022 issue of Family Court Review, and manuscripts will be due September 1, 2021.  

The Special Issue will be guest edited by Naomi R. Cahn, Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law (effective Aug. 2020), and Meredith Johnson Harbach, Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law. If interested, please submit an abstract to by January 2, 2021. The abstract should not exceed 500 words and should describe the experiential learning approach and potential materials that would be included in the article. Decisions about acceptance for publication will be made and communicated by February 1, 2021. 

July 3, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

James Brown Estate Decision

From Probate Stars:

In a June 2020 decision, Brown v. Sojourner, the South Carolina Supreme Court addressed the surviving spouse status of the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown’s purported surviving spouse, Tommie Rae Brown, where Tommie had not annulled her prior marriage at the time of her marriage to Brown.

Read more here.

July 2, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

DV Database Launches in China

From CNN:

A city in eastern China is launching a database for people considering marriage to check the domestic violence records of their partner.

The database will be launched on July 1 in the city of Yiwu, in Zhejiang province. It's backed by the All China Women's Foundation (ACWF), an influential, government-linked organization, which said in a statement this week the plan would "prevent and reduce the occurrence of domestic violence."
The system allows people to retrieve information related to domestic violence and personal safety protection orders -- akin to restraining orders -- from their partner's criminal records.
"In most cases, people don't find out their partner is violent until after they're married," Zhou Danying, vice president of Yiwu's chapter of the ACWF, told local media. "The inquiry system allows a partner to know whether the other party has a domestic violence record before getting married."
Read more here.

July 1, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Upcoming Webcast on Pet Custody Disputes

On July 23 at noon, the DC Bar is hosting a webcast on pet custody disputes:

In most households, pets are part of the family. But if a family splits in two, what happens to the dogs, cats, and other beloved animals who lived with the couple? Our panelists will answer that question in this evolving area of law. We’ll discuss pet visitation privileges, the interplay between child and pet custody, drafting a settlement agreement to protect the welfare of family pets, and even creating a “pet-nuptial agreement.” We’ll also examine the consequences that occur based on the status a state bestows on pets. How does the outcome change when the best interests of the pets are taken into account instead of applying the traditional inquiry treating them only as property? Given the number of legal and practical challenges, this will be a lively discussion of these fraught, high-stakes proceedings.
Pre-registration for this program is required. As always, please feel free to share this invitation with colleagues. D.C. Bar membership is not required to attend.
Register here.
Hat Tip: Catherine Ross

June 30, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2020

Supreme Court Strike Down Abortion Limitations

From AP:

A divided Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics, reasserting a commitment to abortion rights over fierce opposition from dissenting conservative justices in the first big abortion case of the Trump era.

Chief Justice John Roberts and his four more liberal colleagues ruled that the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals violates abortion rights the court first announced in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

The outcome is not the last word on the decades-long fight over abortion with dozens of state-imposed restrictions winding their way through the courts. But the decision was a surprising defeat for abortion opponents, who thought that a new conservative majority with two of President Donald Trump’s appointees on board would start chipping away at abortion access.

The key vote belonged to Roberts, who had always voted against abortion rights before, including in a 2016 case in which the court struck down a Texas law that was virtually identical to the one in Louisiana.

Read more here.

June 29, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Coronavirus Hurts Wedding Industry

From the Economist:

HEATHER QUINLAN and Adam McGovern, a couple from Parsipanny, New Jersey, intended to marry in October, amid family and friends. But as covid-19 outbreaks swept through America, that looked unrealistic. “We decided that, since we had no idea when the actual, traditional ceremony would take place, there was no time like the present,” says Ms Quinlan, a writer who, fittingly, has just finished a book about pandemics. Looking for alternatives, they settled on Zoom, the video-calling software that in lockdown has facilitated everything from work meetings to birthday parties. Mr McGovern contacted Parsippany’s mayor, Michael Soriano, who in turn spoke to New Jersey’s governor. He signed an executive order allowing civil marriages to happen remotely. The marriage license was then mailed back-and-forth to witnesses. The couple were married in their home on May 20th by Mr Soriano, dialling in from his office.

In normal times, weddings are big business. Worldwide, the industry is estimated to be worth $300bn a year. Each wedding feeds a constellation of businesses, from caterers and photographers to florists and entertainers. International “destination weddings”, as well as stag and hen parties, are a boon to the travel industry. Those in the wedding business often boast that it is “recession-proof”: people will always want to celebrate getting married. But it is not pandemic-proof. Couples have been forced to choose between delaying their nuptials and finding new ways to wed.

Read more here.

June 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Divorce Linked to Early Death

From Yahoo!:

Divorce makes up one of three social or behavioural factors linked to an early death, research suggests.

Scientists from the University of British Columbia looked at more than 13,000 adults over 22 years.

Out of 57 lifestyle factors, divorce, smoking and alcohol abuse were most closely linked to the study’s participants dying during the follow-up period.

Perhaps surprisingly, never getting married was also in the top 10.

Read more here.


June 27, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 26, 2020

Romanian Children Neglected Decades Ago

From the Atlantic:

This past christmas day was the 30th anniversary of the public execution by firing squad of Romania’s last Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu, who’d ruled for 24 years. In 1990, the outside world discovered his network of “child gulags,” in which an estimated 170,000 abandoned infants, children, and teens were being raised. Believing that a larger population would beef up Romania’s economy, Ceaușescu had curtailed contraception and abortion, imposed tax penalties on people who were childless, and celebrated as “heroine mothers” women who gave birth to 10 or more. Parents who couldn’t possibly handle another baby might call their new arrival “Ceauşescu’s child,” as in “Let him raise it.”

To house a generation of unwanted or unaffordable children, Ceauşescu ordered the construction or conversion of hundreds of structures around the country. Signs displayed the slogan: the state can take better care of your child than you can.

At age 3, abandoned children were sorted. Future workers would get clothes, shoes, food, and some schooling in Case de copii—“children’s homes”—while “deficient” children wouldn’t get much of anything in their Cămine Spitale. The Soviet “science of defectology” viewed disabilities in infants as intrinsic and uncurable. Even children with treatable issues—perhaps they were cross-eyed or anemic, or had a cleft lip—were classified as “unsalvageable.”

After the Romanian revolution, children in unspeakable conditions—skeletal, splashing in urine on the floor, caked with feces—were discovered and filmed by foreign news programs, including ABC’s 20/20, which broadcast “Shame of a Nation” in 1990.

Read more here.

June 26, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Father's YouTube Videos

From CNN:

When Rob Kenney's father left his family during his teenage years, Kenney committed himself to being a present and loving dad to his own children. His love for being a dad led him to create the "Dad, how do I?" YouTube channel, which has seen more success than he ever dreamed.

See more here.

June 25, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Child Care Centers Closing

From ABC News:

Nationwide nearly half of child care providers completely closed their facilities during the COVID-19 shutdowns, according to a survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Of those that stayed open, 85% are operating with less than half of their usual child enrollment.

The outlook for the industry is grim: an analysis by the Center for American Progress found that roughly half of U.S. child care capacity is at risk of disappearing.

"There is no way that the economy will be able to open completely without child care being fully supported and stable," Taylor told ABC News.


More than 90% of the nation's 1.2 million child care workers are women. Some experts say that is a key reason the industry is undervalued and taken for granted.

"It is something that people just assume will always be there," said Katie Hamm, the vice president for early childhood policy at the Center for American Progress.

Read more here.

June 24, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 22, 2020

Child-Care Deserts

From the Washington Post:

The first-of-its-kind nationwide portrait shows that, on average, middle-income areas — considered areas where typical households have a combined annual income of about $75,000 to $85,000 — are most likely to be in child-care deserts, along with areas with heavily Latino populations.

Rural families nationwide had the fewest child-care slots relative to demand across all categories, the researchers found.

“The number one takeaway for me was that areas with enough child care tend to be your higher-income, highly educated communities, whether it’s in urban metros or suburban enclaves,” said CAP’s Rasheed Malik, a senior analyst for early childhood policy who worked with the Minnesota researchers.

The analysis comes as the coronavirus pandemic has upended an already tenuous child-care landscape. Industry groups predict that one-third to half of child-care programs may close permanently without significant public investment, and many economists warn as much as $50 billion may be needed to assist the industry as parents attempt to return to work.

Read more here.

June 22, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schools During COVID-19 in Sweden

From Business Insider:

Sweden is compelling parents to keep sending their children to school — including students with conditions that some evidence suggests may make them more at risk of catching COVID-19 — as part of its policy to avoid a fullscale lockdown in response to the coronavirus.

While school systems in other countries have ceased or greatly restricted in-person learning, Sweden says that anyone under 15 should keep going to school. There are almost no exceptions.

Some parents have refused to comply, sparking a stand-off with state officials.

They worry this could eventually end with their children being taken away — the ultimate reprisal from the government — though officials stress that this would only happen in extreme scenarios.

Read more here.

June 22, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

HSAs and FSAs Now Cover Menstrual Products

From the Street:

Individuals, thanks to new rules under the Cares Act, can now use their health savings accounts (HSAs) or health care flexible savings accounts (FSAs) to pay for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs as well as menstrual care products, according to David Speier, a managing director at Willis Towers Watson.


Spier says these much-needed changes will be welcomed by millions of Americans feeling the financial stress of COVID-19 related economic conditions. Many individuals, he says, have emergency savings in their HSAs, and now have the freedom to spend those savings on additional items if needed. The extended deadline may also be valuable to individuals who can afford to set aside more dollars for emergencies or long-term savings.

Read more here.


June 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Sanga & McCrary: "The Impact of the Coronavirus Lockdown on Domestic Violence"

Sarath Sanga (Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law) & Justin McCrary (Columbia University - Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)) have recently posted to SSRN their paper The Impact of the Coronavirus Lockdown on Domestic Violence. Here is the abstract:

We use 911 call records and mobile device location data to study the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on domestic violence. The percent of people at home sharply increased at all hours, and nearly doubled during regular working hours, from 45 to 85 percent. Domestic violence increased 12 percent on average and 20 percent during working hours. Using neighborhood-level identifiers, we show that the rate of first-time abuse likely increased even more: 16 percent on average and 23 percent during working hours. Our results contribute to an urgent need to quantify the physical and psychological burdens of prolonged lockdown polices.

June 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 19, 2020

Ding: "Medical Decision-Making on Behalf of Children in China: A Multi-dimensional Analysis of Parental Authoritarianism"

Chunyan Ding (City University of Hong Kong - School of Law; City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) - Centre for Chinese & Comparative Law) has recently posted to SSRN her paper Medical Decision-Making on Behalf of Children in China: A Multi-dimensional Analysis of Parental Authoritarianism.  Here is the abstract.

The issue of medical decision-making on behalf of children has attracted extensive attention due to the English cases of Charlie Gard or Alfie Evans. Although there are close to 400 million children in China, the following issues have not been much discussed among scholars and the public in the country: Do Chinese children have the right to patient autonomy? Given the developing autonomy of children associated with their age and maturity, to what extent should they participate in medical decision-making? How should disagreements between minor patients, their guardians and medical practitioners be solved? How should their parents or guardians as legal representatives make proxy medical decisions when children are unable to decide for themselves? What are the proper roles of the state (the judiciary in particular) in protecting children in cases involving medical decision-making on behalf of children? Had cases similar to those of Charlie Gard or Alfie Evans occurred in China, would courts intervene in parental decisions? And if so, how? Under Chinese law, as children lack full legal capacity to make medical decisions, it is their guardians (in most cases parents) as legal representatives who make a proxy decision on their behalf. Although Chinese law explicitly requires guardians to exercise their responsibilities of guardianship in accordance with the child’s best interests and also requires the child’s will to be respected in the light of the child’s age and intelligence when making a proxy decision, in reality, the parents retain authoritarian power and there has been no case of judicial intervention even when the parental medical decision appears prejudicial to the child. This paper reports a multidimensional analysis of the gap between the law and the practice of medical decision-making on behalf of children in China. A number of factors combine to contribute to parental authoritarianism, including the medical care insurance system, the sociolegal responsibility for protecting child welfare, utilitarian familism, the strained patient–doctor relationship, and the civil procedure law. It also argues that the Chinese government (through the judiciary in particular) should meet its responsibilities and serve as a safety valve to protect children when medical decisions are made on their behalf.

June 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Free Marriage Licenses in Cincinnati if Expired During Coronavirus

From Local 12 News:

Couples in Hamilton County [Cincinnati] whose marriage license became invalid due to the pandemic -- take heart.

This started back when orders issued by the Ohio governor and the Department of Health postponed ceremonies and celebrations. Couples must get married within 60 days of getting their marriage license.

On Friday, Probate Court Judge Ralph Winkler announced that beginning Monday, any couple issued a marriage license between Jan. 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020 whose license became invalid due to the COVID-19 pandemic will not have to pay to get a new license.

Read more here.

June 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

More on Social Bubbles in England Amid COVID-19

From BBC:

When Boris Johnson announced the new rules allowing single people who live alone in England the option of creating a bubble with one other household from this weekend, he created a real dilemma for some - who to share a bubble with?

I'm in the category that is permitted to make that choice as I live alone. Single parents with children under 18 are also given the option of "bubbling up" with someone else. The new rule allows unlimited visits, and even overnight stays, between the two homes without the need for social distancing.

But if anybody in the bubble gets coronavirus symptoms, everyone in those households will be forced into self-isolation for 14 days - even if they had limited themselves to brief bubble visits rather than staying over.

Once you make your choice you have to stick with it. You cannot bounce from one bubble to another. Some families are facing yet more heart-breaking decisions. But as a single man without children, I can be more relaxed about choosing my bubble - so what are my options?

Read more here.

June 17, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

More on Employment Protection for Gay and Transgender People

From Naomi Cahn (GW), writing for Forbes:

June is the month for groundbreaking Supreme Court opinions on the basis of sexual identity, and that’s true of June 2020.

Gerald Bostock was a child-welfare-services coordinator in Clayton County, Georgia – until he was fired. He was gay and had begun to participate in a gay recreational softball league. Aimee Stephens presented as a man when she was hired, but then, several years later,  she told her employer, R. G. & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes that she intended to “live and work full-time as a woman.” Stephens was then fired. 

Bostock and Stephens sued, claiming that 1964 federal civil rights law – Title VII - protected them from being fired based on sex. The case made its way to the Supreme Court, which considered whether the more than 8 million LGBTQ+ workers would be protected under federal law against discrimination.

In its June 15, 2020 opinion, the Supreme Court agreed with Bostock and Stephens. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion, and he was joined by five other Justices: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. In plain, simple words, Justice Gorsuch wrote: “If the employer intentionally relies in part on an individual employee’s sex when deciding to discharge the employee—put differently, if changing the employee’s sex would have yielded a different choice by the employer—a statutory violation has occurred.” That means that the law’s “message for our cases is equally simple and momentous: An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not  relevant to employment decisions.”

The Court rejected the arguments of lawyers for employers and the Trump administration, who had argued that the correct understanding of sex discrimination was bias against women or men when Title VII was enacted in 1964; that understanding did not include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Instead, the Court accepted the arguments of the workers, who explained that discrimination based on sex included discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status.

Read more here.

June 16, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 15, 2020

Gay and Transgender Workers Receive Some Protections in Today's U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

From Newsweek:

Gay and transgender employees cannot be fired from their jobs solely because of their LGBT status, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The court found for the first time that federal civil rights law prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sex also protects employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The 6-to-3 ruling, led by Justice Neil Gorsuch, largely turned on the meaning of the word "sex" within Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful for an employer to "discriminate against any individual" because of their sex.

There was little dispute that Congress did not intend to protect LGBT employees when it passed that landmark civil rights-era legislation. But over 50 years later, lawyers at the hight court tussled over whether sex-based protections must include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity by consequence.

Gorsuch—whose vote was anticipated due to his preference for emphasizing the text of the law itself over lawmakers' intent—was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's four liberal-leaning members: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

Read more here.

June 15, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)