Family Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

More Kids Accidentally Using Pot

From NPR:

The number of states that have legalized recreational use of cannabis more than doubled in the last five years. A new study finds that between 2017 and 2021, the number of very young children eating edible forms of marijuana spiked dramatically, with many kids ending up in hospitals.

The study, released Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics, found that in 2017, there were just over 200 reported cases of accidental consumption of cannabis edibles by children under six. In 2021, the number shot up to 3,054 – an increase of 1,375%.

The vast majority of the kids found the drug in their own home. While most children suffered mild impacts, 22.7% of exposed children needed hospitalization, and 8% of them – 573 children – needed critical care.

Read more here.

February 1, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Marriage Tax Benefits

From Yahoo!

While persevering in sickness and health is a familiar concept during a wedding, you’ll rarely hear about tax breaks at the altar. However, married couples can take advantage of a slew of tax benefits, especially when they file jointly. Here is a list of tax benefits of marriage and how to maximize your refund as a couple. You may also want to consider working with a financial advisor to help you with your full tax planning strategies, especially if you’re planning a big life event.

Tax Benefits of Marriage

While it isn’t wise to marry for financial reasons, tying the knot allows couples to enjoy the following tax benefits when filing jointly. Remember, the benefits below don’t apply to couples filing separately, which we cover in more detail below.

Read more here.

January 31, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 30, 2023

"What Squirrels Taught Me About Life After Divorce"

Read this Atlantic story here.

January 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 29, 2023


From Psychology Today:

January is often referred to as "divorce month" because many people wait till after the holidays to make the decision to file for divorce. It is also a good time to come up with a temporary plan to ensure that your children's lives are not overly disrupted. Nesting may be the solution to that issue.

When I wrote my first post about birdnesting, also called nesting, about 10 years ago, very few people had heard of it. I had nested with my ex in the mid-1990s, and since then had helped many clients create nesting arrangements. Some articles had been written with criticisms of the idea. However, it was clear to me that most parents can nest with well-documented agreements. There was no guide to nesting so I developed a step-by-step system to help parents nest successfully.

In 2018, I was approached by an editor who had come across my original article. She said “Nesting is a “trending topic” and we would like you to write a book about it.” When the book was published, in 2020, still many had not heard of nesting. But people contacted me from all over the world for interviews.

Now more and more people have learned about nesting, and more divorcing couples are consulting with lawyers and mental health professionals about the advantages of nesting. There is even a Facebook group for parents who are birdnesting.

Read more here.

January 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Family Financial Stress

From Yahoo! News:

Parents have financial obligations for raising their children, with some estimates around $12,000 annually per child, but members of the "sandwich generation" are often financially supporting their own parent(s) as well.

A new survey shows that 66% of the sandwich generation — Americans who are raising or financially supporting children and also have at least one living parent age 65+ — are either "very stressed" (29%) or "somewhat stressed" (37%) about affording their family's financial obligations over the next 10 years. The Policygenius survey also found that more than half of the sandwich generation (52%) expect that supporting their parent(s) will cost just as much or even more than supporting their children over the next five years.

Other findings from the Policygenius Sandwich Generation Survey include:

  • When asked how they would pay for long-term care for their parent(s):

  • 24% haven't discussed financial needs, health care needs, a will, end-of-life care wishes, or estate planning with their aging parent(s).

  • 49% don't have life insurance to help financially support their loved ones after they die.

Read more here.

January 28, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 27, 2023

Ryznar: "Exams in the Time of ChatGPT"

Margaret Ryznar recently posted to SSRN her article Exams in the Time of ChatGPT, Washington and Lee Law Review Online (forthcoming).  Here is the abstract:

This article offers various methods to administer assessments while maintaining their integrity—after asking artificial intelligence writing tool ChatGPT for its views on the matter.  The sophisticated response of the chatbot, which students can use in their written work, only raises the stakes of figuring out how to administer exams fairly. 


From the Introduction:

I was ironically in the middle of grading a law school exam when my phone rang.  I ignored it, squinting at the exam in front of me, when my phone rang again.  This time, I lost my focus and reached for my phone.  

It was a text from my former college roommate: “Not sure if you’ve been following any of the buzz about ChatGPT, but this is pretty astonishing.”  She linked to an article claiming that something called the GPT-4 could pass the bar exam.

I’m not sure that’s possible, I thought before texting back and returning to grading.   

Just to be sure, the next day, I logged into ChatGPT.  I typed a question about the dead hand doctrine in Trusts & Estates and waited.  I had read hundreds of answers to some iteration of this question during the last decade of teaching at various different law schools.  Upon reading the answer from ChatGPT, I immediately knew that ChatGPT would be a force with which to reckon in legal education and practice.  And, ChatGPT would get even smarter with time—the more ChatGPT interacts with users and processes new information, the more intelligent it becomes. 

Since its introduction in late 2022, ChatGPT has created some concern in higher education, including in terms of assessing students.  Thus far, Chat GPT passed the bar exam that is used to license lawyers and the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) that is used to license doctors.  ChatGPT would have earned approximately a C+ at the University of Minnesota Law School and a B/B- in an MBA program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, both highly regarded graduate schools.  As one English teacher said, “Let me be candid (with apologies to all of my current and former students): What GPT can produce right now is better than the large majority of writing seen by your average teacher or professor.” 

Read the rest of the article here.

January 27, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Family Pressures in China

From the Financial Times:

This week, an estimated 200mn unmarried Chinese returned home to celebrate the lunar new year, arriving at houses filled with the aromas of steaming dumplings and fish and greeted by relatives brimming with questions about when they plan to get married and start a family.

The annual inquisition is such a predictable part of life for young Chinese that social media channels are filled with viral how-to guides coaching people on how to bat away pushy parents.

“Everyone has their own technique,” said a Beijing teacher in her late 20s, who has been keeping her boyfriend a secret from her family for years as a pre-emptive strategy against demands for marriage.

Young Chinese have for decades invented creative tactics to allay parental demands for marriage and grandchildren, put off by the exorbitant costs of modern child rearing while juggling taxing jobs and sky-high property prices in large cities.

The fight to get Chinese youngsters married and producing babies is moving from the family home into the political arena as the world’s most populous country enters a long-term and irreversible population decline.

Last week, Chinese authorities announced that a long-anticipated turning point had finally been reached: the population officially shrank in 2022 for the first time in 60 years, losing 850,000 people as deaths outstripped births.

Read more here.

January 26, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Papal Remarks

From AP:

Pope Francis criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality as “unjust,” saying God loves all his children just as they are and called on Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome LGBTQ people into the church.

“Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” Francis said during an exclusive interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

Francis acknowledged that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalize homosexuality or discriminate against LGBTQ people, and he himself referred to the issue in terms of “sin.” But he attributed such attitudes to cultural backgrounds, and said bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone.

Read more here.

January 26, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Clerking During Roe v. Wade

From NBC News:

Five decades ago, Jim Ziglar witnessed the landmark Roe v. Wade decision take shape inside the Supreme Court chambers.

“It was so surreal,” he said. “Just incredible.” 

In 1972, Ziglar was a recent law school graduate who had landed a one-year clerkship for Justice Harry Blackmun, the eventual author of the landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

In interviews with NBC News, Ziglar, now 77, and four others who clerked for the high court during the 1971-72 and 1972-73 terms, when Roe was argued and decided, said they knew the case was significant but could not fathom just how historical and divisive it would become.

Read more here.

January 26, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sleep Divorce

From Insider:

John Deary loves the wrestling poster he hung above his bed. 

The 35-year-old Philadelphia-based comedian says his girlfriend would nix it, along with his video game memorabilia, if they shared a bedroom. But they've slept in separate beds since moving in together in June, so Deary has free reign over his bedroom design — and how much space he takes up on the mattress. 

One in four Americans have chosen to sleep separately from their partners for a better night's rest, according to a 2017 survey from the National Sleep Foundation, the most recent data on the trend. The concept is now popular and polarizing enough to have a name, "sleep divorce."

Read more here.

January 26, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

7 Stages of Divorce

From Newsweek:

In 2020, after 12 years together—as well as two children, 10 pets, and five properties—my partner and I decided to call it quits. One of the first therapists I spoke to post-divorce said that the end of a marriage was a death of sorts, and I was going to go through the five stages of grief as a result: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Now that I have made my way through my divorce, it seems to me that grief might be too classy of a metaphor for the process. Grief elicits imagery of a gentle soul writing emotive poetry in the morning mist. Divorce, on the other hand, left me feeling like a contestant on Wipeout: completely battered, generally off balance, and surrounded by utter chaos.

With a little bit of distance from my chaos, I can see that my therapist had been right about there being stages of divorce, but she was a bit off with her warnings about what was coming my way. I can see seven stages in my rear-view mirror, not five, and I think it's worth warning other people about what their divorce obstacle course may look like.

Read more here.

January 25, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Tackling Divorce Like Tom Brady

From Forbes:

In October 2022, NFL quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bündchen, his wife, made an announcement to the world: “In recent days, my wife and I have finalized our divorce from one another after 13 years of marriage,” Tom shared on his Instagram account, with Gisele’s statement echoing back: “With much gratitude for our time together, Tom and I have amicably finalized our divorce.” Their careful wording made it clear that the divorce settlement was worked out well before the news of their marriage ending was confirmed to the press, meaning that the power couple had pulled off a quick and quiet divorce out of the public eye. (A rare feat, especially with certain celebrity couples doing the exact opposite these days.) Their perfectly executed approach is one we steer many clients toward today, whether they’re in Hollywood or the Big Apple. There is an appreciation for the privacy and resolution a divorce like this one yields, especially when children are involved. It was handled strategically and purposefully, and out of the courtroom — a “model” for how any couple can work together to achieve similar results.

Here’s how to tackle your divorce like Tom and Gisele.

Read more here.

January 24, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 23, 2023

Cryptocurrency in Divorce

From South Carolina Public Radio:

Cryptocurrency continues to gain acceptance into investor portfolios. But because it has more complications than standard investments, it also introduces more complications into asset negotiations when a divorce arises. Mike Switzer interviews Stephanie Vokral, a certified financial planner and a certified divorce financial analyst with The Financial Knot, in Columbia, SC.

Listen to the short story here.

January 23, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Creativity Helps Divorce Lawyers

From the Indiana Lawyer:

Although the question of what to do with the family car is commonly asked when couples are divorcing, the decision became more fraught in 2021, when the global disruption brought on by the pandemic caused used-car prices to soar to new-car levels.

Kelly Lonnberg

Kelly Lonnberg, member at Stoll Keenon Ogden’s Evansville office and chair of the firm’s family law practice, described the rise in used car values as one of the “individual weirdnesses” that family lawyers have been encountering in these economically uncertain times.

Unemployment is low and wages remain healthy, but fluctuating values spurred by crimps in the supply chain as well as stumbles in the stock market and housing market are requiring family law practitioners to be creative when helping clients reach a marital dissolution agreement.

“It just seems like the stress of getting divorced is higher in the last three years than it was prior to that,” Lonnberg said. “Nothing’s really calmed down. You would think after the COVID numbers start going down that this would feel like a less stressful job, and somehow it has not.”

The challenges family law attorneys are facing have been induced by the 2022 economic upheaval.

Inflation returned as the consumer price index for urban consumers peaked at 9.1% in June 2022 before falling to 7.1% in December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Interest rates continued to climb, with the Federal Reserve boosting the benchmark rate to a range of 4.25% to 4.5% at the end of 2022, the highest level in 15 years. Also, on Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 dropped more than 20% from the record high set in January 2022.

Kate Burroughs

As a result, the values of homes and retirement accounts have been falling, creating a headache for family law attorneys trying to affix a worth to what many couples consider their major assets. In addition, the rising interest rates have put a strain on the selling or refinancing of marital homes.

Kathryn Burroughs, partner at Cross Glazier Reed Burroughs in Carmel, said attorneys are having to get creative to help their clients navigate the uncertain terrain.

“No matter what, divorce is an economic hardship, even on wealthy couples. They’re losing half their net marital estate,” Burroughs said. “But it impacts families without means much more greatly. If you don’t have savings and you don’t have many assets and all you have is credit card debt, it is really difficult to find solutions.”

Read more here.

January 22, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 20, 2023

Diss Tracks

From BBC:

You've been through a break-up. You're experiencing all the emotions - rage, grief, sadness and tears.

Coping strategies? You might binge a show, binge fast food, or unload your emotions into your private diary.

Or, if you're a world-famous musician, you might decide to record a scorching diss track taking aim at your ex.

Then, upload it to the internet, stand back and watch the sparks fly.

At least, that's what Shakira did with Out of Your League, her song about footballer ex Gerard Piqué which has broken YouTube records.

And she's not alone. Fans are convinced Flowers, by Miley Cyrus, is about her ex Liam Hemsworth.


The main reason for the genre's popularity is probably obvious: most of us get dumped (or do the dumping) at some point in our life.

It hurts. We can relate.

Read more here.


See the Shakira and Miley Cyrus Diss Tracks Here:




January 20, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Church of England: Blessing Same-Sex Couples

From the New York Times:

The Church of England apologized for its past treatment of L.G.B.T.Q. people on Friday, but said it would continue its practice of not allowing same-sex marriages in church, a reflection of a delicate balancing act that has once again highlighted stark divisions in the nearly 500-year-old institution.

Instead of backing same-sex unions, the church said it would offer clergy members new ways to “affirm and celebrate same-sex couples,” like prayers for “God’s blessing on the couple in church following a civil marriage or partnership.”

The policy shift, endorsed by bishops this week and outlined in a report released Friday, was seen by some as a mark of progress. But the report made clear that the blessings are not mandated and would be voluntary for clergy.

The apology, also contained in the report, said: “For the times we have rejected or excluded you, and those you love, we are deeply sorry. The occasions on which you have received a hostile and homophobic response in our churches are shameful and for this we repent.”

It continued, “We have not loved you as God loves you, and that is profoundly wrong.”

The planned blessings are the culmination of six years of consultations on same-sex marriage within the church. The proposal will be presented next month to the Church of England’s governing body, the General Synod, in the hope that it can curb decades of “damaging and bitter” division on the issue, the report said.

The Church of England is the original church in the global Anglican Communion, which now claims tens of millions of members in 165 countries. The communion has been engaged in a bitter debate over how to treat its L.G.B.T.Q. members since 2003, when the American branch — the Episcopal Church — consecrated an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. The communion has struggled to avoid schism as some provinces have moved to welcome L.G.B.T.Q. members and celebrate their relationships, while others — mostly in the global South — have remained vehemently opposed.

Read more here.

January 20, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

4th Time's the Charm

From Yahoo!:

Kim Kardashian hasn't ruled out a fourth marriage.

After being married to music producer Damon Thomas from 2000 to 2003, NBA player Kris Humphries from 2011 to 2013, and Kanye "Ye" West from 2014 to 2022, Kardashian says that she can still picture herself walking down the aisle again.

“I have this, like, fantasy in my head, like, ‘Fourth time’s a charm, it’s going to work out,’” she said during a Dec. 28 appearance on Gwyneth Paltrow's "The Goop Podcast."

“I feel like honestly, my last marriage was my first real [marriage]. The first one, I just don’t know what was happening,” Kardashian continued. “The second one, I felt like I wanted to be married so badly because all my friends were at that place and that’s where I should have been. And I didn’t accept that just wasn’t where I was and realized that was OK.”

However, the SKIMS founder noted that she's in no rush to be in another long-term relationship. If anything, she would be "OK with a forever partnership," she said.

“I have a lot of girlfriends that have been married, don’t like the experience of it, or the ending of it, and don’t want to go through that again so are fine with a forever partner," she said. "I think I would definitely want — I would want a marriage, but I’m so happy to take my time."

Read more here.

January 20, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Indonesia's Ban on Sex Outside Marriage

From CNN:

When Indonesia passed controversial amendments to its criminal code [last] month, one aspect above all others dominated the headlines: the criminalization of sex outside marriage.

Tourism figures warned it would put foreigners off visiting and hurt Indonesia’s global reputation – no small matters in a country that welcomed up to 15 million international travelers annually before the pandemic and recently held the G20 presidency for the first time in its history.

Officials have since played down the likelihood of tourists being charged, but hundreds of millions of Indonesians still face the prospect of up to a year in jail for the same offense – and rights activists warn that this is only the start of the new code’s potential to threaten Indonesians’ personal freedoms and civil liberties. Indonesian officials, on the other hand, defend the move as a necessary compromise in a democracy that is home to the world’s largest Muslim population.

Read more here.

January 19, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Memorable Engagements

From the New York Times:

Couples who married in 2022 have had some of their most formative years together during the pandemic, and many have said they developed a strong bond during the time they spent together at home during lockdowns.

This past year saw the return of larger gatherings, including concerts, parties and weddings. But many of these couples’ proposals happened in 2020 and 2021 — the two most socially distanced years. This didn’t stop people from getting creative, and extra thoughtful, when popping the big question to their significant others.

A college events manager hid a ring in a piñata, and a psychology professor embedded his proposal into an escape room clue. A strategy director presented a symbolic painting to his partner, while a history lecturer proposed with a rock in lieu of a ring.

Here are 10 of the best proposals from couples who were featured in The New York Times Weddings pages this year.

Read the article here.

January 18, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

"There’s No Way to Repair Marriage Without Repairing Men"

Read this article from the Atlantic here.


January 17, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)