Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, November 27, 2021

UN, Foundation Launch Foster Care for Migrant Kids in Mexico

From AP News:

The U.N. Commission on Refugees and a private foundation announced a sort of foster-care program Friday to place about 120 unaccompanied minor migrants with Mexican families for up to two years.

Foster families of the type known in the United States don’t generally exist in Mexico; adoption laws are extremely strict and children in shelters or orphanages are almost always placed with relatives.

Mexico has seen refugee and asylum applications shoot up this year to over 108,000; about 18,000 are children and around 1,000 were not accompanied by a relative.

Read more here. 

November 27, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 26, 2021

New Study Examines Effects of Divorce on Children as Separation Rates Rise Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

From KMOV4 St. Louis:

A new Washington University study is taking a closer look at the emotional toll divorce has on children, as some studies suggest the divorce rate nationwide grew 34 percent in 2020.

The Child Affect and Resilience to Experiences study marks the fist study to look at changes in the brain and biological system of children experiencing parental divorce, separation or conflict. In doing so, researchers study how the child's brain and biological system interacts with supportive caregiving during the stressful event, such as a divorce. Researchers believe some children who experience parental divorce are more likely to struggle with mental health problems when they get older.

Read more here. 

November 26, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Divorced Parents Are Going to Court Over COVID-19 Vaccines For Their Children

From Today:

For many separated or divorced parents, the COVID-19 vaccine for children isn't a relief, but rather another source of co-parenting contention.

More and more co-parents are going to court over COVID-19 vaccines for children.

"There has been a significant increase" in court cases, lawyer Hillary Moonay, a partner at Oberymayer law firm's family law department, tells TODAY. "Now... disputes are creeping into flu vaccine concerns as well. I believe this is primarily because parents who do not want their child to get the COVID-19 vaccine believe it helps their position if they now claim they do not want their child to get the flu vaccine either."

"Most commonly, judges are not deciding whether a child should receive the vaccine but, instead, awarding one parent sole legal custody to make that decision," Moonay explains. "Judges are primarily relying upon the recommendations of the children’s pediatrician or family doctor to reach a decision. Additionally, judges are considering whether a child has had other childhood vaccines without the objection of either parent."

Dr. Amanda Craig, PhD, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist practicing in New York City . . . adds that arguments surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine are, frequently, not about the vaccine at all, but about deeper issues within the co-parenting relationship.

Read more here. 

November 25, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Philadelphia Reaches $2 Million Settlement With Catholic Foster-care Agency

From the Pittsburg Post-Gazette:

Philadelphia’s four-year legal battle with a Catholic foster care agency over its refusal to work with same-sex parents officially ended quietly this fall with the city agreeing to pay $2 million in legal fees and to renew the agency’s contract.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected Philadelphia’s decision to terminate a contract with Catholic Social Services over its refusal to consider same-sex married couples as potential foster parents. That decision sent the dispute back to the appellate court. But ultimately the city decided not to pursue further legal challenges and came to a resolution approved by the U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 1 but not previously made public.

Under the agreement, the city paid the law firm that represented Catholic Social Services, Beckett Law, $1.95 million in legal fees. Another $56,000 was paid to Catholic Social Services.

Read more here. 

November 24, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

My Child’s Adoption is Finalized, What Do I Do Next? Five Steps to Take After Your Child’s Adoption is Finalized

From JD Supra:

Though finalization will seem like the end of a very long road, there are aspects that still need to be completed after the finalization to make sure your adoption is complete.

Once your adoption is complete and you obtain a Final Decree of Adoption, you can apply for an amended birth certificate for the child that has your name(s) as parents and the child’s new legal name after the adoption. 

Once you receive your amended birth certificate, you can apply for a social security number for the child at any Social Security Office.

Make sure you know what is expected of your family regarding post-adoption contact with the biological family.

There is a federal adoption tax credit that adoptive parents are eligible for the year after they finalize their adoption. Some states also have their own adoption tax credits or reimbursements.

It is important to check with your employer and human resources department to see if you qualify for any adoption and/or legal service reimbursement.

Read more here. 

November 23, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 22, 2021

In Afghanistan, Climate Change Drives an Uptick in Child Marriage

From Undark Magazine:

Child marriage is not a new phenomenon in South Asia, and despite attempts to legislate against it, the practice remains common across Afghanistan. Reports suggest a spike in such marriages, spurred by the violence that preceded the Taliban takeover, and by the effects of climate change on this agrarian country. Over the past half century, temperatures here have risen nearly twice the amount they have globally, speeding up evaporation and leading to extended droughts. This, experts say, has decreased crop yields and plunged many Afghans into poverty as they are no longer able to make a living from the land. With few viable employment options, some families are turning to a traditional wedding custom known as toyana, whereby money is given to the family of the girl. With little time to spare, these families say, the best available option is a heart-wrenching one: to marry their daughters while the girls are still young. 

Child marriages are not usually documented in Afghanistan and data collection is limited. However, several nongovernmental organizations have observed a rise in child marriages, corresponding with increased periods of drought. In 2018, for example, the worst Afghan drought in a decade affected two-thirds of the country and displaced more people than the growing conflict between the Taliban rebels and the Afghan government. A report from UNICEF that same year noted that “drought has exacerbated the practice of child marriage affecting at least 161 children” from two provinces.

Read more here. 

November 22, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Missouri: Proposed Law Would Make Drunk Drivers Liable For Child Support

From KWTV:

Surviving children of parents who were taken away by other drunk drivers need care and support. A woman in Missouri proposed a law to require drunk drivers to pay child support when an accident they cause kills a parent or parents.

This woman lost three loved ones including an infant grandson in a recent accident involving an allegedly drunk driver. While pushing Missouri legislators to support this proposed law, she named the law after a surviving grandson called "Bentley's Law."

Currently, Missouri State Representative plans to introduce "Bentley's Law" during the next legislative session. It is believed that proposed law could deter drunk drivers. At the same time, surviving children without parents need some help.

Read more here.

November 21, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 20, 2021

China: Percentage Of Newly Married Couples Dropped Since 2019

From Global Times:

Both in cities and countryside, young people's willingness to get married is declining from the fact that the number of newly married couples in the first three quarters has dropped by 17.5%. According to statistics from China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, there were 5.88 million newly married couples in the first three quarters of 2021. Another study shows that from 2013 to 2020, the number of marriage registrations fell from 13.47 million couples to 8.13 million.

The director of population development said that the fall indicates a decrease of married women of child-bearing age, and this may likely decrease the number of newborn babies. Whether living in urban or rural areas is not a factor. Young people from countryside do not consider marriage as inevitable and women had the lowest willingness to get married. Many factors contribute to the outcome, such as more stress from living cost and longer period of education to be received.

China's cabinet decided in late September to repeal three administrative regulations related to family planning policies, including regulations on technical services for family planning, social maintenance fees and family planning work for the migrant population.

Read more here.


November 20, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 19, 2021

National Campaign Launches New PSAs To Encourage Adoptions Of Teens In Foster Care

From WFMZ Allentown:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), AdoptUSKids, and the Ad Council today launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) that encourage prospective parents to adopt teens from foster care. The new PSAs are inspired by true stories of teens adopted from foster care who went through the adoption process.

Teens (13–18 years of age) comprise 21% of the children/youth waiting to be adopted in the foster care system, but account for only 10% of those adopted. Teenagers in foster care can face a particularly challenging time getting adopted and may wait up to twice as long to achieve permanency than younger children.

The campaign's newest work launches following the release of a six-episode podcast, Navigating Adoption: Presented by AdoptUSKids. This series allows prospective adoptive families to learn about the rewards of adoption through heartfelt interviews with adopted youth, their parents and experts in the field. Episodes cover everything from separation, loss, and trauma to how families can create support networks.

Read more here.



November 19, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Canada: The Issue Of Parent's Unvaccinated Status And His Parenting Time Rights

From Law Times:

The issue of a parent's unvaccinated status and his parenting time rights has been resolved in the U.S. Similarly, the Ontario Court of Justice has decided in cases involving the same issue. The ruling is that a father's decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID does not deprive him of parenting time. This decision relies on the analysis of what is in the best interest of the child.

The mother in the case sought an order that the father's parenting time be supervised due to the concern of his unvaccinated status. The father responded by claiming that he had no intention to get vaccinated for this action is contrary to his Rastafarian beliefs. However, the father agreed to take safety precautions during his parenting time, including wearing a mask. He also attested that the paternal grandmother who would be supervising the visit is fully vaccinated and he is comfortable with taking the child to her home. In addressing this matter, court weighed whether it is in the best interest of the child.

The court concluded that despite the unvaccinated status of child's father, it is still in the best interest of the child to have a meaningful relationship with her father. The court continued and noted that if the restrictions of protecting child from the likelihood of infection are violated, the mother may suspended father's in-person parenting time.

Read more here.


November 18, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

California Plans To Become The Nation's Abortion Provider

From Los Angeles Times:

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders have asked a group of reproductive health experts to propose policies to prepare it for more patients and abortion provides are grinding for a surge in demand.

Recent Texas abortion ban caused more and more out-of-state patients coming to the Planned Parenthood of California. The medical director of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino counties said that three or four of those patients visit her clinics each day.Planned Parenthood clinics in California say they already serve about 7,000 out-of-state patients a year and are expecting a surge of new ones, especially in travel hubs like the Los Angeles area.

If the strict abortion rights are banned nationally, California's clinics expect to 50 out-of-state patients a week. Clinics start to make plans to expand the appointment capacity in order to accommodate everyone. 

Read more here.

November 17, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Many Children Are Released From Detention During COVID


Detention of children has been difficult when there is an increasing risk of contacting COVID in confined and overcrowded spaces. Immediate released of children from detention is demanded. Since April 2020, at lease 84 countries have released thousands of children from detention.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of children are deprived of their liberty according to the reports released ahead of the World Congress on Justice with Children. UNICEF Executive Director promotes the child friendly justice solutions. 

Children in detention – including in pre- and post-trial custody, immigration detention, held in relation to armed conflict or national security, or living with parents in detention – are often held in confined and overcrowded spaces. They lack adequate access to nutrition, healthcare and hygiene services, and are vulnerable to neglect, physical and psychological abuse, and gender-based violence. Many are denied access to lawyers and family care, and unable to challenge the legality of their detention.

Since COVID has profoundly affected justice for children, child friendly justice can be a possible way to help resolving the issues.

Read more here.

November 16, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cahn's Review of Damaske

From Family Law JOTWELL:

In the early days of the pandemic, the unemployment rate reached close to 15% , and the number of families that had at least one unemployed person doubled, to almost 10%. Those unemployment rates vary by race and gender: Black and Hispanic families were more likely to have one unemployed person than white or Asian families, and, several months into the pandemic, the US Census reported that women were more than twice as likely as men not to be working because of child care issues.

These statistics suggest profound impacts on the family. Enter sociologist Sarah Damaske’s new book, The Tolls of Uncertainty: How Privilege and the Guilt Gap Shape Unemployment in America (2021). The Tolls of Uncertainty explores the intersections between unemployment and family obligation through interviews with 100 people in urban and rural Pennsylvania. Damaske debunks various myths about the unemployed, such as that they are lazy or clearly differ from the employed, and shows that although men may face expectations to be the breadwinners, ”women appear to bear much higher levels of guilt and shame for losing their jobs.” (P. 14.) And the book proposes policies that support not just the unemployed but also their families.

The story of unemployment unfolds in the book’s three major sections, the first on losing a job, the second on the consequences, and the final section on the struggles people face in returning to work. Damaske began her research in 2012, just after the Great Recession, but during a time of economic growth. Although situated during a particular time period, the book offers enduring lessons about unemployment and the family, regardless of the national economic picture – and, as Damaske explained in a May 2021 New York Times article, the pandemic provides yet another example of how job loss affects men and women differently.

Read more here.

November 16, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Poor Regulation of Fertility Industry

From Naomi Cahn (UVA) and Dena Sharp (UC Hastings), writing for the Conversation:

When embryologist Joseph Conaghan arrived at work at San Francisco’s Pacific Fertility Center on March 4, 2018, nothing seemed awry. He did routine inspections of the facility’s cryogenic tanks, which store frozen embryos and eggs for clients who hope to someday have biological children.

But what he found was not routine; it was an emergency. Almost all of the liquid nitrogen inside Tank 4 had drained out. Conaghan and his staff tried to save 80 metal boxes of frozen reproductive material, but it was too late. The contents had warmed, damaging or destroying 1,500 eggs and 2,500 embryos.

Some belonged to a couple who traveled cross-country from their farm in Ohio, hoping to build their family from frozen embryos. A single woman in her early 40s was hoping to soon use her preserved eggs with “Mr. Right.”

For many, infertility is a significant challenge: In 2018, 12.7% of American women sought infertility services, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. As experts on regulation of the fertility industry, we are concerned about protecting those who need these interventions. There is little oversight in the U.S. of the industry, with no requirement that clinics report problems – including tank failures. As Professor Dov Fox of the University of San Diego Law School told a reporter: “These tanks specifically, they’re not regulated any better than kitchen appliances or farm tools.”

Read more here.

November 15, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ohio: Amending Prenups Might Be Possible For Married Couples

From WKSU News:

Ohio, among few other states, prohibits married couples to enter into legally binding private contracts with each other after marriage.

A bill to change that is moving forward in the Ohio Senate, and supporters say the proposed law would also create more flexibility for prenuptial agreements.

The bill, SB210, would make postnuptial contracts legally binding while also allowing couples to amend prenuptial agreements. This is important for married couples in Ohio as the majority of states nationwide would allow postnupital contracts amendment. Many things can change before and after marriage. Additionally, there are many variables among marriage. Tax issues, property distribution, or even responsibilities between the couple. Having a long-term happy and peaceful marriage is one big goal for married people nowadays. While people are generally free to consider divorce, prenups and postnupital contracts still have binding power and may promote the longevity of marriage.

Read more here.

November 15, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Twenty Democratic AGs Back Challenge to Indiana Abortion Law

From Reuters:

A group of 20 Democratic state attorneys general have urged a federal appeals court to uphold a lower court ruling striking down several restrictions on abortion in Indiana, including a ban on prescribing medication via telemedicine to induce abortion.

The states, including Illinois, California, New York and Massachusetts, said in an amicus brief filed Monday with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker in Indianapolis properly considered the burdens placed on women, especially low-income ones, by the restrictions.

The states said Monday that it was necessary to look not only at precedent but at "the facts and circumstances on the ground," such as how far women must travel to obtain abortion under the rules, to determine whether the rules were an undue burden.

Twenty-two Republican-led states previously filed a brief in Indiana's support.

Read more here. 

November 14, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 13, 2021

California Couple Sue Clinic For Alleged IVF Swap 'horror'

From BBC News:

Daphna and Alexander Cardinale say they gave birth in September 2019 to a girl that looked nothing like them. After a DNA test, they found the couple that carried their daughter to term, and together decided to swap the girls.

The Cardinales are suing the Los Angeles-based fertility centre, the California Center for Reproductive Health (CCRH), as well as In VitroTech Labs, an embryology lab. The lawsuit alleges medical malpractice, negligence and fraudulent concealment.

According to the lawsuit, the couple sought help from the fertility clinic in the summer of 2018. Mrs Cardinale gave birth the next year to a child they thought was theirs.

Nearly two months later the family decided to take at-home DNA tests, which ultimately determined they were not biologically related to the infant.

The CCRH then helped them find the California couple who had carried their daughter and had given birth to another healthy girl a week apart. The Cardinales' daughter was around four months old when they first met. After several meetings, the couples agreed to go through the legal process of formally exchanging the babies, which happened in January 2020.

Read more here. 

November 13, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 12, 2021

Proposed Missouri Law Would Make Drunken Drivers Pay Child Support If Parent Is Killed In Accident

From USA Today:

A woman tasked with raising her son's two children after he, his fiancé and their infant were killed by a drunken driver, is fighting to propose a new law that will put drunken drivers on the hook for child support.

"Bentley's Law" would make drunken drivers who cause the death of a parent responsible for paying child support to a surviving spouse or relative raising the children until they are 18

Williams has gotten support from state Rep. Mike Henderson, and legislators in Tennessee have also gained interest in the proposed law. She told the Daily Journal she hopes to make the law national. 

November 12, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 11, 2021

You May Not Get to Reduce Your Alimony if Your Voluntary Sale of Your Business Reduces Your Income

From JD Supra:

what if, a solo or small practice gets voluntarily sold reducing the professional’s ability to pay alimony and child support.  Can that professional come to court to get a reduction in his support obligations?

This is exactly the scenario that took place in the case of  Oshidar v. Oshidar

In this case, the parties were divorced in 2012, after almost 20 years of marriage.  At the time, the husband, a dentist in his own practice, earned $428,127 per year. Just two years after the divorce, the husband sold his practice for $570,000 (receiving a down payment and then $96,300 per year for 5 years.)  Thereafter, he took a job as a dentist (employee) at a dental clinic earning roughly half of what he was previously earning. Not long after, he filed a motion to reduce his support obligations.

The Appellate Division liked [sic] the voluntary sale to someone voluntarily leaving a job.  The law is pretty clear that, in most cases, obligors cannot voluntarily change their jobs or their careers and then get a reduction in support, even if the change is made in good faith. 

Read more here

November 11, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Mississippi Privatized Child Support Collections. A New Report Says It Didn't Work Well.

From Mississippi Daily Journal:

A move by state government to privatize the management of a poorly performing child support system did not boost the amount of money collected, according to a government watchdog panel.

The Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, or PEER, released findings on Wednesday that raises questions about the management of a federally mandated child support enforcement program.

After full privatization, Mississippi’s performance on only two of five criteria the federal government uses to measure the performance of child support programs improved. Crucially, there was no improvement related to the collection of current child support payments or past-due child support payments.

In the most recent fiscal year studied by PEER, the current child support payment rate was 54%, the lowest of any contiguous state.

In that same year, the collection of past due child support payments was 58%. Among contiguous states, only Louisiana performed worse.

Read more here

November 10, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)