Family Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Maine: Child Welfare System Is Under Stress Due to Pandemic

From Bangor Daily News:

Moran, the family services coordinator at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, increasingly heard from families stressed by the coronavirus pandemic, dealing with job losses and challenges of managing school or child care at home. The social connections that help protect children likely eroded and have not yet recovered, Moran fears.

The pandemic obscured a child welfare system under scrutiny after the high-profile deaths of Kendall Chick in 2017 and Marissa Kennedy months later. The number of children in state custody rose while reports nosedived and largely rebounded. Maine is struggling to implement reforms, though the state touts progress on staffing, turnover and pandemic-related challenges.

The number of incidents of abuse or neglect — adjusted for the amount of time kids spent in state custody — rose from January to June 2020 before gradually declining.

Read more here.

June 15, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 14, 2021

Landmark Decision in Fertility Clinic Case

From the Washington Post:

The devastating news landed in the inboxes of the fertility clinic patients early one morning in March 2018.

A tank storing frozen human embryos and eggs at Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco had failed, potentially destroying the precious cells that scores of people hoped would one day bring them biological children. Some might still be viable, the clinic told them in the alert, but the full extent of the damage was unclear.

On Thursday, after more than three years of litigation in federal court, a jury in California awarded five of the patients who lost embryos and eggs a combined $15 million in damages — a historic verdict that could have far-reaching consequences for the loosely regulated U.S. fertility industry.

...

The verdict appears to mark the first time a jury has awarded damages in a case involving the destruction of eggs and embryos, according to experts in family law. The outcome could serve as a bellwether not just for the hundreds of other plaintiffs with claims pending against Chart and the fertility clinic but for others whose dreams of becoming parents were dashed by similar errors, they said.

“This is a landmark case,” said Naomi R. Cahn, director of the University of Virginia’s Family Law Center. “In the past, many of these cases have settled, but here, we have a definitive jury verdict, holding the tank manufacturer primarily responsible, but with the clinic also responsible.”

In court papers, attorneys said the embryos and eggs lost represented the only chance for some of the patients to conceive children. The emotion in the courtroom was palpable when the jury delivered the verdict, they said.

Read more here.

June 14, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Maryland: Adolescents May Access to Mental Health Care Without Informed Consent from Their Parent or Guardians

From wtopNews:

Following contentious debate during the 2021 legislative session, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) has allowed a bill to let minors as young as 12-years-old to seek mental and emotional health care without their parent or guardians’ consent to become law.

The bill establishes that minors aged 12 to 16 can consent to mental and emotional health care consultations and be diagnosed and treated without permission from their parents if a health care provider determines that they are mature and capable enough to give informed consent.

Maryland is not the first state to allow minors to consent to outpatient therapy. A 2015 report from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, listed California, Georgia, Illinois and West Virginia as states with similar laws.

Read more here.

June 14, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Justice Department Says It Can ‘Vigorously’ Defend Religious Schools’ Exemption From Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination Laws

From The Washington Post:

The Justice Department in a court filing Tuesday said it can “vigorously” defend a religious exemption from federal civil rights law that allows federally funded religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students, a move that surprised some LGBTQ advocates who said the wording went further than just an obligation to defend an existing law.

In the filing, the Biden administration said it “shares the same ultimate objective” as the conservative Christian schools named in the case.

At issue in Hunter v. the U.S. Department of Education are 40 LGBTQ students at conservative religious colleges and universities who are suing the government for its role in providing funding to schools with discriminatory policies. The schools say they have a First Amendment right to promote traditional religious beliefs about sexuality and gender.

The motion, which was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Oregon, said in a note that “To be sure, the Federal Defendants have not yet filed any pleading or motion setting forth their legal position in this case.”

Read more here. 

June 13, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Democrats Reintroduce Legislation To Protect Abortion Access Around The Country

From NBC News:

Congressional Democrats reintroduced legislation on Tuesday that would protect abortion access around the country, even if Roe v. Wade were weakened or overturned.

The Women’s Health Protection Act, if passed, would guarantee the right for health care professionals to provide abortion care and their patients to receive care, without restrictions and bans that impede access.

Specifically, it would prohibit state and federal lawmakers from imposing several limits on abortion care, including mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods, admitting privileges requirements, and limits on medication abortion.

The bill was first introduced in 2013 and has been reintroduced in every congressional session since. However, it has never received a vote in either chamber.

Read more here

June 12, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 11, 2021

Illinois Measure Is Intended To Prevent Juveniles' False Confessions

From NPR:

Illinois is set to become the first state in the country to bar police from lying to kids during criminal interrogations. That legislation is intended to help prevent false confessions by juveniles.

Under the bill, if police lie to a juvenile during an interrogation about the facts of the case, like telling them a witness saw you do this, or if they lie about the consequences of confessing, telling them, just say you did it, and you get to go home, the juvenile's confession will be thrown out. The legislation has the support of law enforcement and prosecutor groups in the state.

Young people under age 18 are about two to three times more likely than adults to confess to crimes that they didn't commit.

Read more here. 

June 11, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Baby Brokers: Inside America’s Murky Private-Adoption Industry

From Time:

[A]t any given time, an estimated 1 million U.S. families are looking to adopt—many of them seeking infants. That figure dramatically outpaces the number of available babies in the country. Some hopeful parents turn to international adoption, though in recent years other countries have curtailed the number of children they send abroad. There’s also the option to adopt from the U.S. foster-care system, but it’s an often slow-moving endeavor with a limited number of available infants. For those with means, there’s private domestic adoption.

Problems with private domestic adoption appear to be widespread. Interviews with dozens of current and former adoption professionals, birth parents, adoptive parents and reform advocates, as well as a review of hundreds of pages of documents, reveal issues ranging from commission schemes and illegal gag clauses to Craigslistesque ads for babies and lower rates for parents willing to adopt babies of any race. No one centrally tracks private adoptions in the U.S., but best estimates, from the Donaldson Adoption Institute (2006) and the National Council for Adoption (2014), respectively, peg the number of annual nonrelative infant adoptions at roughly 13,000 to 18,000. Public agencies are involved in approximately 1,000 of those, suggesting that the vast majority of domestic infant adoptions involve the private sector—and the market forces that drive it.

Even though federal tax credits can subsidize private adoptions (as much as $14,300 per child for the adopting parents), there is no federal regulation of the industry. Relevant laws—governing everything from allowable financial support to how birth parents give their consent to an adoption—are made at the state level and vary widely. Some state statutes, for example, cap birth-mother expenses, while others don’t even address the issue. Mississippi allows birth mothers six months to change their mind; in Tennessee, it’s just three days. After the revocation period is over, it’s “too bad, so sad,” says Renee Gelin, president of Saving Our Sisters, an organization aimed at helping expectant parents preserve their families. “The mother has little recourse.”

Read more here

June 10, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Uncoupling

From Bella DePaulo at Medium:

June 9, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Supreme Court Turns Away Challenge To The Rule That Only Men Register For The Draft

From NPR:

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to consider a challenge to the men-only military draft.

In an accompanying statement, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh acknowledged that when the draft was originally enacted, women were not eligible for combat roles, a situation that has dramatically changed in modern times.

But they noted Congress is currently considering the question of including women in the draft registration. In 2016 it created the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service to study the matter, and the commission has now released a final report recommending that draft registration include both men and women between the ages of 18 and 26.

Read more here

June 8, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 7, 2021

Convicted For 'Advertising' Abortion, German Doctors Are Fighting To Share The Facts

From CNN:

Abortions are regulated by Germany's criminal code. They are permitted up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, but people seeking the procedure must attend a compulsory counseling session, which is followed by a mandatory three-day waiting period. After 12 weeks, terminations are only allowed under some exceptions, such as if the pregnancy or birth poses a risk to the mother's physical or mental health.

But the law doesn't just regulate the procedure itself. It also restricts abortion providers from publicly sharing any information about it. Until 2019, the law prohibited doctors from even disclosing the fact that they perform abortions. Now they can say that, but once they do, they are forbidden from sharing anything else.
 
While abortion is permitted in Germany, access to it is also somewhat limited.
One reason is the fact that roughly a third of Germany's hospitals are run by Christian charities and non-profits that do not provide abortions because of their beliefs. Doctors can cite conscientious objection against performing terminations.
 
[A] doctor who has also been convicted for having information on abortion on her website said she is concerned about patients not being able to find the facts they need they need to make an informed decision. [She] was fined €6,000 ($7,320) in 2017 and has since embarked on a journey through the German court system with the ultimate goal of having the ban struck down. She has appealed the verdict and filed a complaint to Germany's Federal Constitutional Court.
 
Read more here

June 7, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Chile: Same-Sex Marriage Bill May No Longer Stuck in Congress

From Reuters:

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said on Tuesday he would seek to expedite a same-sex marriage bill that has languished in the historically conservative South American nation for years.

Chile's LGBT community has long pushed for the legislation, but the country's ruling conservative coalition has until now been slow to advance the bill in Congress.

The bill, if passed, would cement an increasingly progressive tack in Chile, an Andean nation until recently dominated by a conservative, Catholic culture.

Read more here.

June 6, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 5, 2021

China Now Allows Couples to Have 3 Children

From Hindustan Times:

China is facing the problem of  increased aging population and declined birth rate.

For almost 40 years, China enforced a controversial "one-child policy."

Despite government efforts to encourage childbirths, China's annual births have continued to plummet to a record low of 12 million in 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics said last month.

Read more here.

 

 

June 5, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 4, 2021

Australia: Private Children's Contact Services Secure Child Visits

From ABC News:

Having an order as a result of court process does not guarantee a parent's child visits. Parent who has attempted to sign up for a government-funded centre in Western Sydney will likely face a minimum of six months of waiting time. The existence of COVID increased to a more than a year wait list.

Accordingly, parents turned to private market for help because sector is unregulated. Sahil shouldered the cost of enrolment for both parents, which was $400, and then he would spend $100 each hour to see his son.

The wait list and an inability to be open on weekends due to poor funding has contributed to the emergence of a soaring unregulated private market.

Read more here.

June 4, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Child Care Workforce is Facing Demand Shift

From Bloomberg Law:

"From what I’m hearing from directors, staffing is challenge A, B, C, and D,” says Elliot Haspel, a child care policy expert and author of Crawling Behind: America’s Child Care Crisis and How to Fix It. “Child care was already having issues before with staffing, and this will make it so much worse. This means parents will have less options, and some programs will have a budgetary death spiral. It’s truly an existential crisis.”

Conversations with experts and analysis of child care requests across the U.S. suggest that finding qualified workers is a significant challenge, right as school gets out for the summer and more parents begin returning to the office.

Part of the problem comes from a dramatic demand shift. Expert found a striking disparity between suburban and urban locations.

Read more here.

 

 

June 3, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Connecticut Parenting Bill

From NBC News:

On Tuesday, the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month, Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, signed a ceremonial copy of the Connecticut Parentage Act into law. The measure, which was officially signed last week and takes effect Jan. 1, will make it easier for those who don’t share a biological connection with their child to establish parentage.

LGBTQ couples face challenge on adoption process. With no second-parent-adoption process, their parental rights are limited. As a result, it often causes extra paperwork and preparation for children's routine activities.

One of the benefits this bill brings is that it allows couples to establish parentage through a simple administrative form, which gives LGBTQ families a sigh of relief.

Read more here.

June 2, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Child's Vaccination-Related Family Disputes in Canada

From Law Times:

In family law disputes over the vaccination of children, caselaw suggests courts will follow government health recommendations on vaccine safety in determining the best interests of the child.

In a child custody case, the judge noted the issue over whether the child would take the COVID vaccine would be an imminent concern. The court granted the mother sole custody, though, the father was given exclusive authority over all future vaccination decisions for the child when it was proved that the mother was negligent in their child's healthcare, specifically she did not comply with the vaccination schedule.

The court considered the father had the child's best interests with respect to the vaccination decisions for complying with the government health recommendations. 

Read more here.

June 1, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 31, 2021

Cryptocurrency is Not Traditional Investment in Divorce Settlement

From CNBC:

Cryptocurrency has increasingly become a factor in divorce settlements as bitcoin, dogecoin and other types gain mainstream acceptance and values spike. 

More than 20 million Americans may own cryptocurrency. Splitting digital currency may be more complex than traditional investments, such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.

One of the tricky aspects of splitting up cryptocurrency is nailing down the value. Taxes are another aspect to consider during the divorce negotiations. After signing their divorce paperwork, couples may have a new challenge: transferring cryptocurrency from one spouse to another. 

Read more here.

May 31, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 30, 2021

U.S. Changes Policy That Denied Citizenship To The Children of Same-Sex Couples

From CBS News:

The U.S. State Department has revoked a policy that made it difficult for the children of same-sex parents to recognized as U.S. citizens at birth. The previous policy stated that the U.S. citizen parent had to be biologically related to the child in order for them to have U.S. citizenship at birth. So, if one person in a couple was not a U.S. citizen, and that person was the biological parent of their child, the child was also not a citizen.

The department insisted a married U.S. citizen must have a biological connection to their child to pass on birthright citizenship, according to Immigration Equality, an LGBTQ immigration rights organization. However, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, there is no requirement for a biological relationship for married parents, according to Immigration Equality. Every federal court that heard the issue decided the State Department's policy was inconsistent with the statute. 

So, as of Tuesday, the State Department's policy has changed. "Children born abroad to parents, at least one of whom is a U.S. citizen and who are married to each other at the time of the birth, will be U.S. citizens from birth if they have a genetic or gestational tie to at least one of their parents and meet the INA's other requirements," the department said.

In a statement to CBS News, the State Department said the "updated interpretation and application of the INA takes into account the realities of modern families and advances in assisted reproductive technology (ART) unforeseen when the Act was enacted in 1952."

Read more here.

May 30, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Governor Of Texas Has Signed A Law That Bans Abortion As Early As 6 Weeks

From NPR:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed into law a bill that bans abortion the moment a fetal heartbeat has been detected, a move that makes Texas the largest state in the nation to outlaw abortion so early in a pregnancy.

The Texas law effectively prohibits any abortion after around six weeks of pregnancy — before many women are even aware they are pregnant.

The bill, which takes effect in September, makes no exception for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest but does include a rare provision that allows individual citizens to sue anyone they believe may have been involved in helping a pregnant individual violate the ban. The provision cannot be used against pregnant people, but reproductive rights advocates warn it can be used to target abortion providers and abortion-rights activists.

The new law adds Texas to a growing list of states with conservative leaders that have passed increasingly restrictive abortion laws as part of an effort to challenge the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and other U.S. Supreme Court precedent guaranteeing the right to an abortion.

Read more here.

May 29, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 28, 2021

Afghanistan: Unravelling of Women and Girls’ Rights Looms As Peace Talks Falter

From Amnesty International:

As international troops continue to leave the country ahead of a full withdrawal on 11 September, and with talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban at an impasse, the prospects for Afghanistan’s women and girls are at a critical juncture. A new date for a high-level round of peace talks in Istanbul, postponed since April, is yet to be confirmed.

Under Taliban rule from 1996-2001, Afghan women were subjected to severe restrictions including being banned from working outside the home and appearing in public without a close male relative. Women and girls were further denied access to education and had limited access to healthcare. These restrictions still invariably apply to women in areas currently controlled by the Taliban.

While much work remains to be done, women’s rights have improved significantly since 2001. There are now 3.3 million girls in education, and women more actively participate in the political, economic and social life of the country. Despite ongoing conflict, Afghan women have become lawyers, doctors, judges, teachers, engineers, athletes, activists, politicians, journalists, bureaucrats, business owners, police officers, and members of the military.

However, Afghan women still face major obstacles to the full realization of their rights. Violence against women is rife, the participation of women at all levels of government remains limited and, according to UNICEF, 2.2 million Afghan girls still do not attend school.

Read more here.

May 28, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)