Family Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Officials Arrest 11 in California Involved in Using Phony Weddings to Obtain Citizenship

Calling it one of the biggest operations of its kind in the country, federal authorities Tuesday arrested 11 men and women in L.A. County, Orange County and the Bay Area for operating an alleged phony marriage scheme that targeted Asians seeking U.S. citizenship. Authorities said the document ring, which charged Chinese and Vietnamese nationals up to $60,000 to marry American citizens to obtain green cards, was unusually sophisticated. The couples produced fake wedding photographs, joint tax returns and even love letters. Marriage fraud is not a new phenomenon," said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement whose office is in Orange County, "but clearly this scheme was one of the most ambitious and creative we've ever encountered." Source: Anna Gorman and David Reyes, Los Angeles Times, For more information, please click here (last visited December 1, 2005, reo.)

November 30, 2005 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gallup Poll Says Americans Favor Parental Involvement in Teen Abortion Decisions

According to a Gallup poll released yesterday, most U.S. adults think parents should not just be notified, but should have to give their permission, before a minor daughter has an abortion. For more than a decade, Gallup has found roughly 7 in 10 Americans favoring laws that require women under 18 to receive parental consent for any abortion. The latest poll, conducted Nov. 11-13, finds 69% in favor and 28% opposed to such laws. Source: Lydia Saad, Gallup News Service, For more information, please click here (last visited December 1, 2005, reo.)

November 30, 2005 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Marriage of 13-Year-Old Daughter to 14-Year-Old-Boy Sends Father on Crusade to Change Georgia Law

Brandon Balch has launched a crusade to change Georgia law after learning that his 13-year-old daughter got married in Georgia to a 14-year-old boy. Georgia law allows minors to marry without parental consent if the bride-to-be is pregnant. A similar statue in Florida gives a judge discretion to issue a marriage license to minors without parental consent if the couple is expecting a child. Balch and his sister, Sharon Cline, have spent the last 18 months writing letters to lawmakers in both states urging them for tougher requirements before minors can wed. If he had known of his daughter's plan to marry, Balch would have appeared in court and opposed the marriage, he said. When his 13-year-old daughter got married, she was living with Balch's ex-wife in Alabama. ''Most states require the consent of parents,'' he said. ``At no time did they live together and function as a married couple. They both lived with their mothers, neither could work or drive.'' Source. Jennifer Lebovich, The Miami Herald, For more information, please click here (last visited December 1, 2005, reo.)

November 30, 2005 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

English PM Orders Abolition of Child Support Agency

English Prime Minister Tony Blair has ordered the break-up of the failing Child Support Agency, saying that it is not suited to the task of collecting child maintenance from reluctant fathers.  The Prime Minister told MPs yesterday that it was extremely difficult for one agency to assess claims, arbitrate in disputes and collect the cash, suggesting that at least one of these functions would be hived off to another organisation. The CSA, which costs £330 million a year to run, has been plagued with problems since it was set up ten years ago. More than one million calls to its helpline went unanswered last year and £1.7 billion in payments from estranged fathers are overdue. Figures released yesterday indicated that the agency collected £1.85 for every £1 spend on administration. Source: Rosemary Bennett, Depty Political Editor, TIMESONLINE, For more information, please click here (last visited December 1, 2005, reo.)

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November 30, 2005 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

One in Five Women in India is Domestic Violence Victim

One in every five women in India is a victim of domestic violence from the age of 15. And, less than 0.1 per cent of such cases are reported and investigated. A report titled “IPC Section 498A: Used or Misused” — a study conducted by Centre for Social Research with UNAIDS — obtained the information. Source: The Statesman, For more information, please click here (last visited December 1, 2005, reo.)

November 30, 2005 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Canadian Prime Minister Candidate Reopens Same-Sex Marriage Debate

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper reopened the hot-button issue of same-sex unions on his first day on the federal election trail Tuesday, saying he would hold a free vote on changing the definition of marriage if he becomes prime minister. Harper made the remark after Prime Minister Paul Martin announced Canadians will go to the polls on Jan. 23. Harper, who has long promised that if elected he would hold a free vote on marriage, raised the issue himself during a news conference Tuesday in Ottawa. Source: CBC News, For more information, please click here (last visited December 1, 2005, reo.)

November 30, 2005 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Proposed Wisconsin Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage In Legislative Committees

The proposed constitutional amendment banning marriage rights for gay couples is in front of two Wisconsin legislative committees.  The Republican controlled body first approved the amendment in 2004, but under Wisconsin law, the legislature must pass any amendment to the state Constitution in two consecutive sessions. The amendment's backers say it is necessary because the state's current law is too vague. Wisconsin law defines marriage as a union between a man and a wife. This amendment to the state constitution would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It would also stop the state from recognizing any legal status that is "substantially similar" to marriage, such as civil unions. Source: Jen Christensen, PlanetOut Network, For more information, please click here (last visited December 1, 2005, reo.)

November 30, 2005 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Case Law Development: Contempt for Unilateral Attempt to Change Visitation Schedule

In case involving a complex and contentious visitation plan, the Ohio Court of Appeals upheld contempt against Mother for attempting to change a visitation schedule without seeking amendment of the court order. The court rejected Mother’s argument that the court order was void because it had contained a provision invalidating the order upon Father’s failure to exercise visitation and that Father had failed to meet the required visitation schedule. The court sentenced her to thirty days in jail, suspended on condition that she purge her contempt by paying Father's attorneys fees and providing additional visitation.

Robinson v. Robinson, 2005 Ohio 6240; 2005 Ohio App. LEXIS 5612 (November 23, 2005)
Opinion on the web at (last visited November 29, 2005 bgf)

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November 29, 2005 in Visitation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Career Women Caring for Aging Parents

"Until last February, Mary Ellen Geist was the archetypal career woman, a radio news anchor with a six-figure salary and a suitcase always packed for the next adventure, whether a third-world coup, a weekend of wine tasting or a job in a bigger market. But now, Ms. Geist, 49, has a life that would be unrecognizable to colleagues and friends in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. She has returned to her family home near Detroit to care for her parents, one lost to dementia and the other to sorrow. . .

"Smart corporations are paying attention" to the challenges that caring for elderly parents presents, said Meryle Mahrer-Kaplan, vice president of advisory services at Catalyst, which has more than 300 corporate members interested in the issues of women in the workplace. "It's so pressing because you can't plan for it, you can't put it off, and it's not a good-news activity. It weighs people down."

Despite a growing number of men helping aging relatives, women account for 71 percent of those devoting 40 or more hours a week to the task, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP in a 2004 study. Among those with the greatest burden of care, regardless of sex, 88 percent either take leaves of absence, quit or retire." By Jane Gross, New York Times Link to Article (last visited 11-27-05 NVS)

November 28, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Caring for Aging Parents

A free AARP online seminar is available for those caring for aging parents:

"As your parents age and you step in to help them, you may find yourself wrestling with a variety of unfamiliar and difficult issues. You may have to find transportation for a parent who can no longer drive, locate public resources to help pay for a nursing home stay or try to demystify complicated legal issues.

Though these tasks can be difficult, with a little research and planning you can ensure that your parents are well cared for. This seminar aims to get you started by outlining some of the most common issues for caregivers and strategies for handling them." By AARP Link to Seminar (last visited 11-27-05 NVS)

November 28, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Case Law Development: It Takes Two to Make a Common Law Marriage

The Iowa Court of Appeals upheld a district court's decision in which the court dismissed a woman's divorce petition and granted her cohabitant of 14 years his petition for forcible entry and detainer to evict her. The woman provided evidence that he had raised her child from a previous relationship as his own and that the only reason he had not adopted the child was that they did not want to reveal to the child that the man was not in fact his biological father.  She also provided some evidence that the couple held themselves out as married and evidence that her friends thought they were married.  The trial court was more persuaded by the man's testimony that, having been burnt once by divorce, he did not intend to be married and by the evidence that the parties kept all their financial dealings strictly separate.  Failing in having established that both parties had a present intent to be married, she became mere tenant.

Toom v. Nagle, 2005 Iowa App. LEXIS 1388 (November 23, 2005)
Opinion on the web at (last visited November 27, 2005 bgf)

November 27, 2005 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Case Law Development: Desire for Career Change Not Basis for Reduction in Child Support

Father quit a job to begin training as an electrician in the hopes of someday owning his own business, which reduced his yearly income by 41 percent.  The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's order reducing his child support in order to accomodate his lengthy apprenticeship, holding that Father's actions were a voluntary reduction in income, which could not provide a basis for an adjustment in child support.

In re Biertzer, 2005 Iowa App. LEXIS 1398 (November 23, 2005)
Opinion on the web at
(last visited November 27, 2005 bgf)

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November 27, 2005 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tennessee Appeals Court Rules Against Biological Parents of 6-Year-Old Chinese Girl

A Tennessee state appeals court Wednesday refused to return a 6-year-old Chinese girl to her biological parents, who put her in the custody of an American couple shortly after her birth. The 2-1 ruling upheld a lower court decision that took away the parental rights of the Chinese couple on the basis that they had willfully abandoned the child and permits Jerry and Louise Baker to proceed with adopting the girl. She has been with the Baker’s since she was three years old. The five-year struggle by the child’s biological parents has drawn support from the Chinese Embassy in Washington and led Chinese community groups to complain of cultural bias in Tennessee courts. The biological parents, who were facing financial and legal troubles when their daughter was born, say they thought they were putting her in temporary foster care. According to their attorney, the case will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.  Source. Woody Baird, Associated Press, Please click here for additional information (last visited November 27, 2005, reo).

The case is In re A.M.H. v. Shao-Quiang He, 2005 Tenn. App. LEXIS 736 (November 23, 2005) and the opinion is on the web at (last visited December 1, 2005 bgf)

November 27, 2005 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chicago Man Abducts Children for Satanic Ritual

According to Chicagoauthorities, David Rodriquez allegedly kidnapped a 6-year-old girl and her 8-year-old brother Friday afternoon while they waited for their mother outside a library because he believed a satanic ritual would help him get his girlfriend back.  Rodriguez was arrested before carrying out his demonic plan, which authorities said involved carving a pentagram in the girl's chest. The arrest came after the 8-year-old boy was released with a fake note and observed by adults crying and standing alone. He was able to lead authorities to Rodriquez before he carried out his plan.  Source: Stefano Esposito, Chicago Sun Times, Please click here for additional information (last visited November 27, 2005, reo).

November 27, 2005 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Pennsylvania Law Gives Foster Parents Right to Participate in Permanent Placement Proceedings

A new Pennsylvania law requires that county and private children and youth social service agencies notify foster care or kinship care families of scheduled meetings regarding child placement.  It encourages the families’ active participation in the plan to place a child permanently in an adoptive home. The bill also requires such agencies to respond openly, completely and promptly when contacted by the foster family regarding the care of the child.  And, it requires that certain medical, behavioral and educational information be shared with the foster family. Source. Please click here for additional information (last visited November 27, 2005, reo).

November 27, 2005 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

One in Six UK Women Named Wrong Dad When Seeking Child Support

According to a story in the Sunday Mail, one in six women who go to the Child Support Agency in England named the wrong man as the father of their child. DNA paternity tests, which cost around £300 and are carried out by the CSA, have revealed that in 3034 cases the man named as dad turned out not to be the biological father. Figures secured through the Freedom of Information Act show that since tests began in 1998, 15,909 DNA tests have been made. The number of tests carried out for the CSA has fallen over the years but the proportion of false claims is consistent. Source: Please click here for additional information (last visited November 27, 2005, reo).

November 27, 2005 in Paternity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

South Bend, Indiana YMCA Collects Old and Used Cell Phones To Aid Abuse Victims

The South Bend, Indiana YMCA has launched a holiday drive to obtain old and used cell phones to provide to domestic abuse victims who were without them.  The phones are given to victims at the local shelter, and they can be used in an emergency to call 911.  Nancy Sinnott, Director of Public Relations for the South Bend YWCA, says, “If someone comes to the mall or goes to court, they have one of these cell phones with them and their abuser approaches them, they can dial 911 and get to safety.” The YWCA says it sees a dramatic rise in victims of domestic violence during the holidays. Source. Kimberly Torres, NewsCenter16 reporter, Please click here for additional information (last visited November 27, 2005, reo).

November 27, 2005 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Arguments on Honolulu’s Ban on Aerial Images of Aborted Fetuses

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments this week on whether Honolulu's ban on flying pictures of aborted fetuses over crowded beaches amounts to illegal censorship. The case was brought by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, a group opposed to abortion. The attorney for the group claimed that the explicit images cannot be replaced by other forms of advertisement. The group already drives trucks around Honolulu with giant photos of first-term aborted fetuses. U.S. District Chief Judge David Ezra had earlier upheld the ban.  The group argues the aerial ban not only violates its First Amendment rights of free speech but also prevents the group from reaching hundreds of thousands of beachgoers with their message. Jon Van Dyke, Honolulu’s special deputy counsel, said the group's name could be painted on a plane, but images are illegal because it constitutes advertising. He told the court that the proposed banners also would pollute Hawaii's natural beauty and make the island less appealing to tourists. Source: Alexandre Da Silva, Associated Press, For more information, please click here (last visited November 26, 2005, reo).

November 26, 2005 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Indiana Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Law Waiting-Period

The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a law that requires women seeking an abortion to get counseling about medical risks and alternatives, and to wait at least 18 hours after the session before going through with the procedure. The court ruled 4-1 that opponents of the law could not pursue their lawsuit, which argued that privacy is a core right under the state constitution that extends to women seeking to end their pregnancies. The court said such a challenge would fail because the law "does not impose a material burden on any right to privacy or abortion that may be provided or protected" under the state constitution. Source:  Chicago Tribune, For more information, please click here (last visited November 26, 2005, reo).

November 26, 2005 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Chief Justice Faces Abortion Issue in Parental Notification Case

The first major abortion case since Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the court last month comes before the justices next week. The case is Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood , No. 04-1144. and involves a New Hampshire law requiring teenagers to tell a parent before getting an abortion. While the law has an exception for girls who would die without the procedure, New Hampshire lawmakers omitted an exception for other non-life-threatening health problems because they felt it would render the law meaningless. The new law has never been enforced, because two federal courts have said the lack of a health exception made it unconstitutional. The Bush administration supports the New Hampshire law, telling the court in a friend-of-the-court brief that the case "may have direct relevance" to its defense of the federal law banning the late-term procedure that its opponents refer to as "partial-birth abortion" -- a law that has been struck down by lower federal courts in rulings that the administration has asked the Supreme Court to overturn. Source: Charles Lane, Washington Post Staff Writer, For more information, please click here (last visited November 26, 2005, reo).

November 26, 2005 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)