Family Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bidding War for Women's Eggs Heats Up

News reports from Arizona indicate that a bidding war for women’s eggs has broken out in that state.  According to the reports, women can make thousands of dollars for giving up the microscopic cells to enable other women to get pregnant. It says that “proximity to California, described as a `madhouse’ of egg demand, only makes the market hotter.”  Arizona women are routinely being offered as much as $7,500 to $10,000 as egg donors and some may be paid as much as $24,000.  Source.  Jodie Snyder, Arizona Republic, For the compete story, please click here (last visited May 31, 2006, reo).

May 31, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Costa Rica’s Supreme Court Rules Concept of Gay Marriage Unconstitutional

The Supreme Court of Costa Rica in a 5-2 vote has ruled the concept of "gay marriage" unconstitutional. It is reported that the Chief Justice of the court said that the problem could be solved by legislation allowing homosexuals to form "civil unions." Source.  Hilary White, For the compete story, please click here (last visited May 31, 2006, reo).

May 31, 2006 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New York’s Highest Court to Review Gay Marriage Dispute Wednesday

New York's Court of Appeals, its highest court, will hear arguments Wednesday on behalf of 45 same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in that state. The decision by the Court of Appeals is the final step in the state appeal process on the question of whether gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry.  An intermediate court of appeals had earlier upheld New York's marriage laws as constitutional.  A decision from the Court of Appeals is expected in a few weeks. Source.  Mark Johnson, AP, For the compete story, please click here (last visited May 31, 2006, reo).

May 31, 2006 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Irish Supreme Court Strikes Down Statutory Rape Law – Emergency Legislation Proposed

Ireland's Supreme Court struck down the nation's statutory rape law as unconstitutional last week. The 1935 law made sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 15 rape, regardless of the circumstances. The Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because “it did not leave room for a genuine mistake, even if it were proven that a girl had lied about her age.” The court released a 41-year-old man who had sex with a 12-year-old girl who he had plied her with alcohol before he had sex with her when she woke up to be sick. The Government reportedly intends to enact emergency legislation to cure the defect in the law following the High Court's decision.  Source.  The Irish Times, For the compete story, please click here (last visited May 31, 2006, reo).

May 31, 2006 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Did Prince Albert II of Monaco Father 14-year-old girl Living in California?

According to French sources, Prince Albert II of Monaco is about to recognize a now 14-year-old girl who lives in California as a child he fathered out of wedlock. The child’s mother claims the child was conceived during a brief affair with the prince while she vacationed in Monaco in 1991.  Source.  Keith Matherny, The Desert Sun, For the compete story, please click here (last visited May 31, 2006, reo).

May 31, 2006 in Paternity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Michigan to Consider Joint Physical Custody When Couples Cannot Agree

The Michigan House Committee on Family and Children Services is set to consider a family law bill that will amend the Child Custody Act of 1970 that will instruct courts to order joint physical custody, unless there is clear and convincing evidence that one of the partes is unfit, unwilling, or unable to care for his or her child.  The measure is opposed by the Michigan State Bar's Family Law Section, the Michigan National Organization for Women, Domestic Violence Escape Inc., and other groups. Source. Lansin State Journal, For the compete story, please click here (last visited May 31, 2006, reo).

May 31, 2006 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Case Law Development: State Must Prove Termination of Parental Rights Even if Parent Defaults

The Kentucky Court of Appeals took the rare action of reversing a trial court's termination of a mother's parental rights in a case in which she did not appear to contest the termination and the hearing on the matter lasted 15 minutes.  The state alleged medical neglect because one of the three children, who was born with severe medical problems, had been catheterized by another child.  The state alleged educational neglect as to a second child because he was reading far below his grade level.  As to all three children, the state maintained that mother did not maintain an appropriate home.  No evidence was submitted in the 15 minute hearing to support these allegations or the harm to the children. 

In reversing, the court commented: "We are mindful of the enormous time pressures faced by both the family court and the attorneys involved in this case. But the state’s effort to sever permanently the relationship between parent and child is a serious affair, as evidenced by the heightened burden of proof required for termination. Based on the record before us, we believe that in its haste, the Cabinet failed to show the family court clear and convincing evidence that [mother's] parental rights should be terminated. After all, “[i]t is very well to say that those who deal with the Government should turn square corners. But there is no reason why the square corners should constitute a one-way street.”

V.S. v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, Kentucky Court of Appeals May 5, 2006
Opinion on the web (last visited May 30, 2006)

Read a news story on the decision by Valarie Honeycutt Spears of the Lexington Herald-Leader (last visited May 30, 2006)

May 30, 2006 in Termination of Parental Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mother Fights Order to Terminate Life Support of Infant

A Texas mother is fighting to prevent a hospital from terminating life support for her 10-month-old infant.  Baby Daniel is nearly brain-dead. He cannot breathe without a ventilator. He cannot eat without a feeding tube. The hospital's ethics board has ruled that it would be futile and inappropriate to keep Daniel alive – despite his mother's wishes to try.  A judge has entered a temporary restraining order regarding the termination of life support.  The case is further complicated by the fact that the child had been removed from mother's custody for neglect. 

Read the story by Michael Grabell in The Dallas Morning News (last visited May 30, 2006 bgf)

Continue reading

May 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Doctor Kills Sons in Murder-Suicide

"Detectives were searching the home of a respected cancer doctor last night for clues as to why he killed his two young sons by throwing them off a 15th-floor hotel balcony before leaping to his own death. The bodies of eight-year-old Spencer Van Dyk and his brother Carl, four, landed with such force on the lobby roof at the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach after the 125ft plunge that a chandelier was shattered. Police say they are treating the deaths of the boys and their father, Dr Edward Van Dyk, 43, on Saturday morning as a murder-suicide and have asked colleagues in Illinois to search the family's home in Gordon for a suicide note.

"This is an individual who had issues with his wife and selfishly took his children's lives," said Sgt Bobby Hernandez of the Miami Beach Police Department. "What would possess someone to take his two children, dressed in their pyjamas, and throw them over the balcony? It's a terrible tragedy." " By Richard Luscombe, The Scotsman Link to Article (last visited 5-28-06 NVS)

May 29, 2006 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Fears for Life of Child Molester

"Nebraska will appeal a judge's decision not to send a convicted child molester to prison because his slight stature might subject him to abuse behind bars, the state attorney general said on Friday. Cheyenne County District Judge Kristine Cecava sentenced Richard Thompson, who is the 5 feet, 1 inch tall, to 10 years' probation this week for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. Thompson's crime merited several years in prison, Cecava said, but she did not send him there because she said she feared he might not survive incarceration." Reuters, Yahoo News Link to Article (last visited 5-28-06 NVS)

May 29, 2006 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Two Million Children with HIV

"More than 2 million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV, almost all in sub-Saharan Africa where there is no access to treatment and death almost certain, seven leading child advocacy organizations said. "We are failing children," said Dean Hirsch, chairman of the Global Movement for Children, which issued an urgent appeal to governments, donors and the pharmaceutical industry to recognize a child's right to treatment as fundamental. The movement, made up of seven organizations, released a report Friday that painted a grim picture of the impact of the disease on children: 700,000 children were infected with the HIV virus in 2005, bringing the total to 2.3 million, and 570,000 died of  AIDS — one every minute.

Less than 5 percent of HIV-positive children have access to the pediatric AIDS treatment they desperately need, the report said. "The deaths of these children are not inevitable," said Hirsch, president of World Vision International, a Christian relief organization. "An HIV positive child can respond to anti-retroviral treatment. So let's deliver on the promise — the promise of treatment for all by 2010."" By Edith M. Lederer, AP, Yahoo News, Link to Article (last visited 5-28-06 NVS)

May 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Angelina Jolie Gives Birth

"The most anticipated newborn of the season made her debut last night when globetrotting superstar Angelina Jolie gave birth to a sure-to-be-gorgeous baby girl. Jolie's third tyke - and first child with actor Brad Pitt - was named Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. She was born in the southwest African nation of Namibia."The night of May 27, 2006, in Namibia, Africa, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt welcomed their daughter Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. No further information is being given," publicist Cindy Guagenti said in a statement." By Michelle Caruso and Oren Yaniv, Daily News Link to Article

May 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kids Mourn Parents Killed in Iraq

"Jacob Hobbs, 10, did not mince words about the death of his father. "He was in a Humvee, driving at night on patrol, and a homemade bomb blew up on him so bad it killed his brain," Jacob said of his father, Staff Sgt. Brian Hobbs, 31, of the Army. "But he wasn't scratched up that much. And that's how he died." Sitting across from Jacob in a circle at a grief camp over Memorial Day weekend, Taylor Downing, a 10-year-old with wavy red hair and a mouthful of braces, offered up her own detailed description. "My dad died four days after my birthday, on Oct. 28, 2004," Taylor said quietly of Specialist Stephen Paul Downing II. "He got shot by a sniper. It came in through here," she added, pointing to the front of her head, "and went out there," shifting her finger to the back of her head." By Lizette Alvarez, New York Times Link to Article (last visited 5-29-06 NVS)

May 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Illinois Legislation Designed to Protected Children and Disabled Persons from Abuse

The Sargent Shriver National Center for Poverty Law reports that Illinois has passed several laws designed to protect children and persons with disabilities.  Two of the bills limit parenting rights and opportunities for adoption or for custody and visitation for persons who have been convicted of crimes against children; a third adds a separate crime of sexual misconduct toward persons with disabilities.  A fourth bill, which the General Assembly also passed, provides for debt relief for the portion of child support arrearages that low-income parents owe the state, not the family.

Read the Illinois Legislation  (last visited May 27, 2006 bgf)

May 28, 2006 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Case Law Development: Change in Custody - Impact of Child's Preference, Mental Health Professional Recommendations & Parental Animosity

The Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a change in primary custody of a teenaged girl in a case that would make an excellent vehicle for class discussions regarding the relevant weight to be given to various custody factors.

On Dad's side:

  • 16-year-old daughter strongly expresses desire to live with dad
  • Mom's husband kicked daughter out of the house, continually criticizes Father to daughter and, in general,  Mom and Stepdad "have made it very difficult for [Daughter] to maintain a guilt-free relationship with her father.
  • Mom has been cited for contempt in the past for interfering with Father's visitation
  • Dad doesn't work due to disability (the legitimacy of which has been twice litigated by Mom and decided in his favor in both actions) and will be available to daughter
  • Dad seems the more "friendly parent"
  • Appellate court should give deference to trial court's judgment which concluded that while Father "was no Ward Cleaver" he was "unwilling to evaporate from his children's life and that [Mother and Stepfather] are without legal justification to deny [Father] his rights as the children's parent. "

On Mom's side:

  • Daughter's family counselor and her guardian ad litem both recommend that custody remain with Mom, with continued counseling and no contact between step-father and father
  • Mom has been primary care provider for over thirteen years and, with step-dad, has provided nearly all financial support for Daughter
  • Dad admits to using Marijuanna and has a more permissive parenting style than the authoritative style of Mom and step dad
  • Mom and step-dad have other younger children and transfer of custody will separate daughter from these step-siblings
  • The dissent concludes "In a difficult and emotionally charged custody case such as this, we are better informed by the critical judgment of the professionals than we are by the preferences of a troubled adolescent or the highly partisan and self-serving testimony of the parents."

In re Rohlfsen, 2006 Iowa App. LEXIS 472 (May 24, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited May26, 2006 bgf)

May 28, 2006 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Case Law Development: Sixth Circuit Applies Restatement in Resolving Conflict Between Wives Over Pension Benefits

When Douglas Durden died in Michigan, two women came forward and each claimed she was his “surviving spouse” and entitled to surviving spouse benefits under his employer’s pension program. Douglas had marred Ann in Ohio in 1966 and she insisted that they had never been divorced and Ohio law required Douglas’s employer to pay her the benefits.  The second wife, Rita, said Douglas divorced Ann in 1971 and married her in 1985 in Las Vegas, Nevada. She insisted that Michigan law applied because Douglas worked in Michigan and the survivor’s benefits were to be paid by a Michigan employer.(There was no documentary proof that he had ever divorced Ann, his first wife.)  Rita was paid $58,500 on a life insurance policy in which she was listed as the beneficiary.  However, DaimlerChrysler refused to pay the survivors benefits absent a decision by a court making it clear which of the two women should receive them.

In ruling in Ann’s favor, the court applied and interpreted section 187(2)(b) of the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws. This provision, said the court, provides that the “[t]he validity of a marriage will be determined by the local law of the state which, with respect to the particular issue, has the most significant relationship to the spouses and the marriage.” In the court’s view, Ohio had the most significant relationship because Ann and Douglas’s marriage was solemnized there and both lived there as husband and wife. Furthermore, Rita and Douglas lived in Oho from 1985 to 2003 after their Nevada marriage.  The court said that although Douglas worked in Michigan, that state does not have a significant relationship to either of the wives or their marriages.

The court also said that Ohio law evidences a policy of protecting individuals like Ann from bearing the burden of proof. Application of Michigan law, which would place the burden on Ann to demonstrate she was not divorced from Douglas, would be contrary to this policy.  Ohio’s presumption in favor of the continuation of the first marriage demonstrates a fundamental policy pf that state and application of Michigan law pursuant to the choice of law provision would be contrary to that fundamental policy. Finally, the court said that Ohio has a material greater interest than Michigan in determining whether Ann or Rita is Douglas's surviving spouse.  The reason for this is that none of the Michigan entities involved in the litigation  has an interest in which claimant prevails. Ohio has a fundamental policy of protecting married persons from the consequences of their spouse entering into a subsequent marriage where it is not clear whether the prior marriage was dissolved. Enforcing the choice of law provision and applying Michigan law would be contrary to this fundamental policy. The court concluded that Ohio a materially greater interest than Michigan in the determination of which woman is entitled to receive the survivor’s benefits. “Consequently, this is one of the rare cases which fits within the exception described in section 187(2)(b).” The Sixth Circuit opinion can be found by clicking here (last visited May 27, 2006, reo).

May 28, 2006 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Connecticut’s Motor Vehicle Department Says it Will Stop Issuing “Choose Life” License Plates

On Thursday the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles said it will stop issuing special “Choose Life” license plates for The Children First Foundation -- a New York-based pro-adoption group opposed to abortion - while it investigates, along with the attorney general, whether the foundation qualifies for the plates.-The decision is expected to spark a first amendment lawsuit over the issue.  Source.  Jon Lender, Hartford Courant, For the complete story, please click here (last visited May 27, 2006, reo).

May 27, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Legislative Development: Oklahoma Governor Signs Bill that Restricts Teenagers’ Access to Abortions

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry signed a bill this week that restricts teenagers’access to abortions in that state.  The bill requires the consent of one parent before a minor can receive an abortion and allows public funds to be sent to agencies that help pregnant women with anti-abortion counseling and support services.  Source.  KOTV-TV, For the complete story, please click here (last visited May 27, 2006, reo).

May 27, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Legislative Development: Kansas Legislators Fail to Override Veto of Abortion Reporting Measure

Kansas legislators failed by four votes in the state senate in their effort to override Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius’s veto of an abortion bill that that would have required the state to collect more information about late term abortions, such as the woman’s health, fetal abnormalities, and the physician who authorized the abortion.  Source.  David Klepper And Jim Sullinger, The Wichita Eagle, For the complete story, please click here (last visited May 27, 2006, reo).

May 27, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Georgia Supreme Court Asked to Expedite Hearing on Reinstating Georgia’s Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage

The Georgia Attorney General has asked the state supreme court to expedite a hearing on reinstating Georgia's constitutional ban on gay marriage, which was struck down earlier this month.  The Governor, Sonny Perdue, has said that he will convene a special session of the General Assembly August 9 if the state supreme court refuses to reverse the lower court ruling.  Source.  Nancy Badertscher, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, For the complete story, please click here (last visited May 27, 2006, reo).

May 27, 2006 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)