Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Payment for Broken Engagement?

"Mexican brides and grooms who get cold feet before walking down the aisle will have to pay their significant other for the inconvenience, if a proposal by a local congressman is adopted. . . .

Jose Antonio Zepeda, a city deputy for President Felipe Calderon's conservative National Action Party, wants to introduce the idea of compensation for backing out of a wedding as part of changes to the capital's civil code.

"He or she who refuses to live up to a marriage commitment will pay for the expenses that the other party made in connection with the planned matrimony," Zepeda's proposal says.

Zepeda also wants lawmakers to give legal status to prenuptial agreements for those on their way to the altar in hopes it will make divorce settlements easier if the couple splits later on."

By Reuters Link to Article (last visited 2-26-08 NVS)

February 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Open Adoption

". . . While there are no national statistics, open adoption is increasingly common, according to Harold Grotevant, a University of Minnesota professor who is one of the leading experts in the field. He’s been doing research with 35 adoption agencies for the last two decades and says there has been a clear-cut swing from confidential to open adoptions. Susan Caughman, editor of Adoptive Families magazine, started an Ask the Experts column last year on open adoption, which, she says, now gets more queries than any other column at the magazine.

When it was time for Ms. Dailer to give birth, the baby’s father as well as the adoptive parents were there in the delivery room. The adoptive parents selected a half-dozen names then let the birth parents make the final choice. Phelan Daniel Thatcher-Keane, 7 pounds, 9 ounces, was born Sept. 29, 2001. The adoptive parents were free to leave West Virginia within a few days, but stayed a week and a half. “We sat around and told stories and got to know each other,” Ms. Dailer said."

By Michael Winerip, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 2-26-08 NVS)

February 26, 2008 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Domestic Violence Offender Website?

"Web sites that promise to give the dirt on prospective dates abound. A guy has a roving eye? Look him up on DontDateHimGirl.com.

But a California lawmaker says the background checks can be far more serious. The lawmaker, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, the San Francisco Democrat who is the majority whip, introduced a bill last week to create an online database of men and women convicted of domestic violence in California.

Other states like Florida have databases used by law enforcement officials. Her proposal, Ms. Ma said, would be the first available to the public.

“If you’re online, Googling and looking for information on someone you met in a bar or on MySpace, this would provide a tool for people to go and look to see if someone who is suspicious and a little creepy has a history of violence,” Ms. Ma said.

The database would log the names of domestic violence offenders convicted of a felony or two misdemeanors, dates of birth, locations of convictions and other information. Unlike public registers of sex offenders, the database would not list addresses. It would, however, indicate how to obtain a restraining order."

By Rebecca Cathcart, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 2-18-08 NVS)

February 18, 2008 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Vietnamese Adoptions

"Eyes like black pearls, the softest skin and little tufts of hair made it totally easy to fall in love at first sight. And that is what Julie Carroll — and Jewel McRoberts and Tommi-Lynn Sawyer — did when they saw the three tiny girls at a Vietnamese orphanage. They adopted the babies after months of waiting and then had to leave them behind because they could not obtain entry visas to bring them back to the United States.

That was almost four months ago, and the families last week began a public campaign to press the State Department to let them bring Madelyn Grace, Eden and Anabelle to the United States. Enlisting the help of the senators from California, where two of the families live, the adoptive parents argue that they have been unfairly caught in diplomatic wrangling between the American and Vietnamese governments over concerns about corruption in the adoption process that led to the suspension of Vietnamese adoptions from 2003 to 2005."

By Elizabeth Olson, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visted 2-18-08 NVS)

February 18, 2008 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Story of Turkish Lawyer

FOR Fatma Benli, a Turkish lawyer and women’s rights advocate, the controversy over Islamic head scarves has the irritating sound of a broken record.

Ms. Benli, who is 34, wears one herself. (On Wednesday, it was light brown with a floral print, tucked into the neck of a white turtleneck.) But she would rather talk about other things.

“I could tell you about domestic violence, about honor killings, about the parts of the criminal code that discriminate against women,” she said, ticking off her areas of expertise in rapid-fire sentences. “But we can’t move on to those issues.

“The head scarf is where we are stuck.”

The story of how Turkey got there is also, in large part, the story of Ms. Benli, who has been a central, if reluctant, participant in the fight in Turkey over whether covered women should be allowed to go to college. The governing party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken their case to Parliament, trying to lift the ban at universities, a move that has enraged Turkey’s secular establishment.

By Sabrina Tavernise, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 2-18-08 NVS)

February 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Case Law Development: Alabama Supreme Court Clarifies Change of Custody Standard

The Alabama Supreme Court has reversed two of its previous decisions regarding the standard for change of child custody, emphasizing that the standard under Alabama law requires a party seeking a change in custody to show that the change "will materially promote [the] child's welfare."  Previous appellate courts had additionally required that the movant prove an "overwhelming necessity for a modification of custody."  The court noted that its original standard is "typically a heavy one, recognizing the importance of stability" but found the "overwhelming-necessity requirement places a nearly insurmountable  burden on the party seeking a modification of custody, and in doing so, elevates stability above the best interests of the child."

Ex parte Cleghorn, 2008 Ala. LEXIS 26, Alabama Supreme Court (February 8, 2008) bgf

February 11, 2008 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Case Law Development: Child's Opinion Should Be Considered in Custody Battle over Circumcision of Adolescent

The Oregon Supreme Court held that a custodial father’s decision to have his 12-year-old son circumcised so the child can convert to Judaism may provide a basis for a change in circumstances allowing a custody modification if the boy opposes the circumcision.  The child had been raised as Russian Orthodox, his mother’s religion.  His father began studying Judaism at about the time of the divorce, at which time he also was awarded custody of then 4-year-old boy.  When father informed mother that the child (then age 9) would be converting and would need to be circumcised, mother petitioned for a change in custody or for an order preventing the circumcision. 

The supreme court noted that “the decision to circumcise a male child is one that generally falls within a custodial parent's authority, unfettered by a noncustodial parent's concerns or beliefs--medical, religious or otherwise." However, the court concluded that "at age 12, [the child's] attitude regarding circumcision, though not conclusive of the custody issue presented here, is a fact necessary to the determination of whether mother has asserted a colorable claim of change of circumstances sufficient to warrant a hearing concerning whether to change custody….because forcing [the child] at age 12 to undergo the circumcision against his will could seriously affect the relationship between [him] and father, and could have a pronounced effect on father's capability to properly care for [him]."   Thus, the court remanded to the trial court for factual findings regarding the child’s attitude toward the circumcision and how that might affect the parent-child relationship.

Amici briefs were filed on behalf of mother by Doctors Opposing Circumcision and on behalf of father by national Jewish organizations, including the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

In re Boldt, Oregon Supreme Court, January 25, 2008
Opinion online (last visited February 9, 2008 bgf)
Hear the NPR Report on the case

February 11, 2008 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Case Law Development: Termination of Parental Rights Does not End Child Support Obligation

In an unpublished opinion, the Illinois Supreme Court has held that the termination of parental rights does not extinguish a child support obligation unless the child is being adopted.  The court relied on the language of the Illinois statute, which refers to termination of parental obligations as to “a child sought to be adopted.”   The court stated: "We conclude that, after the entry of an order terminating parental rights, where the child is not adopted, [the Act] applies as its plain language indicates, only where the child is 'sought to be adopted'…. To hold that this language is of no effect, as respondent urges, would render the language superfluous or meaningless."  The court rejected the appeals court’s  interpretation of the “sought to be adopted” language as including any child 'available for adoption', noting that the legislature could have specifically used this language.

Three judges dissented, arguing that the court’s interpretation created significant inconsistencies in the law, both between the termination statute and the juvenile code and between this holding and prior precedent.

Illinois DHFS v. Warner, Ill., Illinois Supreme Court, January 25, 2008
Opinion on the web (last visited February 9, 2008 bgf)

February 11, 2008 in Child Support Enforcement, Termination of Parental Rights | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)