Sunday, January 31, 2010

10 Weird Divorce Settlements

CNN recently covered 10 bizarre divorce settlements; they are worth a look.  Included is Marvin Gaye’s story:

Marvin Gaye was a tremendous singer, but he wasn't always so great at keeping track of his personal finances. He spent lavishly, which meant that he often couldn't cover his bills.

He was having particularly big trouble footing the bill for his 1977 divorce from Anna Gordy, so Gaye's lawyer worked out a novel settlement: Gaye would record a new album and give all of the royalties to Gordy as alimony.

Gaye headed into the studio and recorded the double album "Here, My Dear" to fulfill this deal with Gordy. Unfortunately for Gordy, critics and audiences didn't love Gaye's divorce-themed concept album; although today's critics praise the album, it was the singer's worst charting record of the 1970s.

Read the rest here.


January 31, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How Much is Your Marriage Certificate Worth?

An online bidder paid $70,800 for the original 1994 marriage certificate issued to Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley.

Read more here.


January 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tiefenbrun & Edwards: "Gendercide and the Cultural Context of Sex Trafficking in China"

Susan Tiefenbrun (Thomas Jefferson School of Law) & Christie J. Edwards (Thomas Jefferson School of Law) have posted Gendercide and the Cultural Context of Sex Trafficking in China, 32 Fordham International Law Journal 731 (2009), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This article discusses a demographic crisis in China that arguably rises to the level of "gendercide." Women in China are bought and sold, murdered and made to disappear, in order to comply with a governmental policy that coincides with the cultural phenomenon of male-child preference. Demographers estimate that there are between 50 and 100 million missing women in China.  In answer to the resulting scarcity of women, gangs, "specialist households," and "specialist villages" have been working in an organized chain to kidnap and sell women in China.

Several factors work interdependently to cause a serious shortage of women in China. Women are disappearing because of the social pressures of male-child preference, the zealous enforcement of China's "One-Child Policy" by local government authorities, and the murderous responses to this policy undertaken by millions of ordinary people in China who are desperate to have a son. The 2000 Chinese census reported that 117 boys were born for every 100 girls, compared to the global average of 105 or 106 boys to every 100 girls. This disparity may be linked to the practice of aborting female fetuses and killing female babies.

This gender imbalance has caused an increase in prostitution and human trafficking in China. Sex trafficking in China takes many forms: the purchase of women for brides, the purchase of a male son, or the sale of unwanted female children. Many men, primarily in rural China, desperately seek brides in a country where women are in short supply. These men will resort to purchasing a trafficked woman for marriage. Couples seeking a male child will sell or even murder their girl child in order to make room for the purchase of a trafficked baby boy. Young women and infants are bought and sold like cargo. Human trafficking in China is a lucrative international business that is expanding due to several factors: the aggressive implementation of the One-Child Policy, a faulty legal system, and the blind adherence to longstanding cultural traditions that devalue women. In China, Communist Party directives overshadow the legislative and judicial process. The primacy of government policy results in the ineffectiveness of laws that theoretically protect women and female children in China.


January 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Registration for the 4th Conference of the Commission on European Family Law

From Jo Miles and our friends across the pond:

The 4th Conference of the Commission on European Family Law, The Future of Family Property in Europe, takes place at the University of Cambridge, April 8-10.

The programme for the early career researcher workshops and plenary sessions is available on the conference website: We look forward to a stimulating discussion across the 3 days of the conference!

The early booking period closes at the end of January, after which the basic conference fee rises to £225 – we encourage you to book as soon as possible! A student rate (£75) is available for undergraduate and masters’ level students (but not doctoral candidates). Booking for the conference and accommodation can be done via the website address above. Please email any queries to the conference organisers on [email protected]


January 29, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

California Court Rules that Judgment of Ukrainian Adoption Cannot be Vacated in the United States

A California Court of Appeals has ruled that a family adopting a Ukrainian child who turned out to have severe physical and mental disabilities may not vacate the Ukrainian adoption using a California statute which allows adoptive parents to set aside adoptions of children with certain disabilities.  The court held that the statute applies only to California adoption orders, and thus may not be used by a family with a judgment of adoption from a foreign court.

The facts raise a number of interesting issues (most not discussed in the case) about the recourse of adoptive parents and the fate of children adopted abroad when the adoptive parents are no longer willing to maintain the relationship.  In this case, the adoptive parents placed the child in foster care several years before seeking to vacate the judgment of adoption.  Should such children be returned to their home countries?  Should their adoptive parents bear the burden of their support, particularly when the adoptive parents have a means of escaping the support obligation for similar adoptions perfected in the United States?

Read the opinion here.


January 29, 2010 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Elizabeth Gilbert on Marriage

For fans of Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love), here’s a CNN interview with the writer on her new book Committed, which covers her view of marriage following a bitter divorce and (happy?) remarriage.  We’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the future, with a movie version of Eat, Pray, Love coming out late this summer, starring Julia Roberts.

Here’s an interesting excerpt from the CNN interview, which can be accessed in its entirety here:

CNN: Marriage has often been portrayed as something that protects women. But you found in your book that it benefits men the most. Were you surprised by that?

Gilbert: It's surprising, though it shouldn't be. Looking at study after study, it becomes quite chilling to see how very much benefited men are by marriage. Married men perform in life exceptionally better than single men, they live longer, they're richer, they're happier.

CNN: And yet men are often reluctant to enter into marriage.

Gilbert: Which is the big irony. They have to be dragged kicking and screaming into something that will benefit them enormously in life. And the cruel irony is that the people who drag them kicking and screaming into it -- the women -- are the ones who often find that they've gotten the short end of the stick.

Women give more and as a result they give up more.

I think the other problem is that women go into marriage with such high expectations, really inflated romantic ideas about what this relationship is going to be. Men go into marriage with virtually no expectations whatsoever. Ten years later, the men are delightfully surprised to find out that it's actually kind of nice, and the women have sort of had to take a nose dive from what they thought it was going to be.


January 29, 2010 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

$17 Million Contingency Fee Marital Property Subject to Equitable Division

The Tennesee Supreme Court has ruled that a $17 million class action settlement fee received by a husband-attorney after his wife filed for divorce is marital property subject to equitable division.  The decision is consistent with the wealth of jurisprudence on marital and community property - acquisitions that are the result of effort, skill, or industry expended during marriage should be susceptible of being shared.  But to reach this decision, the Court had to creatively interpret a Tennessee statute which requires that property be "owned by either or both spouses as of the date of filing of a complaint for divorce" to qualify as marital property.

Read the opinion here or news coverage of it here.


January 28, 2010 in Property Division | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Shmueli: "What have Calabresi and Melamed got to do with Family Affairs? Women Using Tort Law in Order to Defeat Jewish and Shari’A Law"

Benjamin Shmueli has posted What have Calabresi and Melamed got to do with Family Affairs? Women Using Tort Law in Order to Defeat Jewish and Shari’A Law, Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice (forthcoming 2009), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Intrafamilial tort actions have become increasingly common. Children sue parents, and spouses sue each other or their ex-spouses. These actions create a fascinating intersection between tort law, which generally deals with relationships between strangers, and family law, which generally concerns the regulation of relationships between intimates. This is especially interesting when these situations create a clash between secular tort law and religious Jewish and Shari’a law. This Article charts new territory by exploring the legal, social, and law and economics implications of these emerging legal actions at the intersection of tort law and family relations.

I use the now-famous Calabresi and Melamed framework (Guido Calabresi & A. Douglas Melamed, Property Rules, Liability Rules, and Inalienability: One View of the Cathedral, 85 HARV. L. REV. 1089 (1972)) of primary and secondary remedies drawn from different entitlement regimes in order to provide a theoretical foundation to explore the emerging use of tort law to provide remedies for family disputes. I focus in particular on categories of disputes in which family law either refuses or is unable to provide adequate remedies for harms caused by one family member against another. The Calabresi and Melamed framework will help illustrate five circles of civil-tort actions in the service of the family unit, in some of them there is a real clash between secular tort law and religious Jewish or Shari’a law. But beyond just presenting the issues, this framework will have great importance in providing a theoretical-tort basis for understanding new and future developments in case in which there are real conflicts between tort law and family law.

Ultimately, this Article asks, among other questions: Can women indeed defeat religious Jewish and Shari’a law, using secular tort law? What are the characteristics of the relationships between intrafamilial tort litigation and religious Jewish and Shari’a law? Are rights connected to personal status tradable, i.e. can they be transferred or sold? Can the family court fill an active and legitimate role in creating deals on behalf of the state, under which a family member is recognized as having injured the rights of another family member on the plane of personal status? Should the state allow for the damaged personal status right to be priced, e.g., by setting a price tag on the infringement by using tort law?

Benjamin Shmueli has also recently posted many other articles, as well, available here once you enter author's name into the search field.


January 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Marriage Makes Men Richer

Interesting Time magazine article discuss a study using Census data to conclude that college-educated men sustain the greatest economic benefit from marriage.

How's this for unintended consequences? Some of the biggest beneficiaries of the women's movement have been married men. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, married men have a 60% higher median household income than they did in 1970, even adjusted for inflation. Unmarried men, on the other hand, only got a 16% bump.

The reason for the rise is that more men are marrying women who make more money than they do, mainly because there are more high-income women to go around. In 1970, just 4% of men ages 30 to 44 had wives who brought in more bacon than they did. By 2007, more than a fifth (22%) of men in that age bracket have wives who out-earn them. Members of this thriving demographic are effectively doubling their income or more when they wed, without doubling their costs.

The study, which drew on household income data from the Decennial Census and the 2007 American Community Survey, conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau, showed that the biggest gainers were married, college-educated men. The biggest losers were unmarried men who did not complete high school or who only had a high school diploma. After adjusting for inflation, the 2007 cohort had lower household incomes than their 1970 counterparts. "The steeper decline in marriage among the less educated has contributed to a steeper decline in their income," says one of the study's authors, D'Vera Cohn.

Read the full article here.


January 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

New Studies on Weight Gain, IQ

The results of two new studies (loosely) pertaining to families have been announced:

1.  A new study suggests that women who live with a mate put on a few more pounds than otherwise.  According to the New York Times, “After adjusting for other variables, the 10-year weight gain for an average 140-pound woman was 20 pounds if she had a baby and a partner, 15 if she had a partner but no baby, and only 11 pounds if she was childless with no partner.”  Read about it here.

2.  The link between crime and abortion has been suggested by John Donohue and Steven Levitt, and now there’s mounting evidence of a link between abstinence and IQ—students with IQs above 100 and below 70 were significantly more likely to have abstained than those in between 70 and 100.  In other words, those abstaining are either below or above average smart (as measured by IQ)--maybe parents don't have to do the birds and the bees talk for this group?  Not according to this article, which argues "the talk" needs to be reiterated to reduce the recent rise of teen pregnancy rates.  Read about more about the IQ study here.


January 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Call for Papers on the Protection of Children and Families During Armed Conflict

     The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and the Minerva Center for
     Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are
     organizing an international, interdisciplinary conference
     on the Protection of Children and Families during Armed
     Conflict. This event will examine legal, social and
     political mechanisms that protect children and families in
     the course of international and domestic armed conflicts.
     The conference will take place in Jerusalem from the 6th to
     the 8th of June 2010.
     Recipients of this call for papers are invited to submit
     proposals to present a paper at the symposium. Authors of
     the selected proposals will be offered flight expenses to
     Israel and accommodations for the duration of the
     Invited speakers who have already confirmed their
     participation include Prof. Jaap Doek (Vrije Universiteit,
     Amsterdam; former Chairperson, UN Committee on the Rights
     of the Child), Prof. Carolyn Hamilton (University of Essex;
     Director, Children's Legal Centre) and Prof. Michael
     Wessells (Professor of Clinical Population and Family
     Health, Columbia University; Professor of Psychology,
     Randolph-Macon College; Senior Advisor on Child Protection,
     Christian Children's Fund).
     The need for a conference is made salient by the events of
     the second Lebanon War in 2006 and by the Palestinian-
     Israeli conflict involving Gaza in 2008-2009, in both of
     which children were injured and killed and families
     suffered. This need continues in the current stage in the
     conflicts of the Middle East, which continue to endanger
     families and children.
     The importance of studying the impact of political conflict
     on children and families, and of preventing that impact
     arises from a number of empirically-based factors. First,
     armed conflicts are unfortunately a part of life in many
     parts of the world and are not likely to disappear soon.
     Second, children are among the most vulnerable people in
     any conflict, since they are not fully developed
     individuals. Third, families play a central role in the
     socialization of children so that damage to the structure
     and function of a family will add considerably to the
     suffering of the children. Fourth, developmental research
     shows that the risks and traumas experienced in childhood
     may be long-lasting and lead to poor developmental
     outcomes. Finally, there is evidence that exposure to armed
     conflict may lead to a perpetuation of the trauma and
     conflict across generation.
     Children are affected by political violence, not only in
     their experiencing of it but in the potential for this
     experience to affect the rest of their lives. While
     international legal safeguards for children exist, and
     there has been extensive research on the effects of
     exposure to political violence, the topic of protection of
     children in conflict has not received adequate research
     attention, and actual protection efforts have been weak and
     inconsistent. There is too little thinking about protecting
     children and families in one's own society, and even less
     on protecting those on the "other side".
     The proposed conference will engage researchers, policy
     makers and child advocates from the fields of international
     law, the social sciences and medicine. The goals of the
     conference are:
     1.  Presentation and exchange of ideas on the prevention of
         adverse effects on children and families as a result of
         armed conflict.
     2.  Dialogue between researchers and professionals who deal
         with children's rights directly. As part of the
         conference we strive to bring Israeli and Palestinian
         researchers security personnel, and representatives of
         non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to discuss
         approaches to prevent harm to children and families on
         both sides of a conflict.
     3.  Formulation of concrete proposals to all warring states
         and parties which may significantly reduce the impact
         of armed conflict on children and their families.
     4.  Publication of relevant papers in a volume designed to
         influence future research and practice in child
         protection and intervention during armed conflict.
     We are inviting figures from the international community as
     well as Israelis and Palestinians to present their research
     and engage in a dialogue concerning the protection of
     children in armed conflict. Speakers will present papers
     relating to the following issues: effects of political
     violence on children and families; rehabilitation of
     children and families; the role of the communications media
     in encouraging or discouraging protection for children and
     families; and the ethical, legal, political and
     organizational aspects of affording protection to children
     and families in armed conflict.
     The participants in the conference will discuss the
     background for the observance and the violation by
     different sides in an armed conflict of the international
     conventions on human rights and children's rights, as well
     as effective ways to encourage compliance with these
     Researchers interested in addressing these questions, or
     other questions related to the topic of the conference, are
     invited to respond to this call for papers with a one-page
     proposal for an article and presentation, along with a
     brief curriculum vitae (CV). Proposals should be submitted
     no later than 15 February 2010 by e-mail to:
     CONTACT:      The Minerva Center for Human Rights
                   Hebrew University of Jerusalem
     Email:        [email protected]
     All applicants should receive notification of the academic
     committee's decision by 10 March 2010. Short written
     contributions (of approximately 8-10 pages) based on the
     selected proposals will be expected by 25 May 2010. Full-
     length papers based on presentations made at the conference
     will be considered by the organizers for inclusion in a
     book or law journal symposium to be published following the

     Prof. Charles Greenbaum
     Hebrew University of Jerusalem

January 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Arrested for Not Registering Home-Schooled Kids


FONDA -- A Montgomery County couple has been arrested on child endangerment charges for failing to register their children with the school district as they were home-schooled, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said Monday.

The Cressys were issued appearance tickets to appear in the Town of Glen Court at a later date. The case has been turned over to the Montgomery County District Attorney and the Child Protective Unit.

Hoffman said the Cressys have since submitted a home-schooling curriculum, which he has approved. 

An arrest seems a little harsh, especially on child endangerment charges.  Some might suggest that the most problematic and unsafe school districts in the country should face child endangerment charges themselves.

For more on the Montgomery County case, read here.


January 26, 2010 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Proposition 8 Trial Updates

The blogosphere is buzzing with updates from the the Proposition 8 trial in California.  For excellent coverage, check out:

Constitutional Law Prof Blog, which has an updated post on the case here.

Box Turtle Bulletin, which is doing a day-by-day tracking of the case here.


January 25, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Divorce Gift Registry?!?

A well-known British retailer has launched a divorce gift registry.  Stock up now for your separating friends and family!

"With so many couples now living together before they marry, the wedding gift list concept is now regarded as more of an upgrade service, rather than stocking up the first home with the basics," said Peter Moore, head of retail services at Debenhams.

"However, a divorce means that one partner will be leaving their marital home and therefore be left without any essentials in their new house."

Items the store expects to be popular choices among divorcees include cookware, cutlery, crockery, glasses, bedlinen, towels and small electrical goods such as toasters and microwaves, as well as non-iron shirts, large plasma screen TVs and computer games.

Read more here.


January 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Human Trafficking Increases with Olympics

One story from London suggests a link between the Olympics and human trafficking, a link that will hopefully be eliminated once and for all starting with the 2010 Winter Olympics, which begin in Vancouver next month.  In the meantime, we have to keep reading stories like this, about the sale of a Lithuanian woman for £3,000 on Oxford Street, one of the busiest streets in London.


January 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Kahn: "Alimony Treatment for a Single Payment"

Douglas A. Kahn (University of Michigan Law School) recently posted Alimony Treatment for a Single Payment, 125 Tax Notes__ (2009), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:  

The author concludes that, contrary to the IRS and the Tax Court’s position, a single lump sum payment to a divorced spouse can qualify for alimony treatment in some circumstances subject to the front-loading rules. The author also contends that to conform to the requirement of the alimony provision, a payment of a divorced spouse’s legal or medical expenses under a divorce or separation instrument should qualify for alimony treatment even though those payments usually will not satisfy the literal terms of the statute.


January 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Joslin: "The Evolution of the American Family"

Courtney Joslin (UC Davis School of Law) has posted "The Evolution of the American Family" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract.

This short piece examines the changing meaning of marriage and the family in the U.S. Among other developments, the piece chronicles: the changing role and legal status of women in marriage; race restrictions in marriage; the legal recognition of same-sex relationships; and the increasing numbers of nonmarital families. The article is the lead piece in the Summer 2009 issue of the ABA Human Rights magazine devoted to the New American Family.


January 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Psychological Violence Law in France

France is set to introduce a new offense: psychological violence between married couples or partners living together.  This is an unusual venture into regulating matters within a family.  There is some concern, however, that the law will be abused and turn into a he said/she said debacle.  Nonetheless, the numbers are sobering: almost 3 women die weekly in France after being assaulted by a partner or ex-partner.  Read more here.  For editorials on the subject, see here and here.


January 23, 2010 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Easteal: "Marital Rape: Conflicting Constructions of Reality"

Patricia L. Easteal (Univerity of Canberra) has posted "Marital Rape:  Conflicting Constructions of Reality" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Marital rape is one manifestation of violence in the home. It involves more additional injuries than sexual assault by any other type of perpetrator. Yet, there is a dearth of literature in Australia – a silence that appears to have continued despite recent legislative changes that have abolished the immunity of husbands from prosecution for rape.

The current article examines three dimensions of the crime and how they are experienced by the victims and constructed within the courts: incidence, the dynamics or nature, and the effects. Differences are apparent with few rapes prosecuted, the nature of coercion interpreted narrowly by the court without a recognition of the range of duress that can be a part of a violent marriage, and the harms often minimized by judges who see the rapist’s marital tie to his victim as a mitigator. These examples indicate the need for women’s experiences to be validated and their reality reconstructed in the society and in the law.


January 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Removal Cases in Family Law

A recent Illinois appellate case reversed the lower court and permitted the removal of a child to a different state despite objections from her father, determining that the mother of the child met her burden of establishing the removal petition should be granted.  The removal will take the child from Illinois, where her father resides, to North Carolina, which will soon be the new home of her mother.  The dissent unsurprisingly suggests that de novo review is unwarranted and that instead the Court of Appeals should defer to the sufficiency of the evidence opposing removal.  Read the Illinois opinion here.

For me, these removal cases are perhaps the most unfortunate ones following a divorce because often a parent has legitimate reasons for moving to different parts of the world, even when at the risk of hurting the other parent’s relationship with the child.  This is particularly true in international marriages—and I suspect it will become a sticking point should Elin proceed with a divorce from Tiger. 


January 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)