Saturday, July 31, 2010

Marriage & Divorce in Ancient Egypt

Read a recent, interesting account of marriage and divorce in ancient Egypt here.


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

Friday, July 30, 2010

French Infanticide

From Time Magazine:

The question is as horrifying as it is important to ask: Why are a rising number of French women killing their newborn babies? Finding the answer has become a matter of urgency following the discovery on Wednesday of eight infants allegedly smothered to death and buried by their mother in northern France. And with that case marking at least the fifth instance of multiple infanticide reported in France since 2003, it has become vital for the nation to confront the phenomenon that appears to be behind it all: a mental condition known as pregnancy denial.

This latest case of newborn murder in France was uncovered in the northern town of Villiers-au-Tertre, after eight tiny bodies were found buried in the gardens of two separate homes. Six of the cadavers were unearthed on July 29 by police at the house of Dominique Cottrez, 45, and her husband Pierre-Marie, 47. Investigators searched their home after the resident of a house previously owned by Dominique's parents turned up two tiny bodies on July 24 while digging a pool in the backyard. According to the French prosecutor leading the inquiry in the town, a short distance south of Lille, Dominique has admitted to hiding her pregnancies — and the killings of her babies — from her husband, whom police describe as being "dumbstruck" by the revelations. Dominique was charged for the murders; Pierre-Marie has been cleared of wrongdoing and released but could yet become a subject of investigation.

Experts explained those cases as resulting from pregnancy denial, an often misunderstood and minimized condition. According to Michel Delcroix, a former gynecologist who served as a court expert in the Courjault trial and others involving pregnancy issues, pregnancy denial is a quasi-schizophrenic condition in which women either don't realize or cannot accept that they are with child — not even enough to have an abortion. Whether these women are afflicted with the condition before they deliver or as they're suddenly giving birth, Delcroix explains, the psychological denial is so strong that they refuse to believe they're pregnant even when the reality confronts them.

"These women are so convinced pregnancy is impossible that once the child they never wanted arrives, they don't accept it as real and get rid of it to restore order to what they believe is nonpregnant reality," Delcroix says. "However terrible its consequences, pregnancy denial acts in infanticide cases much as a psychotic state that drives someone to kill another person does. Yet we still try women for what they do during pregnancy denial when we don't try psychotic killers deemed not responsible for their actions." Delcroix and others who are fighting for pregnancy denial to be medically and legally recognized as an illness argue that improving ways to identify and treat these women makes more sense than simply punishing the crimes they commit as a result of it.

Read the full story here.


July 30, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is Divorce Contagious?


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A new study suggests divorce is contagious.

The 62-year study found that couples who know someone or are related to someone who gets divorced are 75 percent more likely to split up themselves.

Local marriage counselor Dr. Matt Borer said it works like an illness. He said it can spread through families, friends and even the office.

Read more here.


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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dent: "Straight is Better: Why Law and Society May Legitimately Prefer Heterosexuality"

George W. Dent Jr. (Case Western Reserve University School of Law) has posted "Straight is Better: Why Law and Society May Legitimately Prefer Heterosexuality" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract: 
America is embroiled in a culture war over homosexuality. The homosexual movement demands the end of “heteronormativity” -- the social and legal preference for heterosexuality. It insists that “Gay Is Good” -- just as good as heterosexuality. This article presents a defense of heteronormativity; it argues that straight is better. In particular, it argues that naturally conceiving, bearing and raising children is intrinsically good for parents; that it is both intrinsically and instrumentally good for children to be raised by their biological parents who are married to each other; and that traditional marriage is both intrinsically and instrumentally good for women and men. Because of the unique benefits of traditional marriage, it is also beneficial to society. Because of these benefits, society may legitimately favor heterosexuality (e.g., in public education), although it may not punish other forms of sexual behavior that are not harmful.

July 29, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Fewer American Women Having Children

From Reuters:

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) – More American women are choosing not to have children than three decades ago, according to a new report.

Nearly 20 percent of older women do not have children, compared to 10 percent in the 1970s, the Pew Research Center said.

"In recent decades, social pressure to play traditional roles has lessened in a broad variety of ways and there is more leeway for individual choice. This could play a part in lowering pressure for people to get married and bear children," said D'Vera Cohn, a co-author of the report.

"Women have more options than in the past to build strong careers and to exercise the choice not to have children," she added in an email.

Read more here.


July 29, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Call for Papers on "Aging as a Feminist Concern"

Emory University School of Law has issued a call for papers for a January 2011 Workshop titled "Aging as a Feminist Concern."


Potential contributors are encouraged to think creatively about the relationship between aging and gender, and how feminist legal theory can be brought to bear on understanding old-age policies. To this end, possible paper topics include:


What characterizes a feminist approach to aging and how does this differ from other approaches?

How do current discourses and practices of domestic violence, family law, employment/labor law, sexuality, masculinity, and political theory engage or fail to engage with the elder population?

How does the law reinforce or enhance the vulnerability and marginalization of the elderly?

What arguments can be made for and against the proposition that the government must support caretaking and caretakers of the elderly? How do these arguments differ from those made on behalf of the caretakers of children or the disabled?

How should government "protect" older adults, what are the implications of such protection, and how might feminist legal theory inform and guide our understanding of protective policies?

How should family responsibility be structured in old-age policy?

What are the implications of health care reform for older adults aging?

Read more details and submission procedures here:  Download Call for Papers - Aging and Feminism


July 28, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

State-Funded Infertility Treatments in England & Wales

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is re-evaluating its existing guidelines to determine whether infertility treatments for women over 39 should receive state-funding.  Women aged 23 to 39 meeting set medical criteria currently are entitled up to three cycles of IVF on the NHS.  Read about it here.


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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fedders: "Race and Market Values in Domestic Infant Adoption"

Barbara Fedders (UNC School of Law) has posted "Race and Market Values in Domestic Infant Adoption" (North Carolina L. Rev. 2010) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract: 

For prospective parents seeking to adopt U.S.-born babies, white infants are the most in demand and, relatively speaking, in the shortest supply. Some domestic adoption agencies have responded to this mismatch by assessing higher fees for the adoption of white infants than for infants of other races. After briefly considering the historically prominent role played by race in the different forms of domestic adoption, this Article explores the ethical and child-welfare concerns raised by race-based pricing in private adoption agencies.


July 27, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lying Yields Rape Conviction

The blogosphere is buzzing with commentary on the rape conviction received by an Arab in Israel for lying to a Jewish woman regarding his religion in order to have sex with her.  The story is available here, read commentary here and here.


July 27, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Transgendered Spouse Denied Death Benefits

From the Houston Chronicle:

A judge Friday agreed to temporarily bar the allegedly transgendered widow of a Wharton firefighter from spending or collecting his death benefits.

State District Judge Randy Clapp ruled after hearing from Nikki Araguz that she received a check for $60,000 on Thursday, about a 10th of the total cash expected because of Thomas Araguz's July 4 death in an egg farm inferno.

The firefighter's parents have filed a lawsuit alleging that the marriage is void because Nikki Araguz was born a man.

Their attorney, Chad Ellis, said family members got what they wanted in Friday's hearing and expect to go forward.

"Nikki Araguz is someone who has conned people her entire life," said Ellis, an attorney for Simone Araguz, the firefighter's mother. "We are getting daily reports that Tommy Araguz was not the first person who this has happened to. She has deceived other men into thinking that she was born a woman."

If the marriage is voided in Texas, he said, all of the proceeds will go to Tommy Araguz's two sons from a prior marriage.

He said Thomas Araguz testified in a deposition two months ago that he did not know his wife was born a man, which was flatly disputed by Nikki Araguz.

"I had been completely honest with him about my entire history: legally, financially, physically, mentally, and medically," Nikki Araguz said after the hearing. "And I have evidence to prove such facts."

She said she looks forward to the outcome of the case.

"My husband and I loved each other very much," she said "When all of the evidence is presented, the whole world will know that I am Mrs. Capt. Thomas Araguz III, and I'm now a widow."

Nikki Araguz's attorneys have declined to comment on their defense but said they expect to file an answer to the lawsuit detailing their strategy in the coming weeks.

Friday's hearing was the first step in litigation to determine whether the two were legally married.

In court, Nikki Araguz's birth certificate, indicating that she was born a man, and an affidavit in which she changed her name were admitted into evidence.

The law that generally determines gender in Texas is a 1991 court case, Littleton v. Prange, which held that three factors - a person's gonads, genitalia and chromosomes - determine gender at birth.

Nikki Araguz's attorney, Phyllis Randolph Frye, who is transgendered, said she hopes this case will end that law.

Read the full story here.


July 26, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dillard: "Procreation, Harm, and the Constitution"

Carter Dillard (Loyola University New Orleans) has posted Procreation, Harm, and the Constitution, 105 Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy 5 (2010) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This Essay provides relatively novel answers to two related questions: First, are there moral reasons to limit the sorts of existences it is permissible to bring people into, such that one would be morally prohibited from procreating in certain circumstances? Second, can the state justify a legal prohibition on procreation in those circumstances using that moral reasoning, so that the law would likely be constitutional?

These questions are not new, but my answers to them are and add to the existing literature in several ways. First, I offer a possible resolution to a recent debate among legal scholars regarding what has been called the nonidentity problem and its relation to the right to procreate. Second, using that resolution, I provide a novel constitutional argument that at least begins to justify limiting the right to procreate.

This Essay proceeds in three parts. Part I introduces the nonidentity problem, explains why it creates seemingly irresolvable dilemmas for constitutional law, and sketches out two opposing positions in the legal debate. Part II uses a common exception to the nonidentity problem to buttress Lukas Meyer’s solution: the notion of threshold harm. If my argument holds true, one cannot admit there is such a thing as a life not “worth living” without endorsing the notion that future persons deserve lives above some minimum threshold of well-being. Finally, Part III analogizes threshold harm to the state’s compelling interest in protecting the welfare of living children. It demonstrates that if the state can limit the fundamental right to parent children when the parenting would cause the children’s lives to be below a defined threshold of well-being, then the state can limit the fundamental right to procreate.


July 26, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jailing PTA Haters?

Read more here about a Detroit prosecutor's push to jail parents for "repeatedly missing scheduled parent-teacher conferences."


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

Saturday, July 24, 2010

CA Family Judges Kept Busy

Family judges in California are overwhelmed with their case loads, hearing 30 cases a day.  Read about it here.


July 24, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Parness & Townsend: "For Those Not John Edwards: More and Better Paternity Acknowledgments at Birth"

Jeffrey A. Parness & Zachary Townsend (Northern Illinois University College of Law) have posted "For Those Not John Edwards: More and Better Paternity Acknowledgments at Birth" (forthcoming University of Baltimore Law Review) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract.

When former U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate John Edwards (finally) declared his paternity of Quinn, born of sex to Rielle Hunter, many assumed he could then begin to raise as well as financially support the child he once publicly shunned. Many assumed legal paternity could arise through a court order, if not Rielle’s wishes. Had he been on the Maury Povich television show, the positive genetic tests would have prompted the host to declare John the father. Yet notwithstanding these declarations, there would be no childrearing by John if Rielle determined he should have no contact with Quinn, even if Rielle sought child support from John and even if Quinn’s best interests favored contact between her and John. For genetic fathers like John whose bedmates are not like Rielle, there are often no opportunities to present Christmas gifts.

As John and Rielle were never married and as Rielle was not married to another, Quinn was a nonmarital child with no federal constitutional legal father at birth. At birth, John may have had a federal constitutional opportunity interest in establishing parentage, seized by stepping up to parental responsibilities. Yet, as John only declared paternity two years after birth, after denying fatherhood and prompting another man to declare his genetic ties with Quinn, he may have been too late to seize the federal opportunity interest in order to fully parent Quinn without Rielle’s cooperation. Only with Rielle’s consent could John now complete a voluntary paternity acknowledgment, a prerequisite to placing John on Quinn’s birth certificate. And with Rielle’s opposition, any paternity lawsuit by John to establish regular contacts with Quinn would most likely fail even though any paternity lawsuit to establish John’s financial support of Quinn would most likely succeed.

Popular misconceptions about legal paternity for nonmarital children born of sex largely arise due to confusion and ignorance about voluntary paternity acknowledgments. Our exploration of the federal and state acknowledgment laws reveals that a John Edwards is often no new father with legal childrearing rights so that without a Rielle Hunter’s help, his relationship with a Quinn would be limited to checks in the mail.

Voluntary acknowledgment laws are especially important today because about 1.7 million nonmarital children are born of sex each year in the United States, with about one third, like Quinn, having no legal father at birth. In 1940, there were only about 90,000 nonmarital children. Like Quinn, some of today’s fatherless children have late arriving declarations about genetic ties, and perhaps paternal child care. Far more nonmarital children remain fatherless, though possibly the subject of later suits seeking child support.

Many nonmarital children will be born fatherless under law even though U.S. governments proclaim that these children should have both a mother and father under law at birth. Voluntary paternity acknowledgment laws can better prompt dual parentage. After reviewing contemporary acknowledgment forms, we suggest laws to prompt more, and more reliable, paternity acknowledgments, and thus more legal fathers at birth for nonmarital children.


July 23, 2010 in Paternity | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Family Lawyering Undesirable?

Are Canadian lawyers unique in shying away from family law?  Read about it here.


July 23, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fertility Saving Procedure Performed on Youngest Ever Toddler

The New York Post reports on the youngest child ever to have a fertility saving procedure performed in the wake of a serious illness:

Thanks to a new miracle surgery, the hope that little Violet Lee can one day have children won't be killed by chemotherapy.

The plucky, 2-year-old Brooklyn girl is set to become the youngest person ever to undergo a fertility procedure when a New York doctor removes one of her ovaries Tuesday and freezes it while she undergoes treatment for a serious immune disease.

The tiny organ will be put on ice for 20 years or more, ready for re-implantation if and when a grown-up Violet decides to have kids of her own.

"It was important that I found a way to allow her to have children," her mom, Tikesha Lee, 32, told The Post.

Violet is set to begin chemo Wednesday, to help her with a bone-marrow transplant she must undergo because of her immune-system troubles.

Both chemo and radiation therapies can render patients sterile.

"It was hard enough to find out your baby needs to go through chemotherapy, but to hear your daughter will be sterile after the treatment -- that one thing gets healed, but another destroyed -- I felt someone punched me in the stomach," her mom said.

The day before the chemo, little Violet will head to Westchester to visit Dr. Kutluk Oktay, who will perform the experimental "fertility preservation" procedure.

The doctor has already performed the surgery on some 40 girls under the age of 18. The previous youngest was 3 years old.

Ovary transplants have already worked in adults. Of the few dozen women who have had the procedure, which Oktay pioneered in 1999, about one-third have had children, he said.

But adult patients are only separated from their ovaries for a couple of years -- not decades, like Oktay's kid patients.

"This is experimental -- down the road, they may or may not get any benefit," Oktay said.

Read more here.


July 22, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Yu: “Sequence Matters: Understanding the Relationship between Parental Income Support Receipt and Child Mortality”

Peng Yu has posted Sequence Matters: Understanding the Relationship between Parental Income Support Receipt and Child Mortality, Australian Social Policy Journal (2010).  Here is the abstract:

Previous research indicates there is a complex relationship between parental income support receipt and child mortality. This research improves understanding of the relationship using a unique administrative dataset, the Second Transgenerational Data Set (TDS2), which contains information on 127,826 Australian children, almost a whole birth cohort, and their parents. Generally, parents of children who died under age 15 years were more disadvantaged and were on income support for longer periods than were other parents. A robust finding of the research is that the association between child mortality and parental income support receipt varied significantly with the time of the receipt – before, at or after child death. In particular, the incidence of parental income support receipt reduced significantly following the death of a child, probably due to a temporary loss of income support eligibility. The research suggests that income support receipt has more complicated implications than simply as an indicator of economic disadvantage in such a case, and recommends enhanced social and economic support to bereaved parents and families.


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

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Perpetual Alimony

The battle rages on in Massachusetts to reform what many critics characterize as an antiquated and often inequitable set of principles governing alimony:

Steve Niro got married in 1981 at age 23 and divorced less than five years later. At the time of the divorce, he and his wife were in their late 20s, and both were working. Niro remarried nearly 15 years ago, but he’s still paying his alimony.

Two years ago, Niro’s youngest son graduated from college, ending child support payments and leaving his former wife with alimony of $65 a week. “The next thing I know, I get summonsed to court for alimony adjustment,’’ he says. A probate court judge increased the alimony to $700 a week even though the couple had divorced nearly a quarter of a century ago — five times longer than they were married.

“I paid child support. I paid college. I was never late. I fulfilled my obligations,’’ says Niro, 52, a Milford native who works for an environmental engineering firm in Portland, Maine. “I just have to hope that legislators in Massachusetts have enough sense to pass a law that puts guidelines on alimony because the courts don’t exercise any common sense or logic.’’

Niro and other men — and women — like him say the state’s alimony law is archaic, reflecting an era when women kept house and men provided. Today, with women making up nearly half the workforce, they say alimony should be a temporary boost, not a lifetime subsidy.

Critics charge that the Legislature has avoided the issue for years in part because drawn-out divorce litigation is lucrative for lawmakers, many of whom are lawyers. Now these critics are working to change the law, a vague statute that gives judges wide discretion over alimony awards. Two bills have been introduced, and a legislative task force is working on a third version.

The current law sets no formulas or guidelines, saying only that the length of the marriage, assets, occupation, and employment aspects will be considered in setting alimony. Massachusetts probate judges have relied largely on case law and generally consider any marriage of more than 20 years a long-term marriage that merits lifetime alimony, or payments until the recipient remarries. But often marriages of much shorter duration — such as Niro’s — also result in lifetime payments.

Last fall, a crowd of frustrated alimony payers testified at a State House hearing on a bill that would amend the law.

Introduced by Steven Walsh, Democrat of Lynn, the bill attracted 72 cosponsors. It would limit alimony payments to half the length of the marriage, with a cap of 12 years and automatic termination when the payer turns 65. It would protect second spouses’ income from contributing to the alimony award for first spouses. The court would have to consider “the marketable skills’’ and “willingness and diligence’’ of the recipient to seek work. In addition, if the recipient is cohabiting with a partner, alimony would be decreased substantially.

But that bill has been shelved, and critics of the existing law say the large number of lawyer legislators, many of whom practice family law, is the reason. They argue that the current law encourages endless expensive litigation.

Read the full story here.


July 21, 2010 in Maintenance (alimony) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Surrogacy in Ireland

Irish couples have been experiencing troubles with surrogate parenthood, going abroad to engage in surrogacy.  Read more here.


July 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Riba: "Principles and Prospects for a European System of Child Protection"

Josep Ferrer Riba (Universitat Pompeu Fabra) has posted "Principles and Prospects for a European System of Child Protection" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In the process of restating the principles of European family law currently underway, it should be asked to what extent a common European system of child protection exists and what principles and values it comprises. In our view this system is multi-polar and has to be built from the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the instruments emanating from the Council of Europe, and especially from European Court of Human Rights case law. The article sets out and discusses the procedural and substantive principles derived from this case law. Although the UN Convention and ECtHR case law – applying the Rome Convention – approach child protection from opposing perspectives (in one case the affirming of children’s rights, and in the other, the right to respect for family autonomy) a trend towards convergence and interaction between Conventions and their monitoring bodies can be discerned in recent ECtHR decisions. The final part of the article assesses this trend and the perspectives for the future.


July 20, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)