Monday, September 20, 2010

Katrina Babies

CNN recently had a story about giving birth during Katrina.  Read it here.


September 20, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Boyd: "No Presumptions! Joint Custody in the British Columbia Court of Appeal"

Susan B. Boyd (University of British Columbia Faculty of Law) has posted "No Presumptions! Joint Custody in the British Columbia Court of Appeal" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This paper examines the treatment of joint custody in the British Columbia Court of Appeal from 1996 through 2008, comparing to the “cautious” approach taken by the Ontario Court of Appeal. The B.C. Court of Appeal has taken a strong stance against the use of presumptions, either for or against joint custody. However, in a society and a legal system that increasingly favours shared parenting, the lack of a cautionary approach to joint custody can lead to complacency about its appropriateness in circumstances that either generate risk (to a parent or a child) or are not conducive to consensual decision-making. Moreover, the ability of B.C. judges to order joint guardianship (which usually connotes some form of joint decision-making) even when joint custody is deemed inappropriate suggests that the trend towards some form of joint award is quite strong. That said, judges often craft an award that preserves final decision-making for one parent.


September 19, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Child Bullies

Time recently ran a story titled “How to Bully-Proof Young Girls.”  Read it here.


September 18, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kindregan: "Taxing Parenthood: Federal Tax Law and Collaborative Reproduction"

Charles Kindregan, Jr. (Suffolk University School of Law) has posted "Taxing Parenthood: Federal Tax Law and Collaborative Reproduction" (forthcoming American Journal of Family Law, Vol. 24, No. 3, p. 134) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This article examines the novel issues dealing with the application of the federal tax code to collaborative reproduction, i.e. assisted reproductive technology involving third parties in the procreative process. Although collaborative reproduction has become a billion dollar business in the United States, the tax issues arising from it has for the most part been obscured from public view. Payment to a collaborator for gametes, embryos and birthing a child for another obviously raise tax issues, but often attempts are made to avoid reporting such payments, especially to surrogate carriers and egg donors. While deductions may be allowed for the costs of collaborative reproduction, the only analogous rulings may be those having to do with blood and human milk. There is a little literature on the subject, but except for a decision of the tax court on deduction of legal and medical payments and the cost of employing a surrogate carrier, there appears to be no practical controlling law. Given the economic reality of transfer of money in the field of reproductive medicine this article may help to focus attention on the subject.


September 17, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Depressed Preschoolers?

The New York Times magazine recently posed the question: can preschoolers be depressed?  Read the analysis here.


September 17, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Substantial Decrease in the Number of Kids in Foster Care

From the AP:

The number of U.S. children in foster care has dropped 8 percent in just one year, and more than 20 percent in the past decade, according to new federal figures underscoring the impact of widespread reforms.

The drop, hailed by child-welfare advocates, is due largely to a shift in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many have been shortening stays in foster care, speeding up adoptions and expanding preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed from their homes in the first place.

The new figures, released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services, show there were 423,773 children in foster care as of Sept. 30. That's down from 460,416 a year earlier and from more than 540,000 a decade ago.

California had the biggest one-year drop — from 67,703 to 60,198. Just eight years ago, the state had more than 90,000 children in foster care.

Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania are among other major states that have lowered their numbers sharply over the decade.

"It's extraordinary," said Terri Braxton, a vice president of the Child Welfare League of America. "There's been a major focus on foster-care awareness, on new legislative policies, and it's heartening to see that these efforts are finally paying off."

Though many of the initiatives are at the state level, Braxton said the trend had been aided by a federal law, the 2008 Fostering Connections Act. It allows use of federal funds to assist children who leave foster care to live with relatives other than their parents — an arrangement which in the past was generally not eligible for federal aid.

Braxton said many challenges remain, including dealing with the increasing number of foster youths aging out of the system without a permanent family. The number of such youths rose from 19,000 in 1999 to a record high of nearly 30,000 in 2008.

Read the full story here.


September 16, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Recession Might Lower Birth Rate in U.S.

From AP:

The U.S. birth rate has dropped for the second year in a row, and experts think the wrenching recession led many people to put off having children. The 2009 birth rate also set a record: lowest in a century.

Births fell 2.7 percent last year even as the population grew, numbers released Friday by the National Center for Health Statistics show.

"It's a good-sized decline for one year. Every month is showing a decline from the year before," said Stephanie Ventura, the demographer who oversaw the report.

The birth rate, which takes into account changes in the population, fell to 13.5 births for every 1,000 people last year. That's down from 14.3 in 2007 and way down from 30 in 1909, when it was common for people to have big families.

Read more here.


September 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Family Law Teaching Opportunity

ALBANY LAW SCHOOL invites applications for a Tenure Track Clinical Professor position to teach in its Clinic & Justice Center beginning in the Fall 2011 semester.  The position involves teaching a Family Violence Litigation clinical course through which second- and third-year law students learn about domestic violence dynamics, the substantive law and procedure of Family Court, and represent domestic violence survivors. Candidates must demonstrate 1) a strong academic and practice background, 2) experience in or capacity for teaching excellence in a law school clinical setting, and 3) a capacity for and commitment to excellence in scholarship.


ALBANY LAW SCHOOL is a small, independent private school in New York State’s capital.  Established in 1851, it is the oldest independent law school in the nation and the oldest law school in New York State.  The school’s Clinic & Justice Center has a national reputation for excellence in clinical teaching and public service.


Applications (electronic preferred) will be accepted until November 1, 2010.  They should include a cover letter, resume, list of publications, and three references, and be sent to the Faculty Recruitment Committee c/o Barbara Jordan-Smith, Dean’s Office, Albany Law School, 80 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, New York, 12208-3494, [email protected].



September 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The 4-Hour Workweek

I am late on the bandwagon, but I have just fallen in love with The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.  The point is not necessarily to work just 4 hours per week, but to become efficient and productive.  Anyone balancing many things in life and family, read a review of the book here, and check out the book here.  


September 15, 2010 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

China to Relax the One Child Rule?

USAToday reports on a push for abolishing or relaxing the Chinese one child rule:

An aging population and the need for more workers have prompted China's Communist Party to consider relaxing the decades-long ban that restricts most couples to one child, a harsh policy marked by forced abortions, sterilizations and fines for those who have more than one.

In 2011, China will start pilot projects in five provinces, all of which have low birth rates, to allow a second birth if at least one spouse is an only child, says He Yafu, an independent demographer who is in close contact with policymakers.

Beijing, Shanghai and four other provinces will follow suit in 2012, with nationwide implementation by 2013 or 2014, he says.

"In the past, we only focused on slowing population growth," says Peng Xizhe, a professor at Shanghai's Fudan University. "It's much more complicated than we earlier thought."

Also, a traditional preference for boys has led to the abortion of many girls. In 2009, the ratio of newborn boys to newborn girls was 119 to 100, according to China's National Bureau of Statistics.

The need for more children to care for parents, plus a gender imbalance that will leave tens of millions of men without wives, are two arguments for a relaxation of the one-child policy, says Siu Yat-ming, who researches Chinese family planning at Hong Kong Baptist University. Cindy Zhao, who is eight months pregnant with her second child, can't wait. "I will be punished, but we can afford it," says Zhao of the likely $30,000 fine for her illegal birth.

Read more here.


September 14, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Titshaw: “Sorry, Ma’am, Your Baby is an Alien: Outdated Immigration Rules and Assisted Reproductive Technology”

Scott Titshaw (Mercer University School of Law) has posted Sorry, Ma’am, Your Baby is an Alien: Outdated Immigration Rules and Assisted Reproductive Technology, 12 Florida Coastal Law Review (forthcoming 2010) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The growing use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and legal recognition of same-sex relationships are raising questions regarding the recognition of parent-child relationships. State and foreign family law have been wrestling with these issues for decades, but U.S. immigration law is lagging far behind.

So far, guidance exists on only one ART related issue under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA): whether a U.S. citizen transmits her citizenship to a child born abroad. Unfortunately, that guidance is contradictory. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) requires genetic kinship for citizenship transmission. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals focuses on the parents’ marriage, requiring no genetic link between a child born in wedlock and a U.S. citizen parent.

Married, different-sex couples are the most likely cohort to use ART to build a family. However, this issue may be even more important to same-sex couples. Since birth certificates are the primary evidence used to demonstrate a parent-child relationship, they are more likely to suffer from a genetic-relationship requirement.

This article aims to resolve this and other issues regarding INA recognition of parent-child relationships stemming from ART. It briefly reviews the various ways that state laws have dealt with ART related parentage issues. It then explores the legislative, administrative and judicial history of the relevant INA provisions, paying particular attention to developments dealing with “legitimacy,” an issue that raised similar questions during the twentieth century. It argues for deference to state and foreign law in determining the parentage of children conceived through ART and whether the child was “born in wedlock.”


September 14, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 13, 2010

North Dakota's Attempts at Foster Care Reform

A description of a North Dakota "family preservation initiative" that seeks to reform the foster care system:

North Dakota is at the forefront of a new trend in the way foster care is administered: Don't put children in foster care.

The idea is to help families help themselves so they can keep their children, rather than having a judge order them into the foster care system.

When children stay with their families, they typically do better in school, and the odds of them aging out of the foster care system and struggling with adult life free of the assistance they received before are diminished, said Gary Wolsky, president and CEO of The Village Family Service Center in Fargo.

"The problems get costlier to fix if left untended," Wolsky said. "Prevention is always cheaper."

The effort could save taxpayers a bundle because it's more expensive to put a child through foster care than it is to help the whole family, Wolsky said.

The family preservation initiative has also grabbed the attention of some North Dakota lawmakers, who say they hope to see the idea take off in the state.

"In the long run, I think it will cost us less money," said Sen. Judy Lee, R-West Fargo.

North Dakota lawmakers have had an eye on early family intervention since 2006, when a pilot family empowerment program the Family Group Decision Making Program was started.

This puts an emphasis on child safety, permanency, and placing foster children in adoption as soon as necessary, which may include terminating parental rights of biological parents. There are still times when, for a variety of reasons and despite additional help, parents are not able to adequately care for a child.

It costs an estimated $3,000 to $4,000 for one family to participate in family preservation programs. This method tends to cost less over the long term because foster children usually spend an average of a year in foster care, said Sandi Zaleski, who works for The Village and is the director for these programs.

On the flip side, a foster family with a 10-year-old could get up to $752 a month, which adds up to $9,024 a year, not including other expenses.

Read more here.


September 13, 2010 in Termination of Parental Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reverse Tuition


For the first time, a local organization is offering parents a cash incentive to enroll their children at Jefferson. The money is limited to students who didn't attend the school last year. To get it, the kids must finish this semester with near-perfect attendance and receive no out-of-school suspensions; the parent must attend three PTO meetings. The program is being offered to families in three mixed-income housing complexes surrounding the school, where most of the students live.

Read more here.


September 13, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Polygamy and Polyamory in Canada

From The American Spectator:

While the United States is occupied with the federal challenge to California's Proposition 8, Canada has its own pending marriage case, which is likely headed for the Canadian Supreme Court. Canada, which redefined marriage nationwide to include same-sex couples in 2005, against the backdrop of successful provincial lawsuits against the country's marriage law, could be moving on to bigger things -- literally. Specifically, polygamy and polyamory, as this case invokes the question of whether the government can continue to criminalize multiple-partner marriages. The case itself, initiated by the British Columbia Attorney General under a special provision of that Province's law, arises in the wake of failed prosecutions of polygamous sect members in British Columbia.

Advocates of polygamy and polyamory seem to have an ally in the Law Commission of Canada, a statutory body of government appointees who propose changes to modernize Canadian law and report to the Justice Ministry. In 2001, the Commission issued a report, Beyond Conjugality: Recognizing and Supporting Close Personal Adult Relationships, that questioned the continuing illegality of consensual polygamy in Canada.

Recently, the case has been uniquely complicated by an intervening interest group called the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association. The Association is seeking an adjudication of sorts that the Canadian laws regarding polygamy (one man with more than one wife) do not apply to polyamory ("multiple conjugal relationships"). CPAA's "twist" on the law is that polyamory is just fine, and ought to be allowed, while polygamy can remain unsuitable for Canadian society. The rationale for their argument is the contention that, beyond the social science data that shows it is harmful, polygamy promotes gender inequality, and often involves coercion.

"Polyamory," by contrast, is strictly egalitarian and consensual, according to CPAA, and thus does not involve or promote one gender over the other. Affidavits filed in court detail (1) a woman and her male partner who live and have relationships with two other adults in the household (they also have a child living in the home) and who have agreed that each can pursue relationships with others, (2) a woman who lives with two other men (two of her teenage sons also live in the home), (3) a husband and wife who live with another adult (and the married couples' two young children and the third person's teenage children), and (4) a man who lives with a woman and another man (with whom he is raising a two-year-old child). Polyamory advocates also tout a lack of social science evidence showing any harm from its practice. In other words, the CPAA is arguing that since you can't prove that polyamory is bad for society, it must be good.

If we take seriously the idea that marriage laws have an educative function, polyamory raises red flags. On each of the core functions of marriage -- promoting fidelity, providing a tie between children and parents, securing permanence for spouses and their children -- polyamory seems particularly harmful. Both traditional polygamy and polyamory promote types of infidelity (though the former is of a more orderly variety), of course, but the chaos of polyamory blurs distinctions of parenthood more significantly than does a setting where a child has an established set of parents and lots of half-siblings. The ethic of "choice" at the root of polyamory does not bode well for permanence either.

Read the full article here.


September 12, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Men, Dance Like This...

If you're male, watch this video here about the most desirable dancing--if the purpose is to attract women. If you're female, marvel at the dance moves shown?    

Hat Tip: GH


September 11, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Child Support & Filiation in Missouri

News report on changes to MO law that make it easier for fathers to challenge child support orders based on paternity:

It didn’t take long for Michael W. to confirm that the 2½-year-old girl for whom he was paying child support wasn’t really his biological daughter.

He just had a DNA test done one weekend when she was with him for visitation.

But it has taken three years since then for Michael, 35, to finally make his case to a judge that he should not have to keep making those payments.

Until a new law went into effect last year, Michael and other men like him were stuck. Even if they had DNA evidence proving that they were not the biological fathers, they still were obligated to make child support payments until the child turned 18.

But Michael and thousands of other such Missouri men now have the opportunity to legally answer the paternity question and, perhaps, get out from under payments that they think are unfair.

The new law allows men broader opportunities to petition courts to order DNA testing and then set aside paternity judgments and child support obligations.

Under the new law, any man paying child support can file a challenge to the paternity question until Dec. 31, 2011. After that, men will have two years to file such lawsuits after judgments of paternity or support have been entered.

The old law permitted such challenges for only a year. Previously, the presumed father had to prove fraud — that is, that the woman had lied to him about being the father.

The Missouri General Assembly moved to change the law after an appeals court ruled in January 2009 that despite Michael’s proof that he was not the father, state law offered no help.

“He is certainly correct that scientific advancements in the determination of parentage raise new issues not previously addressed,” the appeals court wrote. “This court, however, is not the legislature. Whether our statutes are inadequate in light of scientific advancements to provide appropriate relief to these types of cases is a question better suited for the legislature.”

Lawyers cautioned, however, that a man who was not the father still could be ordered to pay child support.

After DNA testing is complete, the law calls for a judgment that is “in the best interest of the parties,” a new and untested standard that has not yet been refined by case law and appeals courts. Under the old system, the “best interests of the child” prevailed.

Read the full article here.


September 10, 2010 in Child Support (establishing) | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Justice Ginsburg & Parenting

A great story about Justice Ginsburg’s parenting trials and tribulations:

From Slate:

After she finished reading her husband's charmingly funny speech, and while folks in the audience were still wiping away tears, Ginsburg sat down for a "fireside chat" with the chief justice of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, NPR's Nina Totenberg, and Robert Henry, the president of Oklahoma City University. (The woman sitting next to me whispered that the setup looked an awful lot like The View.) In response to a question about work-life balance, Ginsburg explained that in the early '70s, her son, "what I called a lively child but school psychologists called hyperactive," was forever in trouble and that she was constantly called in to his school, even though she and her husband both had full-time jobs.

"One day, I was particularly weary," she explained, and so when the school called, she said, "This child has two parents. I suggest you alternate calls, and it's his father's turn." She said calls from the school came much less frequently after that, because the school was "much less inclined to take a man away from his job."

Read the rest here.


September 10, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Divorce Porn

Piece in the New York Times on "The Joys of Vicarious Divorce":

The biggest adult film of the summer centers on a divorce (“Eat Pray Love”), the most talked-about television series of the moment revolves around a divorced couple (“Mad Men”), the hottest revival on Broadway of the season pivots on divorce (“Promises, Promises”), the bawdiest memoir of the year chronicles an affair that eventually led to a high-profile divorce (Andrew Young’s “The Politician”).

A recently separated friend of mine, still in her 30s, has a term for the current cultural fixation with failing marriages. She calls it “divorce porn.” “Married people are obsessed with divorced people,” she said, particularly their sex lives.

The Hugh Hefner of divorce porn is Elizabeth Gilbert, of course. She helped popularize the recent surge. Her 2006 memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love,” uses her painful divorce at 32 as a starting point for an exuberant yearlong “search for everything” across Italy, India and Indonesia, including lavish meals, romantic affairs and a happy ending in the arms of an exotic man (also divorced).

Like all pornography, the film “Eat Pray Love” openly objectifies its subject, in this case the misunderstood middle-age woman seeking self-discovery. The camera positively lingers on Ms. Roberts’s orgasmic reaction to a bowl of spaghetti, her impassioned defense of her “muffin top” midsection, her adoring stare as her avuncular lover kisses his college-age son on the lips, and waits — and waits — for the right time to have sex. The film’s money shot involves Javier Bardem putting on a mix tape, folding down the corner of his lover’s paperback, then whispering in her ear, “It’s time,” as Julia Roberts discreetly closes the bamboo door in the camera’s face.

Forget Penthouse, here divorce porn seems closer to a Williams-Sonoma catalog.

But in a manner that might make for a neat twist in one of Ms. Roberts’s novels, the obsession with divorce is playing out against a remarkable backdrop: actual divorce is plummeting. The divorce rate in America is at a 30-year low. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the current divorce rate at 3.5 per 1,000, down 8 percent in the last five years, 16 percent since 2000, and a staggering 34 percent since its peak in 1979. Roughly 20,000 fewer American couples are divorcing every year as compared with a decade ago.

The upshot of this convergence is a fascinating cultural dissonance: Americans seem to be talking about divorce more, while divorcing less. Divorce porn may be that rare indulgence that actually slakes interest in the activity it celebrates. Don’t like divorce; partake in more divorce porn.

Read the full article here.


September 9, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Upcoming Conference

The IV World Congress on Child and Adolescent Rights is being held in Puerto Rico from November 15-18, 2010.  More information is available at


September 9, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The History of Divorce Law

A fantastic historical look at the difficulty of obtaining a divorce in New York appeared recently in the Wall Street Journal.  An excerpt:

In the early 20th century, a number of young women hired themselves out as "correspondents" in divorce cases—essentially bait for philandering husbands. In 1934, the New York Mirror published an article titled, "I Was the 'Unknown Blonde' in 100 New York Divorces!"—featuring one Dorothy Jarvis, who earned as much as $100 a job. Ms. Jarvis had several tactics, beyond taking her date to a hotel room and awaiting ambush. There was the "push and raid" (where she would push herself into a man's room, dressed only in a fur coat, then whip off her outer garment), as well as the "shadow and shanghai" and the "dance and dope."

Read the piece here.


September 8, 2010 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)