Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

More Dishes, Less Talk

From WSJ:

This Valentine’s Day, skip the chocolate, lingerie and jewelry. Instead, practice talking less, doing the dishes and putting out. Romantic? Maybe not. The secret to a life of wedded bliss? Quite possibly.

Read more here.


July 30, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bridesmaid Costs

From CNN:

After adding up the cost of the dress, accessories, travel expenses, wedding gifts and more, found that it costs about $1,695 to be a bridesmaid. The estimate was based on a 2010 Real Weddings study that surveyed more than 20,000 brides nationwide.

The highest expenses include travel to the wedding, shower and bachelorette party, which each can cost an average of $300.

Read more here.



July 29, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cohen: "The Family, the Market, and ADR"

Amy Cohen (Ohio State Univ. College of Law) has posted "The Family, the Market, and ADR" (forthcoming J. Dispute Res.) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This Article begins with the observation that in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practice and scholarship, the family recurs as a model for thinking about other kinds of relationships, even in spheres that are commonly thought to be purely commercial or transactional in nature. This conflation of family/market paradigms is intriguing because, as Janet Halley has shown, for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, American legal thought has virtually required “the division of intellectual labor” between the law of the family, on the one hand, and the law of the market, on the other hand. The Article thus explores the unexpected connections between models of the family and the market in contemporary ADR and compares them to earlier twentieth-century dispute processing reforms. Whereas Progressive era dispute processing reformers distinguished between the problems of the family (described as public and social) and the problems of the market (described as private and individual), contemporary ADR proponents describe problems in both domains as intensively interpersonal - and thus as both private and social, albeit social in a different way. Progressive era dispute processing reformers configured “the social” as a set of preexisting, collective policy concerns that encompassed the family and demanded a specific set of public interventions from the state. By contrast, contemporary ADR reformers have reconfigured “the social” into a set of affective, mutual relationships that individuals can and should build themselves - in the market, as much as in the home. In this sense, the Article argues, contemporary ADR has much in common with popular theories of societal self-regulation that weave together economic self-interest with more open-ended ideas of interdependence, affect, altruism, social capital, and trust. Using modern ADR as a case in point, this Article thus invites readers critically to consider the complex politics and potential distributional effects of contemporary governance regimes that aspire to integrate efficiency and relationality, individualism and altruism, economics and intimacy, the market and the family.


July 28, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Russian Abortion Law

From Reuters:

Russian lawmakers, worried about a falling birth rate, passed a law on Friday that abortion advertisements must carry a health warning.

Russia has one of the world's highest abortion rates and cutting this could help it stem a demographic disaster that is looming as its population shrinks.

Under the new law approved by the lower house of parliament, 10 percent of the space used in abortion ads must carry a list of possible negative consequences for women, including infertility, RIA news agency reported.

Read more here.


July 28, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Britain's New Children's Laureate

From BBC:

The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson is Britain's new Children's Laureate, it has been announced.

The 62-year-old writer, who was born in London and lives in Glasgow, said she would "relish" the role and would be an "advocate" for reading.

She takes on the two-year post from outgoing laureate Anthony Browne.

Donaldson has written more than 120 books including The Snail And The Whale, A Squash and a Squeeze and the teenage novel, Running On The Cracks.

Her most famous work, The Gruffalo, tells the story of how a cunning mouse outwits the mythical creature and other predators during a walk in the woods.

Read more here.


July 27, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NY Divorces Up 12% Since No-Fault Introduced

From the Business Review:

Attorneys have seen early signs of the impact of “no-fault” divorce. Last fall, New York became the last state to approve that avenue for ending a marriage.


Divorce filings rose 12 percent in the first seven full months the laws were in effect, compared with the same time period before, according to state court data.

Read more here.




July 26, 2011 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Adult Adoptions


Adult adoptions appear to be rising in America, according to Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council For Adoption. The advocacy group is the only organization that tallies the number of domestic adoptions taking place in the U.S., said Johnson, though it does not specifically track adult adoptions. Statistics are difficult to compile, experts say, because many states still mandate that adoption court records are sealed and confidential.

“But anecdotally, it does seem to be occurring more frequently,” Johnson said. The most common scenario he sees: former foster children — now adults — who are being adopted by their long-time foster parents. In rare cases, adoption experts say, adults who have lost or are estranged from their biological parents befriend older people who begin to feel like mothers and fathers — and they ultimately seek to legalize that emotional attachment.

Read more here.



July 25, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Smyth: "Interviewing Adult Clients in Child Protection Matters: Advice for New Lawyers"

Gemma Smyth (Univ. of Windsor Faculty of Law) has posted "Interviewing Adult Clients in Child Protection Matters: Advice for New Lawyers" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract?

Client interviewing is a cornerstone of lawyer-client relationships, particularly in often high-conflict child protection matters. This practical article focuses on the initial interview of adult clients involved in child protection matters. Part I sets out the social context of interviewing caregivers. Part II describes the theories of client-centred and engaged client-centred lawyering employed throughout the paper. Given the context and theory, Part III sets out four key stages of interviewing that may prove difficult for new lawyers: rapport-building, fact gathering, reality checking and concluding.


July 24, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Looking for Zeus

Gwyneth Paltrow is advertising for a tutor for her kids, aged 6 and 8:

‘The ideal candidate will have received a classical education, including Latin and Greek, and be familiar with such elements as the history of thought from a philosophical perspective. He or she should also be musically fluent and play at least one instrument well. In addition, language skills are essential and the Tutor should have fluent French and at least one other of Spanish, Italian, Mandarin or Japanese. The Tutor will also need to be fit and healthy, enjoy many sports and pastimes both indoors and out, including painting, art, or art history and drama, as well as sports such as chess, tennis, fencing or a martial art.’

Read more about this kind of parenting here.


July 23, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cools, Fiva & Kirkeboen: "Causal Effects of Paternity Leave on Children and Parents"

Sara Cools, John Fiva (Norwegian School of Mgmt. Dept. of Econ) & Lars Kirkeboen have posted "Causal Effects of Paternity Leave on Children and Parents" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In this paper we use a parental leave reform directed towards fathers to identify the causal effects of paternity leave on children’s and parents’ outcomes. We document that paternity leave causes fathers to become more important for children’s cognitive skills. School performance at age 16 increases for children whose father is relatively higher educated than the mother. We find no evidence that fathers’ earnings and work hours are affected by paternity leave. Contrary to expectation, mothers’ labor market outcomes are adversely affected by paternity leave. Our findings do therefore not suggest that paternity leave shifts the gender balance at home in a way that increases mothers’ time and/or effort spent at market work.


July 22, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How to Treat Young Girls

An interesting article in the Huffington Post about how to talk to young girls:

I went to a dinner party at a friend's home last weekend, and met her five-year-old daughter for the first time.

Little Maya was all curly brown hair, doe-like dark eyes, and adorable in her shiny pink nightgown. I wanted to squeal, "Maya, you're so cute! Look at you! Turn around and model that pretty ruffled gown, you gorgeous thing!"

But I didn't. I squelched myself. As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are.

Read more here.



July 22, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Frijters, Johnston & Shields: "Destined for (Un)Happiness: Does Childhood Predict Adult Life Satisfaction?"

Paul Frijters (Queensland Univ. of Tech. School of Econ and Finance), David Johnston (Univ. of Melbourne) & Michael Shields (Univ. of Melbourne Dept. of Econ.) have posted "Destined for (Un)Happiness: Does Childhood Predict Adult Life Satisfaction?" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In this paper we address the question of how much of adult life satisfaction is predicted by childhood traits, parental characteristics and family socioeconomic status. Given the current focus of many national governments on measuring population well-being, and renewed focus on effective policy interventions to aid disadvantaged children, we study a cohort of children born in a particular week in 1958 in Britain who have been repeatedly surveyed for 50 years. Importantly, at four points in their adult lives this cohort has been asked about their life satisfaction (at ages 33, 42, 46, and 50). A substantive finding is that characteristics of the child and family at birth predict no more than 1.2% of the variance in average adult life satisfaction. A comprehensive set of child and family characteristics at ages 7, 11 and 16 increases the predictive power to only 2.8%, 4.3% and 6.8%, respectively. We find that the conventional measures of family socioeconomic status, in the form of parental education, occupational class and family income, are not strong predictors of adult life satisfaction. However, we find robust evidence that non-cognitive skills as measured by childhood behavioural-emotional problems, and social maladjustment, are powerful predictors of whether a child grows up to be a satisfied adult. We also find that some aspects of personality are important predictors. Adding contemporaneous adulthood variables for health and socio-economic status increases the predictability of average life satisfaction to 15.6%, while adding long-lags of life satisfaction increases the predictive power to a maximum of 35.5%. Repeating our analyses using data from the 1970 British Cohort Study confirms our main findings. Overall, the results presented in the paper point to average adult life satisfaction not being strongly predictable from a wide-range of childhood and family characteristics by age 16, which implies that there is high equality of opportunity to live a satisfied life, at least for individuals born in Britain in 1958 and 1970.


July 21, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


From CNN:

A tale of two different fathers has emerged in America: Those who regularly participate in their children's everyday lives and those who live apart from their kids, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

"On the one hand, fathers who live with their kids seem to be far more actively involved with their kids than they were 50 years ago," says Gretchen Livingston, the lead author of the Pew study.

"But at the same time, the share of dads living apart from their children has more than doubled" since 1960.

Now, roughly one out of every four fathers lives separately from a child, meaning 20.3 million children don't have a dad in their house.

Read more here.


July 21, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rokh: "Marriage and Divorce Under Iranian Family Law"

Ehsan Zar Rokh (University of Tehran) has posted "Marriage and Divorce Under Iranian Family Law" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The selection of a marriage partner is normally determined by customary preference, economic circumstances, and geographic considerations. Marriage arrangements in villages and among the lower and traditional middle classes of urban areas tend to follow traditional patterns. When a young man is judged ready for marriage, his parents will visit the parents of a girl whom they believe to be a suitable match. In many cases, the man will have already expressed an interest in the girl and have asked his parents to begin these formalities. If the girl's parents show similar interest in the union, the conversation quickly turns to money. There must be an agreement on the amount of the bride-price that will be given to the bride's family at the time of marriage. In principle this payment is supposed to compensate the girl's family for her loss, but in practice it is used primarily to finance the cost of the wedding. The exact sum varies according to the wealth, social position, and degree of kinship of the two families.

Once the two families have agreed to the marriage, the prospective bride and groom are considered engaged. The courtship period now commences and may extend for a year or more, although generally the engagement lasts less than twelve months. The actual wedding involves a marriage ceremony and a public celebration. The ceremony is the signing of a marriage contract in the presence of a mullah. One significant feature of the marriage contract is the mahriyeh, a stipulated sum that the groom gives to his new bride. The mahriyeh usually is not paid at the time of the marriage, especially in marriages between cousins. The contract notes that it is to be paid, however, in the event of divorce or, in case of the husband's death, to be deducted from his estate before the inheritance is divided according to religious law. If the mahriyeh is waived, as sometimes happens in urban areas, this too must be stipulated in the marriage contract. Polygyny in Iran is regulated by Islamic custom, which permits a man to have as many as four wives simultaneously, provided that he treats them equally. Shia Islam, unlike Sunni Islam, also recognizes a special form of temporary marriage called muta. In a muta marriage, the man and woman sign a contract agreeing to live together as husband and wife for a specified time, which can be as brief as several hours or as long as ninety-nine years. There is no limit on the number of muta marriages that a man may contract. Generally marriages in Islamic law have four important purposes: 1. to restrain sexual passion. 2. The ordering of domestic life. 3. The care and responsibility towards children. 4. The expansion of the family. Divorce in Iran historically has been easier for a man to obtain than for a woman. Men could exercise the right of repudiation of wives according to the guidelines of Islamic law. Women were permitted to leave their husbands on narrowly defined grounds, such as insanity or impotence. Legislation was passed permitting women to initiate divorce proceedings in certain limited circumstances. I'm trying to have empirical study about marriage and divorce in Iranian society and law.


July 20, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

MA Alimony Laws

There is some discussion in MA of a change in alimony laws.  From the Boston Herald:

Today, welfare laws reflect current expectations of self-sufficiency, allowing able-bodied persons to receive public support only temporarily. Yet, under Massachusetts divorce law, first spouses can collect alimony for life (even after the payer has retired) regardless of the duration of the marriage.

Thus, a man who earns more than his former spouse of less than five years may be forced to pay lifetime alimony, even if the ex is an educated 30-something fully capable of supporting herself.

Second wives and ex-husbands are not the only ones frustrated with the system.

Read more here.


July 20, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Parness: "Civil Unions and Parenthood at Birth"

Jeffrey Parness (Northern Illinois Univ. College of Law) has posted "Civil Unions and Parenthood at Birth" (99 Illinois B. J. (2011)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (RFPCU) took effect on June 1, 2011. It recognizes civil unions, affording unionized parties “the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits as are afforded to spouses.” Parties may be “of either the same or opposite sex.” The RFPCU reflects federal constitutional equalities. As declared in Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972), “if the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental inrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.”

Notwithstanding the directive for “same” treatment, however, marriages and opposite sex unions are naturally different than same sex unions. At times there can be no absolute sameness. Consider parenthood. Same sex unions can never produce children genetically-tied to both partners. Similarly, though husbands and wives are generally accorded equal treatment regarding children born into marriage, here too there are differences. Only wives bear children. The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that mothers automatically are accorded parental rights at birth, while fathers only have parental opportunity interests which must be affirmatively seized.

How should legal parenthood at birth arise when children are born into civil unions? Should the standards differ between same sex female and male couples? Between married and unionized opposite sex couples? These questions are addressed in the article, which explores the Parentage Act, the Gestational Surrogacy Act, and voluntary paternity acknowledgment practices. The article concludes that Illinois legislators should consider new parentage laws rather than leaving important family law policies to the Illinois courts which can only resolve assisted reproduction and other parentage cases “on the particular circumstances presented.” In re Parentage of M.J., 203 Ill.2d 526 (2003). “Unitary” families, subject to significant potential governmental protections under Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110 (1989), deserve more clarity so that parent-child relationships can develop early on with little fear of later disruptions.


July 19, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


Our friends at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog offer a great analysis of the Ohio Supreme Court's recent decision in In re Mullen on coparenting.  Read more here.


July 19, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Knauer: "'Gen Silent:' Advocating for LGBT Elders"

Nancy Knauer (Temple Univ. School of Law) has posted "'Gen Silent:' Advocating for LGBT Elders" (forthcoming Elder L. J.) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This article provides a general introduction to the specific challenges facing LGBT elders. In addition to the general burdens of aging, LGBT elders are disadvantaged by a number of LGBT-specific concerns, most notably: the legal fragility of their support systems, high levels of financial insecurity compounded by ineligibility for spousal benefits, and the continued prevalence of anti-LGBT bias on the part of their non-LGBT peers and service providers. Part I outlines the ways in which LGBT elders differ from their non-LGBT peers in terms of demographics and their reliance on “chosen family,” as well as some of the particular issues confronting transgender elders. Part II turns to two issues that loom large in the lives of LGBT elders: the closet and the constant threat of anti-LGBT bias. It contends that pre-Stonewall history continues to inform the behavior and beliefs of LGBT elders, and that the prevalence of anti-LGBT bias and violence distorts their view of the aging process. Part III discusses the extent to which LGBT elders can use traditional estate planning tools to safeguard their interests. A brief conclusion summarizes the types of reforms that are necessary to ensure dignity and equity in aging regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It argues that the limitations of existing planning tools should serve as a powerful reminder that many elder law issues require a wider lens and that the reach of elder law ultimately extends well beyond the finer points of estate planning and the spousal impoverishment rules. Aging in the U.S. is first and foremost a civil rights issue that implicates fundamental issues of justices and fairness. In this regard, the isolation and fear experienced by LGBT elders should strike a universal chord, as should their call for dignity and equity in aging.


July 18, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sister Wives' Statute

Our friends at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog are discussing the "Sister Wives" family's federal challenge to the Utah polygamy statute.  Read more here.


July 18, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wheel of Fortune

From the Seattle Times:

Scott Dole might have won $51,600 on "Wheel of Fortune," but the number dwindled to $25,800 on Wednesday, a judge decided.

Dole and his wife, Carrie, were embroiled in a contentious divorce battle over, in part, Dole's winnings on the hit game show. The issue was whether the money was community property, and, therefore, should be subject to the state's community-property law mandating equal separation of assets, or whether it was just Scott Dole's property.

Read more here.


July 16, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)