Family Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Greek Family Law Abolishes Shariah

It is being reported that family law reforms in Greece will abolish the Shariah for Greek Muslims, which permits polygamy and permits only men to divorce their spouses.  Read more here.


August 31, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Book Review by Carbone and Cahn

On the Concurring Opinions blog, Professors June Carbone and Naomi Cahn review a new book by Stanford Law's Richard Banks, which is entitled Is Marriage for White People? How African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone.

Carbone and Cahn write:

As in 1965, however, the notable exception to the rosy picture for family stability, at least for the elite, comes from African-Americans.   While the white non-marital birth rate for college graduates has stayed at 2%; for African-American  college graduates, the numbers are rising and now approach the 25% level that caused such alarm at the time of the Moynihan report. National Marriage Project, fig. S.2, p. 56.

Stanford Law Professor Richard Banks, in a book that has already triggered fireworks, courageously addresses the issue.   In Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone, he points out the enormous disparity between the marriage rates of black men and black women and the fact that the issue is no longer one limited to the black underclass.  While marriage has effectively disappeared from the poorest communities (the non-marital birth rates for black high school dropouts is 96%), Banks’ concern is successful African-American women.  Their marriage rates have been dropping, and their dissatisfaction with the behavior of black men is the subject of plays, movies and Banks’ book.  Banks’ explanation is straightforward: black women have been so disproportionately successful that they outnumber the men.  So, too, is his solution.  He writes the book to argue that the only realistic choice for African-American women is to marry outside the race and as a prominent African-American male, he is effectively giving them permission.

Read more of the book review here.


August 31, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mel Gibson's Child Custody Settled

From the New York Times:

Mel Gibson and his ex-girlfriend on Friday settled a deeply bitter custody dispute over their young daughter which led to the Oscar winner's plea of no contest to domestic violence earlier this year.

Los Angeles Superior Court said in a statement an agreement was complete and terms will be heard on August 31. A spokesman for the "Braveheart" film director confirmed the parties had settled.

Read more here.


August 30, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Scope of Students' First Amendment Rights


An Indiana school district might appeal a summary judgment that said it violated two students' First Amendment rights by punishing them for posting racy photos to social networking sites, the district's lawyer said.


As schools and courts grapple with determining where a school's authority ends online, more First Amendment cases like this one will crop up, said Catherine Ross, a professor at The George Washington University Law School and author of the forthcoming "The Troubled First Amendment in Our Public Schools."

"Traditionally, one could talk about a kind of geographical analogy with speech in schools," Ross said. "It was fairly clear what speech took place in school and what speech took place out of school."

New tests are starting to emerge to determine whether online speech takes place "in" school, such as determining whether the person who created the speech made it available at school. Without such distinctions, "the school would become almost a police state that could reach out and discipline students for what they do anywhere," Ross said.

Read more here.


August 29, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Japanese Egg Donation


Upon returning from her trip to South Korea, a 30-year-old woman in western Japan suffered lower abdominal pain for several days. Her stomach became so bloated that she resembled a pregnant woman.

Despite the secrecy, the pain and the stress surrounding her visit to Seoul, she feels satisfied for doing some good for Japanese society.

The woman is one of at least 100 young Japanese who have traveled to Seoul and Bangkok over the past year to provide eggs for in vitro fertilization.

Japanese law does not allow women to provide eggs to others, forcing Japanese couples with infertility issues to go abroad for the in vitro procedure. They usually want the egg donor to be Japanese.

Read more here.


August 27, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Divorce in the South


While the Bible Belt is known for its devotion to traditional values, Southerners don't do so well on one key family value: They are more likely to get divorced than people living in the Northeast.

Southern men and women had higher rates of divorce in 2009 than their counterparts in other parts of the country: 10.2 per 1,000 for men and 11.1 per 1,000 for women, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday.

By comparison, men and women in the Northeast had the lowest rates of divorce, 7.2 and 7.5 per 1,000, which is also lower than the national divorce rate of 9.2 for men and 9.7 for women.


Values about premarital sex associated with the Bible Belt and rural America may be encouraging people to marry early, at ages when they are likely to have less education and less income to support a long-lasting marriage, according to Naomi Cahn, law professor at The George Washington University Law School and co-author of "Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture."

"There's a moral crisis in red states that's produced by higher divorce rates and the disparity between parental values and behavior of young adults," said Cahn. "There is enormous tension between moral values and actual practices."

Read more here.


August 25, 2011 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

In-Law Suites in Homes

From USA Today:

Tuer's renovation reflects an accelerating trend toward adding second units to homes, whether for extra cash or elder care. These tidy units — known as in-law suites, granny flats, sidekicks, backyard cottages or, in Australia, "kangaroo apartments" — serve multiple purposes at a time retiring Baby Boomers are trying to stay in their homes despite shrinking stock portfolios, adult children can't find jobs and aging parents need help.

Sometimes, they bring families closer together. And in the case of the late college football star Billy Bye (more about him later), they rekindled romance.

Read more here.



August 25, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Family & London Riots

From IBB Solicitors:

A “family test” will be applied to all new domestic policy in a bid to prevent the scenes of rioting and looting which shocked England recently, the Prime Minister has said.

David Cameron confirmed that the coalition government will shift its focus to families, family law and parenting as it attempts to repair what he described as Britain’s “broken society”.

He told a youth centre in his Witney constituency that many of those who took part in the civil disorder did not have a father figure in their home life and had instead sought male role models on the streets.

Read more here.



August 24, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Call for Papers: Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network

Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network

January 2012 Conference

Invitation and Call for Papers

The Feminist Legal Theory CRN is a newly-constituted group that seeks to bring together scholars across a range of fields who are interested in feminist legal theory. The inaugural meeting took place at the Law and Society Association meeting in June 2011; the next meeting will be held at George Washington University Law School on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, the day before the AALS annual meeting.

Paper proposals on any topic pertaining to legal feminism are being accepted until September 23, 2011. For instructions on registering, submitting a proposal, or participating in this and other activities of the Feminist Legal Theory CRN, please see the detailed information posted here: .


August 22, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Adoption in VA

From Pilot Online:

Gay rights advocates notched a victory Wednesday when the State Board of Social Services agreed to allow more time for public comment on proposed state adoption standards that lack protection against discrimination against gays and some other prospective parents.

But the extra 30 days granted by the board may do little more than delay the approval of the regulations, which govern private child placement agencies licensed by the state.

The extended comment period will begin next month and continue through Oct. 12, about one week before the next board meeting.

From there, the board has the option to approve the regulations as is or amend them.

Read more here.


August 22, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Family Law in Israel


Interior Minister Eli Yishai is expected to ask the cabinet today to extend by another six months an emergency order that significantly limits the possibilities for mixed Palestinian-Israeli couples to live together in Israel. In practical terms, the order prevents the unification of hundreds of families.

The cabinet is expected to approve the extension, despite the sharp criticism of it in the government and by the courts, according to which the order is not grounded in a particular law. The last time the interior minister asked for an extension of the order, the cabinet instructed the justice minister to finish passing legislation on the matter as quickly as possible. This was not done.

Read more here.


August 20, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Family Law in Austria

From Austrian Times:

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Minister for Women Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek has revealed plans of a significant family law reform.

The minister told magazine profil she wanted to change current regulations to help unmarried couples. Heinisch-Hosek said Austrian law should feature regulations considering how assets are shared if people break up. She added unmarried adults should have the right to obtain information on their partners’ condition if they are hospitalised. Medics are currently not obliged to disclose such information to people who are living together but are not married. Austrian family law means unmarried people have no general right to inherit their deceased partner’s possessions. It fails to feature a regulation regarding pensions too.

Read more here.


August 19, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ryznar & Stepien-Sporek: "Child Support for Adult Children"

Margaret Ryznar & Anna Stepien Sporek have posted "Child Support for Adult Children" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Although family law requires parents to support their minor children, the question of post-majority support - or child support for adult children - is entirely different. Some states permit this type of child support, while others do not. Those affected by this divergence in approaches include college students, unemployed people, disabled people, and of course, their parents - at a time of financial difficulty for many. The approach of each jurisdiction to this issue rests on whether the family is viewed as a social support system and whether intergenerational obligations exist. To help analyze these questions, this Article uses a comparative approach, considering the relevant law and public policy of both Europe and the United States.


August 18, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Family Law in Japan

From the Japan Times Online:

Those focused on the government's stumbling efforts to protect the children of Fukushima from radioactive contamination may find this hard to believe, but Japanese family law just got more child-friendly — maybe. If Japan finally signs the Hague Convention on child abduction, as it appears it will, it could become even more so. There is a big "maybe" here too, so it remains to be seen whether these two steps taken by the Diet will steer the country away from its status as a black hole for parental abduction or leave it treading the same sorry path.

On May 27 a law was passed amending a number of provisions in the Civil Code relating to children and their parents. First, Article 766 of the code was revised to require parents seeking a cooperative (i.e., nonlitigated) divorce to decide upon visitation, child support payments and other matters relevant to their children's upbringing after divorce. Furthermore, the new provision says that the welfare of the children must be the primary consideration when these matters are decided.

Read more here.



August 18, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Divorce-Proofing A Business

From Entrepreneur:

For those whose marriage is in trouble or who are about to begin a divorce, a few strategies can help preserve a business. Once the divorce proceedings start, entrepreneurs won't likely be able to implement some other legal maneuvers that, if accomplished in happier times, could keep their business from landing in a soon-to-be ex's possession. 


Is your marriage headed toward a breakup? Here are seven strategies to consider if a divorce is threatened or already underway and your company is considered a joint asset.

Read more here.


August 17, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mental Illness & Parenting

From City Limits:

It's a common misconception, within New York City's child welfare system, says Lauren Shapiro, the executive director of Brooklyn Family Defense Project, where Marcus works. "There's a total lack of understanding of the difference between the two," Shapiro says. "They're really not equipped to deal with mental health issues."

Parents who actually do have mental illness sometimes get mishandled too, Shapiro says, by a system that assumes it's impossible for them to be fit parents simply because they have a diagnosis. "We see insensitivity toward our clients, laughing at behaviors that are a result of mental health issues," Shapiro says. "What we see is that parent's conditions also really deteriorate when they come into the ACS system."

Shapiro's perception is one that is shared by several child welfare advocates and echoed by a winter 2009 Child Welfare Watch report that documented systemic problems with the child welfare system's management of mental health issues. The report found that mental health evaluations "are requested far more often than necessary, even in cases in which there is no mental health allegation."

Read more here.


August 16, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sanders: "Where Sovereigns and Cultures Collide: Balancing Federalism, Tribal Self-Determination, and Invididual Rights in the Adoption of Indian Children by Gays and Lesbians"

Steve Sanders (VAP at Univ. of Mich.) has posted "Where Sovereigns and Cultures Collide: Balancing Federalism, Tribal Self-Determination, and Individual Rights in the Adoption of Indian Children by Gays and Lesbians" (25 Wisc. J. L., Gender & Soc. 327 (2010)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This article analyzes the complex interplay between adoption (traditionally a matter reserved to state family law) and the federal Indian Child Welfare Act in the context of adoptions by gays and lesbians.

As a federal statute that partially preempts state law for the benefit of Native Americans, ICWA implicates three sovereigns: the United States, the state where the adoption petition is brought, and the tribe whose child is the focus of the proceeding. This interplay of sovereigns in itself makes Indian child welfare law complicated and interesting. Beyond these sovereign interests, also to be considered are the interests and rights of individuals: the child, the birth parents, and the prospective adoptive parent(s). In cases where the petitioner’s sexual orientation is an issue, an Indian child adoption proceeding also holds the potential to become a clash of cultures. A tribe with a tradition of tolerance toward sexual or gender diversity might find its members in the courts of a state with a public policy that disapproves of gays and lesbians as adoptive parents. Or the opposite may occur: a tribe might object based on its cultural beliefs to a child’s placement in a gay or lesbian household, even though the state supports adoption equality. Prospective parents who are required to bring a petition in tribal court may find themselves in a legal world that subordinates their interests to those of the child or the tribe, operates by informal rules, and looks to cultural traditions in rendering legal judgments. These scenarios all arise at the tangled intersection of traditional state family law, Indian culture, federal Indian policy, and evolving principles of gay/lesbian equality. They implicate both practical and doctrinal puzzles, but so far scholars have had little or nothing to say about them.

When an adoption petitioner’s sexual orientation becomes an issue in an adoption proceeding under ICWA, the question will arise: do the federal policies embedded in ICWA ever determine, or at least influence, whether or not such an adoption must be granted or subsequently recognized as valid, taking into account the petitioner’s sexual orientation? Even though ICWA makes no mention of sexual orientation and, ostensibly, has nothing to do with gay/lesbian adoption, I explain the answer is yes: where a prospective parent’s sexual orientation is an issue in the adoption of an Indian child, sometimes ICWA will make a difference in whether the adoption is granted or recognized. Under certain circumstances, ICWA’s requirements might lead to a gay or lesbian individual or couple being denied an adoption in tribal court that they could have obtained in state court. In other circumstances, ICWA will require a state to recognize a gay/lesbian adoption finalized in tribal court even though that state would not have granted the placement itself.

I also discuss whether ICWA gives decisive leverage in a state-court adoption proceeding to a tribe’s views on homosexuality; I conclude it does not. Finally, and perhaps most controversially, I argue that ICWA should override a state’s anti-gay adoption policy if such a law would present a roadblock to the placement of an Indian child in an Indian home.


August 15, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook Updates

From CNN:

Facebook is now letting parents-to-be list their unborn children on their personal profiles.

Among options that include daughter, son, wife and husband, the "Friends and Family" section under "Edit Profile" now allows the option "Expected: Child." Parents can add a due date and the baby's name.

Read more here.


August 15, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Parent Happy Hour

From Mail Online:

Now, ABC's Good Morning America says that mothers are combining social drinking with childrens' playdates, meaning that whilst sippy cups are handed to babies, mothers raise a glass of iced white wine.

And, while men have long taken their children to sports matches - combining childcare with a beer or two - eyebrows are being raised as to the dangers of mothers combining alcohol with minding the children.

Read more here.


August 13, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 12, 2011

On Marriage, Part II

June Carbone and Naomi Cahn authored an article in the Huff Post, commenting on this article in the Economist on marriage that we posted here.  Carbone and Cahn write:

A recent article in the Economist on the "sorry state of marriage in the United States" quoted Census data that show that, for the first time, married couples now make up less than half of all households. The article concludes:

Do not expect the Democratic Party, however, to make an issue of the marriage gap in next year's elections. Unmarried women voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. "You don't want to suggest to someone who isn't married and has children that they should be married," says [Isabel] Sawhill. "That is a denigration of their lifestyle."

 Ms. Sawhill is right that Democrats will not denigrate those on the losing end of the economic changes remaking America. And Democrats shouldn't suggest that single mothers get married for the sake of having a ring on their fingers. Marriage doesn't solve the underlying problems.

Because the "sorry state of marriage" in the United States isn't the declining number of married couple households. Instead, the sad truth is that just like access to health care, stable employment, and higher education, access to marriage has become a class-based affair. The Economist correctly observes that marriage and the two-parent family has become a marker of income level. According to the National Marriage Project, a half century ago, marriage rates did not vary much by education, and college educated women were less likely to marry than those without college degrees. Today, the likelihood of marrying, staying married, and raising children within marriage correlates strongly with education. Indeed, for white college graduates the non-marital birth rate has stayed at 2%; for African American high school dropouts, it's 96%. In between is a steeply slanted line that links family form to education, income, and race.

Read more here.


August 12, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)