Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, October 31, 2011




October 31, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nevada Receives Adoption Recognition

From the Nevada Appeal:

The federal Department of Health and Human Services has doubled its adoption program grant to Nevada's Division of Child and Family Services as a reward for increasing the number of children adopted from foster care.

Where last year's award was less than $500,000, this year's total is $995,455 based on 652 finalized adoptions statewide.

DCFS Administrator Diane Comeaux said the money will help finalize adoptions of older youths and the medically fragile.

Under the federal rules, states get $4,000 for every child adopted over and above their best year's total, plus $8,000 for every child aged 9 and older and $4,000 for every special-needs child adopted.

Read more here.


October 29, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Divorced Couples Often Willing to Reconcile


There is a surprising level of interest in reconciliation among couples with children involved in the divorce process, something no research had examined before, according to a new study done by University of Minnesota researcher Bill Doherty in collaboration with Hennepin County District Court Judge Bruce Peterson.

The study, "Interest in Marital Reconciliation Among Divorcing Parents," was published recently in Family Court Review, the leading academic journal for professionals who work in family courts. This is the first time data has been gathered on divorcing parents' interest in reconciliation. In the study, nearly 2,500 divorcing parents were surveyed about reconciliation after taking a required parenting class.

About one of four individual parents indicated some belief that their marriage could still be saved with hard work, and about one in nine couples believed both partners did, says Doherty, family social science professor in the university's College of Education and Human Development.

Read more here.



October 28, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Adoption Parties

From the Guardian:

'Adoption parties' went out of favour in the UK in the 1980s. Critics said they were 'cattle markets' for kids, and new family-finding methods were tried. But as figures this week reveal a drop in placements, it could be time for a rethink...

Next week, somewhere in the Midlands, around 30 children and 30 adults will meet up for a fun afternoon of circus skills, craft activities and soft play. To the casual onlooker, it will probably look like any other kids' party. There will be invitations, balloons and party bags, lots of laughter and running around. But if you were to take a closer look, you might begin to sense that this was no ordinary children's party.

This is in fact an "adoption party", a pilot project in the UK for children in care for whom all other family-finding methods have failed. The adults are either approved adopters or well into the process of approval, while the children all desperately need adopting. Neither the adults nor the children have met before, but the hope is that once they do, connections might be made.

These parties are controversial. They have been described by critics as "cattle markets" and "shopping expeditions". But they have formed part of the adoption fabric in the US for decades and in some states the matches made at these events represent almost half of all placements.

Read more here.



October 27, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Only 60 Babies Adopted in England Last Year

Unbelievable news from the Independent:

Only 60 babies were adopted in England last year – startling evidence of how Britain's system for adopting children is grinding to a halt despite record numbers being taken into care.

Thousands of children are being held in limbo in care homes, secure units and temporary fostering because so few adoptions are being signed off by social workers. Their guidance has been to try to keep families together, which has also led to some children being left with negligent or abusive birth parents for too long.

The number of adoptions of babies under the age of one has fallen from 150 in 2007 – and around 4,000 in 1976. Prospects for adopted babies are considered strong, as they have fewer difficulties bonding with new parents.

Read more here.



October 26, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Swedish Paternity Leave

From the New York Times:

In Sweden, men pushing strollers — sometimes in twos or threes — have become part of the landscape. Baby changing stations are typically found in both men's and women's restrooms. Brawny men with Viking tattoos can be overheard discussing their "pappaledighet," Swedish for daddy leave, over a pint in the pub.

Parents share 480 days of paid parental leave for each child, courtesy of the government. The benefits amount to 80 percent of the stay-at-home parent's salary for the first 390 days, but no more than 910 kronor ($135) a day. Thereafter the amount drops to 180 kronor ($30) a day for the remaining period.

Mothers are still taking more leave than fathers, but things are changing. In 2000, Swedish men took out only 12.4 percent of the parental leave; by last year their share had nearly doubled to 23.1 percent, according to government statistics.

Though there is widespread agreement that the gap should close even more, Swedes so far have resisted calls by women's rights activists for a compulsory 50-50 split.

Read more here.



October 25, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Invitation / Call For Papers: Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network

Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network

Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, June 5-8, 2011

Invitation and Call for Papers

Dear friends and colleagues,

As many of you know, the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network (CRN) is a newly-constituted group that seeks to bring together scholars across a range of fields who are interested in feminist legal theory. At our inaugural get-together at the Law and Society Association (LSA) meeting this past June, we decided to organize two events for the coming year.  The first will be in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the AALS annual meeting in January 2012. We are writing to give you details about the second, which will take place in Honolulu, Hawaii, in conjunction with the LSA annual meeting, June 5-8, 2012.

We hope to organize a number of panels for this year’s LSA meeting; we would like to invite you to submit paper proposals for these panels. There is no single topic or theme to which paper submissions must conform: they should simply relate to feminist legal theory in some shape or form. We particularly welcome proposals which would permit us to collaborate with other CRNs, which have organized around topics such as Critical Research on Race and the Law, or Gender, Sexuality and the Law. Also, because the LSA meeting attracts scholars from other disciplines, we welcome multidisciplinary proposals.  Our goal in organizing these panels is to stimulate focused discussion on papers on which scholars are currently working. Thus, while proposals may reference work which is well on the way to publication, we are particularly eager to solicit proposals for works-in-progress which are at an earlier stage, and which will benefit from the discussion that the panels will provide. 

Our panels will utilize the LSA format, which requires four papers; but we will continue the approach that worked so well last June, when each paper had an assigned commentator who had read the paper closely and began the discussion. A committee of the CRN will assign individual papers to panels based on subject and then will ask CRN members to volunteer to serve as chairs of each panel.  The chair will develop a 100-250 word description for the session and submit the session proposal to LSA before the upcoming December 6 deadline, so that each panelist can submit his or her proposal, using the panel number assigned.  Chairs will also be responsible for recruiting commentators but may wait to do so until panels have been scheduled later this winter, so as to minimize conflict with paper presentations that commentators themselves may be doing at the meeting.

If you would like to submit a paper for one of the CRN panels, please do so by using the Feminist Legal Theory CRN TWEN page. TWEN is an online resource administered by Westlaw. If you haven’t yet registered for the TWEN page, signing up is easy. Just sign onto Westlaw, hit the tab on the top for “TWEN,” then click “Add Course,” and choose the “Feminist Legal Theory” CRN from the drop-down list of National TWEN Courses. Or, if you have a Westlaw OnePass as a faculty member, you can enter the Easy Course Access link below:

Easy Course Access Link:

If you enter through the Easy Course Access Link above, you will immediately see a link to the Feminist Legal Theory CRN TWEN page, and you should click on it.

If you aren’t enrolled on the TWEN page and you don't have a Westlaw password, please email Kathy Abrams ( or Susan Appleton ( and we'll enroll you directly. 

Once you arrive at the Feminist Legal Theory CRN TWEN page, by either of the above routes, look to the left hand margin for a tab to “June 2012 Law and Society – Sign-Ups and Paper Proposals.” When you click on it, you will see two threads under “topics.” One thread will permit you to post a paper proposal; the other will permit you to sign up as a commentator or panel chair. Just click on the thread you want to post to; you will then get a new screen that locates you within that thread: hit “reply” to post a reply to it. If you post a paper proposal, you should include your name, a title, and an abstract of 400-500 words.

Please submit all proposals for paper presentations by November 14, 2011. This will permit us to organize panels and submit them prior to the LSA’s deadline of December 6, 2011. We are aiming roughly for 6 to 8 sessions. If we receive too many proposals and cannot accept all for the CRN, we will notify you by November 28, 2011, so that you can submit an independent proposal to LSA. In addition, if you would like to serve as a chair or a commentator for one of our panels, or if you are already planning a LSA session with four panelists (and papers) that you would like to see included in the Feminist Legal Theory CRN, please let Kathy or Susan know.

In addition to these panels, we may try to utilize a more flexible format that the LSA also provides: the roundtable discussion. Roundtables are discussions that are not organized around papers, but rather invite several speakers to have an exchange focused on a specific topic of interest to the group (in this case, of interest to the CRN). If you have an idea relating to feminist legal theory that you think would work well in this format, please let Kathy or Susan know, as well.

Those of us who were present at last year’s meeting were delighted by the papers presented and the opportunity to connect with others in doing work on feminism and gender. We look forward to another terrific meeting in Hawaii.

Kathy Abrams

Susan Appleton

Beth Burkstrand-Reid

Donna Coker

Leigh Goodmark

Jennifer Koshan

Nancy Polikoff



October 24, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Antokolskaia: "Harmonisation of Substantive Family Law in Europe: Myths and Reality"

Masha Antokolskaia (VY Univ. Amsterdam) has posted "Harmonisation of Substantive Family Law in Europe:  Myths and Realities" (22 Child and Family L. Q. 397 (2010) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Since the Commission on European Family Law was established in 2001, harmonisation of substantive family law in Europe has been the subject of heated debate. The impossibility and undesirability of harmonising family law was long taken for granted. This scepticism was rooted in what was referred to as the ‘cultural constraints argument’, which states that differences between national family laws are embedded in unique and cherished national cultural heritages, that this cultural and historical diversity is unbridgeable and that, therefore, family laws do not converge spontaneously and cannot be harmonised deliberately. Only since the late 1990s has the attitude towards harmonisation of family law gradually become more positive. This article addresses three issues. First, the merits of the basic assumptions of the cultural constraints argument - the embedment of family law in a unique, homogeneous and unchangeable national culture - will be analysed on the basis of the development offamily law in Europe since the Enlightenment. Secondly, attention will be devoted to existing European family law - an incoherent body of binding rules developed ad hoc through international conventions, EU legislation and European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and European Court of Justice (ECJ) case law. Last but not least, the harmonisation activities of the CEFL aimed at developing a more coherent body of European family law will be discussed using the Principles on Divorce as an example. In conclusion some speculations regarding the future outlook for harmonisation of family law in Europe will be made.


October 24, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Guest Post by Carol Montrose: Annulment Myths Debunked

When most people decide that the problems in their marriage are no longer fixable, that one or both parties have done something the other can’t live with, or that they have simply fallen out of love or outgrown each other, they may head straight for divorce court.  However, there are other ways to end a marriage, and annulment could be a good option for a lot of couples.  The problem is that most people don’t really understand annulment, how it works, and why it is different from divorce proceedings.  In fact, people seem to harbor a lot of myths when it comes to annulment.  But if more people knew how annulments worked, they might not have to go through some of the difficulties associated with divorce.  So here are just a few annulment myths debunked.

  1. Annulment is only for Catholics.  Although the Catholic Church does have a form of annulment that is totally separate from a legal divorce (in that it allows for remarriage within the church), there is also a legal form of annulment that can be obtained by anyone as an alternative to divorce or legal separation.  You’ll need to check the laws in your particular state to see if you qualify for this type of marriage dissolution, but it could provide the solution you’re looking for when you return to single status.
  2. It’s the same as divorce.  Although both divorce and annulment will effectively end your marriage, there are some major differences between the two.  For starters, an annulment can return you to the pre-marriage state of being legally single (rather than divorced).  In short, it voids your marriage as if it had never happened.  Further, you must meet specific criteria in order to qualify for annulment.  For example, annulment may be obtained if one or both parties were incapable of consenting to the marriage (due to age, drunkenness, etc.), if the consent was obtained by fraud, if the parties are related, or if one party is already married (and the spouse is still living).  Of course, there are other instances that make a couple eligible for annulment, but these are just a few that may apply.
  3. It’s too expensive.  Annulments are not without their costs, but the expense is similar to divorce in most cases.  You will likely pay between $500 and $1,000 for an annulment, what with court costs, legal fees, and so on.  While an amicable divorce could in fact be less expensive, you’re going to pay the same or even more once attorneys get involved, especially if one party is fighting the divorce.  Because the qualifications for annulment are so specific, it will likely require less time and expense than a messy divorce.
  4. It takes too long.  In general, an annulment takes about six months to complete, although yours may take more or less time depending on your case, the court schedule, etc.  Interestingly, some states require a period of separation before a petition on divorce can be heard once it has been filed (up to a year in some cases).  Annulments, on the other hand, can begin processing as soon as the paperwork is filed with the court.
  5. You can only get one right after marriage.  Most people are convinced that annulments can only be obtained within six months or a year of marriage.  This is not necessarily true.  Although some states do have time limits on annulment proceedings, they tend to have more to do with how long a spouse has known about the condition that is causing him or her to seek annulment.  In most cases, an annulment can be obtained at any time in the marriage as long as certain criteria are met.

Carol Montrose is a contributing writer for the premier DC accident lawyer, Price Benowitz LLP. The firm has offices in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, and New York and handles DUI, criminal, immigration, personal injury, and disability cases.


October 24, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

DiFonzo: "How Marriage Became Optional: Cohabitation, Gender, and the Emerging Functional Norms"

J. Herbie DiFonzo (Hofstra) has posted "How Marriage Became Optional:  Cohabitation, Gender, and the Emerging Functional Norms" (8 Rutgers J. L. & Pub. Policy) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:    

In 1960, two-thirds (68%) of all Americans in their twenties were married. But by 2008, just over one-quarter of twenty-somethings (26%) were wed. According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, married-couple family households constituted only 49.7% of all households in 2009. The Census Bureau reported in 2009 that 96.6 million Americans eighteen and older were unmarried, a group comprising 43% of all U.S. residents eighteen and older. Children’s living arrangements have also undergone substantial change. In the past generation, the percentage of children in the United States who live with two married parents has markedly declined. Although our culture is still ambivalent about families not based on genetic ties, social acceptance of a wider range of family forms has increased. This multiplicity of family structures means that marriage has become an optional arrangement for creating a family. How did this happen? And where is the American family headed, in both cultural and legal terms? This Article sketches out a framework for analysis of this central social question, and argues that family law is moving in the direction of adopting functional norms for determining family composition and adjudicating family disputes.


October 23, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Emergency Weddings

The NYT recently ran an interesting essay written by a judge about emergency weddings:

But Cheryl begged; she practically yanked my bleeding heart right out of my chest. She explained that she was a hospice social worker for Thomas, 77, who had recently been discharged from the medical center hospice unit so he could die at home. He was conscious and lucid but likely to die at any moment. He could no longer talk and communicated entirely though hand squeezes.

His dying wish was to marry Donna, his life partner of 38 years. She was 57. They had talked about marriage over the years but had never gotten around to a wedding. They had even gone so far as to fill out the application from the downtown wedding license center.

Was this yet another case of people irresponsibly leaving things until the last minute? Probably. But I realized in the moment it didn’t matter. People do stupid, human things. I could make this one right.

Read more here.


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

Friday, October 21, 2011

Heneghan: "Relocation Cases - the Rhetoric and the Reality of a Child's Best Interests - a View from the Bottom of the World"

Mark Heneghan (Univ. of Otago) has posted "Relocation Cases - the Rhetoric and the Reality of a Child's Best Interests - a View from the Bottom of the World" (23 Child and Family Law Quarterly 155 (2011)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Relocation cases have become a very significant aspect of family law. This article examines the difficulties in deciding (and predicting the outcomes of) national and international relocation cases. The article questions the usefulness of using checklists of non-prioritised, non-exhaustive factors to decide relocation cases based on the uncertainty such general checklists create for litigants and their children. This inevitably leads to increased litigation and appeals until the litigant finds a judge who will see the facts the litigant’s way.

The article seeks to find a more principled way to decide relocation cases that would enable litigants to be given a realistic assessment of their likelihood of success at the outset. The article examines social science research for potential answers, but finds that there is no clear social science basis to support a policy either for or against relocation. The article discusses different theoretical frameworks, and argues that power between parents in relation to relocation should be allocated on the basis of actual responsibility for children. The article ultimately concludes by suggesting a prioritised ‘discipline’ for the values that need to be considered in relocation disputes. This discipline attempts to provide a visible framework for litigants, lawyers and judges to follow, which is designed to enhance consistency and predictability in decision making, and to give real meaning to the welfare principle.



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

Divorce Rate Lowest in...NJ


A U.S. Census report shows the Northeast, and New Jersey in particular, has the lowest divorce rates in America, trailed closely by New York.


"People assume that people in the Northeast divorce easily because they’re less religious, but that’s not the case," said Deborah Carr, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University. New Jerseyans may also stick together because here, well, it’s just too expensive to break up.

In the Northeast, 7.2 per 1,000 men and 7.5 per 1,000 women got divorced. In the South, the rates were 10.2 for men and 11.1 for women.

New Jersey’s rates — the lowest — were 6.1 for men and 6 for women, according to the 2009 American Community Survey, which released the data last month.

Read more here.


October 21, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On the Need for the Regulation of Fertility Market


"Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Naomi Cahn, law professor at George Washington University Law School and author of "Test Tube Families: Why the Fertility Market Needs Legal Regulation," and Bloomberg Law's Jason Brocks talk about federal and state regulation of sperm donations and the welfare of donor-conceived children.  They speak with Spencer Mazyck on a Bloomberg Law podcast."


October 19, 2011 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Creatively Procreative

From Wonkblog:

Science can’t write a catchy melody for you, but it can advise you to include more references to sex in your songs if you want to reach the top of the charts. This advice comes from a 2011 study in Evolutionary Psychology by Dawn Hobbs and Gordon Gallup, who found that songs that made it onto the Billboard Top Ten in 2009 were far more likely to include references to sex (or, in the dry academic parlance of our times, “reproductive messages”) than songs that didn’t.

Read more and see a related chart here.


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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Saving the Post Office and Marriages at the Same Time

From the Telegraph:

China's post office has come up with an inventive way of stemming the country's rising divorce rates - offering newly-weds the chance to send sealed love letters to each other to be delivered seven years on from their big day.

Read more here.



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

Monday, October 17, 2011

Power & Infidelity

A new study shows that power increases marital infidelity for both genders.  Read it here.


October 17, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Dowd's Justice for Kids

NYU Press has published a new book edited by Nancy E. Dowd, entitled Justice for Kids. From the press release:

Children and youth become involved with the juvenile justice system at a significant rate. While some children move just as quickly out of the system and go on to live productive lives as adults, other children become enmeshed in the system, developing deeper problems and or transferring into the adult criminal justice system. Justice for Kids is a volume of work by leading academics and activists that focuses on ways to intervene at the earliest possible point to rehabilitate and redirect—to keep kids out of the system—rather than to punish and drive kids deeper.

Justice for Kids presents a compelling argument for rethinking and restructuring the juvenile justice system as we know it. This unique collection explores the system’s fault lines with respect to all children, and focuses in particular on issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation that skew the system. Most importantly, it provides specific program initiatives that offer alternatives to our thinking about prevention and deterrence, with an ultimate focus on keeping kids out of the system altogether. 

Here is an order form and coupon: Download Dowd_Justice_Kids.


October 17, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Too Old to Parent

From Mail Online:

An Italian court has ordered a baby girl to be taken into care after ruling her parents were too old.

Parents Luigi De Ambrosis, 70, and his wife Gabriella 57, had the child taken off them as a judge in Italy ruled there was every possibility the children would be orphaned at a young age.

The 18-month-old baby was conceived through artificial insemination after the couple were treated at an overseas clinic.

Read more here.


October 15, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)