Family Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jacobs: "Overcoming the Marital Presumption"

Melanie B. Jacobs has posted her atricle Overcoming the Marital Presumption, 50 Family Court Review (2012) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Parentage law is heavily influenced by the number “two.” The traditional paradigm of one mother and one father, especially a married mother and father, has been a bedrock of Western society. In recent decades, however, the traditional two parent paradigm has started to erode and courts have responded. For example, some courts have held that a child can have two legal parents of the same sex. In other cases, a child has been deemed to have just one legal parent and yet in others, even three legal parents. These cases highlight shifts within the law of parentage that have occurred as the nuclear family has decreased in prominence and as the use of assisted reproductive technologies has changed the ways in which families are created. I have previously advocated for the expansion of legal parentage to persons not traditionally considered a legal parent, such as the lesbian partner of a legal mother. I have also suggested that, in limited circumstances, courts consider conferring legal parentage in more than two adults who are raising a child including recognizing that a child might have two fathers. In my home state of Michigan, the traditional two parent paradigm is firmly entrenched as illustrated, in part, by the state’s strict marital presumption, which does not permit a putative father the ability to challenge the husband’s paternity. About one-fifth of U.S. jurisdictions have a similarly strict marital presumption. In this short essay, I criticize the lingering marital presumption and use the critique to illustrate broader inconsistencies within the law of parentage. I also make some modest suggestions for parentage law reform.

Read more here.


July 31, 2012 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Financial Impact of Divorce

From ABC News:

Joint research led by the Australian Institute of Family Studies has shown divorced women found it difficult to recover financially and the effects last into old age.

Women with dependent children found it particularly difficult to recover financially, due to problems balancing childcare and work.

Institute director Professor Alan Hayes says while women without dependent children financially recover after six years, those with young children find it hard.

Read more here.


July 30, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Marriage Advice

From the Wall Street Journal:

Want great marriage advice? Ask a divorced person.

People who lose the most important relationship of their life tend to spend some time thinking about what went wrong. If they are at all self-reflective, this means they will acknowledge their own mistakes, not just their ex's blunders. And if they want to be lucky in love next time, they'll try to learn from these mistakes.

Research shows that most divorced people identify the same top five regrets—behaviors they believe contributed to their marriage's demise and that they resolve to change next time. "Divorced individuals who step back and say, 'This is what I've done wrong and this is what I will change,' have something powerful to teach others," says Terri Orbuch, a psychologist, research professor at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and author of the new book "Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship." "This is marriage advice learned the hard way," she says.

Read more here.


July 28, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Divorce Lawyers for Men

From the Wall Street Journal:

Divorce lawyers seeking an edge in a crowded legal marketplace have found a niche they say pays off in good times and bad: appealing to men who fear getting a bad deal.

With sports magazines in the waiting room and radio and TV spots that promise to put men first, "divorce for men" law firms position themselves as the best defense a soon-to-be-ex-husband could have in the struggle to keep his kids, his house and his money.

They say their expertise lends firepower in situations where other lawyers might cave, and they coach men on how to avoid certain snares. For instance, if you want to stay in your house, steer clear of confrontations—especially in front of witnesses—that could provide fodder for a restraining order.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

July 27, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (73) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Adoption from China

From China Daily:

Foreign families may be able to adopt orphans or abandoned children who are not under State care, a senior adoption official revealed to China Daily in an exclusive interview...

Children under State care have been eligible for adoption since the early 1980s, said Zhang Shifeng, who heads the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption. Regulations are being drafted to broaden the category for those eligible for adoption to include "children in plight".

The term refers to orphans who cannot receive basic care from close relatives and children whose parents, for whatever reason, were unable to provide due care, Zhang said.

Adoption by foreign families was an effective way to permanently resettle "children in plight", he said.

The Adoption Law, which was issued in 1992 and amended in 1998, stipulates that children aged 14 or younger are qualified for adoption if they have lost parents or were abandoned. They were also eligible if their parents were not in a position to raise them properly.

Read more here.


July 26, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Russia-US Adoption Agreement

From Associated Press:

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's parliament...ratified a long-awaited agreement with the United States regulating the adoption of Russian children by Americans.

The ratification by a 244-96-2 vote in the State Duma came a year after the two countries worked out the pact.

Read more here.


July 25, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guest Post: Amy Zimmerman on How to Pick a Family Law Attorney

The below post has been sent in by Amy Zimmerman:


A family law attorney can perform wide range of services that may be necessary for safeguarding the interests and assets of your family. Whether you are interested in setting up a trust for your estate, a living will, or want to settle a marital dispute, you may have to consider several things before finalizing your family law attorney.

Here we are listing few things that you should ask about during your initial consultation with an attorney to find the most competent legal representative for your family.

* Experience

You must ensure that any attorney you want to work with has the requisite experience in all aspects of the family law. You should enquire whether attorney specializes in family law, and has worked on some cases in the recent past.

You can also ask which cases they are most passionate about, and number of years they have been in this profession. You can also ask for referrals from their past cases they've been involved with.

* Logistics

You must enquire whether attorney will handle your case pesonally, or will it be handed down to any junior in the firm.

In fact, you should try to get a feel whether attorney you are considering will give full attention to your case. Does he or she have necessary time to work on your case? This is really important for the success of your case.

* Communication

You should be clear about the ways to reach your attorney so that you can get quick response. This can help you in making best decisions for your family. Also enquire hour your attorney will keep you updated on the progress of the case. Ask the procedure to communicate with him regarding the case. You should be clear about the systems in place to ensure that you stay updated in a timely way.

* Correspondence

You should request copies of correspondence about your case. In this way, you will stay updated about the progress of your case. You should request your lawyer to send you a copy of all the messages received or sent regarding your case.

* Collaboration

You should ask attorney about his goals regarding your case. Ask whether he wants to work from a collaborative point of view, considering the needs of both the children and parents to handle your case in a better way. Most of the lawyers encourage mediation (wherever possible) in most of the cases.

* Payment

You should ask the payment schedule and terms from the attorney. Will he work on a retainer? What will happen once your retainer is depleted? Will there be any additional hourly rate? Will there be any rate for speaking to paralegals, secretaries, or other staff at the firm?

* Expectations

Finally, you should sum up your consultation with the attorney you are considering hiring by freely discussing your expectations. You should also ask the attorney if he can give you a estimate on the total cost of the fees. Ask what you should expect if you hire them for representing you in the case, and what he would expect from you as his client.

Amy Zimmerman provides a lot of great information to consumers concerning financial service companies online. Her review at Lending Tree scam will reveal to you exactly what you need to know about this service.

July 24, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Divorce Case & Campaign Contributions

From the Washington Post:

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Poker pro Phil Ivey’s divorce case has the Nevada Supreme Court considering whether judges should oversee cases involving people from whom they’ve accepted campaign contributions.

The state high court heard 45 minutes of arguments Tuesday in Carson City on a lawsuit by Ivey’s ex-wife, Luciaetta Ivey, alleging decisions by a Family Court judge who handled the couple’s divorce were tainted by a $5,000 campaign donation.

Justice Michael Douglas noted that Nevada judges are elected, and judges have to raise money to run, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported (

Read more here.


July 24, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Same-Sex Parents

From the New York Times:

Same-sex couples raising children must stand ready to prove to the world they are a family, just one that happens to have two mothers or two fathers.

This constant burden of proof is especially difficult for families like the Muzingos, who live in a state that doesn’t allow them to establish legal ties to each other. Michelle Muzingo was in the delivery room when her wife, Katrina, gave birth to each of their three children, who are now 7, 4 and 1. She cut their umbilical cords and was the first to hold the children, who call her “mommy.” Yet because they live in Ohio, a state that does not allow gay couples to adopt, she is unable to make that title official.

“We are always scanning the circle around us to see what we need to put in place to protect ourselves,” said Katrina, 37.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

July 24, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Child Support Due in Returned Adoptee Case

From CNN:

The American woman who sent her adopted son back to Russia must pay $150,000 in child support, a Tennessee judge reaffirmed Friday.

Torry Hansen's attorney, Ed Yarbrough, told CNN he will file a motion within a few weeks asking the court to modify or terminate the support, which was first ordered earlier this year.

The United States and Russia last year signed an agreement to strengthen procedural safeguards for adoptions following the 2010 incident.

Artyem Saveliev, adopted from a Russian orphanage, was put on a plane back to Moscow. The Shelbyville, Tennessee, family claimed they feared for their safety after a series of violent episodes from the boy, then 7.

Read more here.


July 23, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage & Tax

From the New York Times:

Today the question isn’t whether Thea and Edie could marry — as they finally did in 2007 — but how that marriage should be treated for tax purposes. It is a question that a phalanx of civil rights attorneys is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to answer in a case that they hope will alter federal law, specifically the much-debated Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

When Thea died in 2009, Edie was presented with a gargantuan tax bill — more than $360,000, a figure derived primarily from the vast increase in value of the two homes — an apartment in Manhattan and a small weekend place in the Hamptons — that they’d purchased long ago. In a heterosexual marriage, a surviving spouse can usually shield up to $5 million worth of assets from the estate tax (the limit was $3.5 million when Thea died). But that deduction is not given to married gay couples because DOMA defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman.”

Edie has already won the first round in her fight. A federal court in New York ruled last month that DOMA’s Section 3 — the portion that defines marriage — is unconstitutional and that she should be refunded the estate tax she paid.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

July 22, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Int'l Custody Battle

From CBS Chicago:

A 5-year-old Orland Park boy at the center of an international custody battle was sent to Ireland on Tuesday to live with his father, even though he was born in the U.S. and has lived most of his life here.

Jack Redmond was born in south suburban Blue Island, and has spent all but a few months of his life in the United States. His mother, Mary Redmond, says the Chicago area is all the boy has ever known. His school, his doctor, his dentist, his friends — they’re all here.

Custody battles are messy, this one moreso because Jack’s parents were never married.

A United States federal judge has ordered that Mary Redmond abide by an Irish judge’s ruling and return to Ireland to live and share custody of the boy with his father, Derek Redmond. (Though they have the same last name, they were never married.)

Read more here.


July 21, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Two Marital Classes

From the New York Times:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jessica Schairer has so much in common with her boss, Chris Faulkner, that a visitor to the day care center they run might get them confused.

They are both friendly white women from modest Midwestern backgrounds who left for college with conventional hopes of marriage, motherhood and career. They both have children in elementary school. They pass their days in similar ways: juggling toddlers, coaching teachers and swapping small secrets that mark them as friends. They even got tattoos together. Though Ms. Faulkner, as the boss, earns more money, the difference is a gap, not a chasm.

But a friendship that evokes parity by day becomes a study of inequality at night and a testament to the way family structure deepens class divides. Ms. Faulkner is married and living on two paychecks, while Ms. Schairer is raising her children by herself. That gives the Faulkner family a profound advantage in income and nurturing time, and makes their children statistically more likely to finish college, find good jobs and form stable marriages.

Read more here.  But see here for criticism of this view.

Law Professors June Carbone and Naomi Cahn write on this topic in the Next New Deal:

Ever wonder what the “war on women” is really about? An article in the New York Times, “Two Classes, Divided by 'I Do': For Richer Marriage, for Poorer, Single Motherhood” provides some clues. The article documents the growing class divide in family form. College graduates like Chris and Kevin Faulkner, who were profiled in the article, postpone starting families, produce marriages with lower divorce rates than a generation ago, and reap the rewards in terms of greater time and resources to invest in children. In the meantime, women like Jessica Schairer who do not graduate from college, also profiled in the article, are increasingly raising children on their own. These women often give up on the men in their lives and struggle to balance the demands of low-paying jobs with the attention their children need.

The article presents a compelling portrait of the causes and the effects, but not of the partisan divide over the potential solutions. That divide can be summed up by a struggle over a simple question: are women like the single mother, Jessica Schairer, the victims of our economy or the problem? Those who see them as the problem are setting forth proposals to make their lives (and their children’s lives) worse. Those of us who see Jessica Schairer as a victim of increasing economic inequality recognize that supporting her ability to care for her children is critical to the strength of the country’s next generation. The political war for the future of Jessica Schairer is under way.

Read more here.



July 19, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

(Not) Having It All

By Naomi Cahn and June Carbone in AlterNet:

Helping highly educated women have it all is a hot topic, from Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic article, to Amy Chua’s book about Chinese child-rearing Tiger Mothers to Pamela Druckerman’s ode to French parents. The blogosphere is on fire.

Missing from this discussion is the plight of working-class women to have it at all.  Since the Great Recession, a larger portion of adults worry that they cannot afford children. Doing so often requires a stark choice between jobs essential to the family’s solvency or adequate supervision of the young. The class contrasts are wide and growing starker.

Read more here.


July 19, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pro Baseball Players & Paternity Leave

Jacoba Urist writes on MSNBC:

Like most guys with a very pregnant wife, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dana Eveland had been keeping his cell phone close by for the past week. His wife, Ashley, was due to deliver their second son yesterday, and Eveland was prepared to take advantage of something many players have never had – paternity leave.

Ashley, however, went into labor early, giving birth to little Asher Perry last weekend, and giving the new dad time to fly back for his team’s Tuesday night home game against the Angels. 

Because of baby Asher’s impeccable timing and the Orioles’ schedule, Eveland didn’t need to use the MLB’s allowance of father-child bonding.  Introduced only last season, “the paternity leave list” allows a team to replace a player on its active roster for up to three days after having a child.

Read more here.


July 18, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More on 3 Parents, 1 Child

From the Wall Street Journal:

A California bill allowing children to have more than two parents is moving through the legislature. Its passage could fuel similar legislative efforts in other states to help address expanding definitions of family and parenthood brought on by same-sex marriage and advances in reproductive technologies.

Read more here.


July 17, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Interfaith Parenting

Jacoba Urist writes on MSNBC:

According to numerous sources over the past ten days, the TomKat split was about something many Americans can relate to: the tricky business of raising a child in an inter-faith marriage. A 2007 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life study found that 27 percent of Americans were in interfaith relationship, and more folks are disucssing the particular challenges that come with interfaith families and parenting.

Read more here.


July 16, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Adoptions in MN


ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota leads the country in the number of international adoptions per capita, but tighter regulations have caused those numbers to drop sharply in recent years.

That's left families adrift and forced one of the state's oldest agencies to scale back on the number of adoptions it arranges.

The number of foreign children adopted by Americans has plummeted from 22,991 in 2004 to 9,319 in 2011, according to U.S. State Department statistics. Minnesota has experienced a similar decline. In 2005, the state reported 923 international adoptions. The number has fallen every year since then, reaching a low of 355 adoptions last year.

Read more here.


July 14, 2012 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 13, 2012

In-Laws recently published an article about setting boundaries with in-laws, read it here.


July 13, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

3 Parents, 1 Child in CA?

From ABC:

California, the battleground state for the arguments for and against same-sex marriage, is now considering an unconventional law that would allow children to be legally granted more than two parents. 

The bill -- SB1476 -- would apply equally to men and women, and to homosexual or heterosexual relationships. Proposed by State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, it has passed the Senate and awaits an Assembly vote.

Leno cites the evolving American family, which includes surrogacy arrangements, same-sex marriages and reproductive techniques that involve multiple individuals.

Read more here.


July 12, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)