Family Law Prof Blog

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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter


March 31, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Photo Shoot Spotlighting Adoption of Older Children

From Today Moms:

The face is angelic, the lighting soft and the subject is napping peacefully – just the way a newborn photo shoot should look. It took 13 years, but Latrell Higgins finally has his baby photos.

“Here's my sweet not so little newborn! His name is Latrell and weighs 112 lbs.,” his mom Kelli Higgins proudly announced on Facebook, where the boy’s simple wish created an online sensation.

Higgins and her husband adopted Latrell and his sister Chanya two years ago, welcoming the siblings to their home in Crestview, Fla. The family already had five biological children, with a sixth one on the way, but Higgins felt she had more love to give, especially to kids who would have a harder time finding a home because they were older. In the past decade, more older children have become available for adoption, experts say.

“These children, once they get past a certain age, they don’t find homes and they age out of foster care,” Higgins told

Read more here.


March 30, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 28, 2013


As prenuptial agreements have become more mainstream, people have been surprised to find out they can have effects on long-term care.  A party can decide to exercise or waiver a right to elect against their spouse’s estate, regardless of the fact they are divorced from their first spouse.

Read more here.


March 28, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Divorce Granted

American Kim Lee was granted a divorce from her wealthy, famous Chinese husband Li Yang by a Beijing court on Sunday, February 3, 2013.  The case had kept Chinese citizens rivited for about a year because Ms. Lee publicly accused her husband of domestic violence.  The court also granted her a three-month protection order against her ex-husband "a first in the nation's capital."  Mr. Li, a multimillionaire and founder of "Crazy English," a way of learning English that involves shouting "to overcome inhibitions," stated on television that domestic violence was acceptable in China.  It appears the court did not agree; they expressed this view by granting Ms. Lee a protection order, by acknowledging domestic violence as grounds for divorce, and by ordering Li Yang to pay 50,000 renminbi in compensation for the violence.  Ms. Lee will receive 12 million renminbi and a fixed amount annually until her 3 daughters reach the age of 18.  However, many argue this amount shows the courts failed to uncover Li's true assets, because the sum was too low.

Read more here.


March 27, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Founder of Largest Adoption Agency Passes

Marguerite Bonnema, one of the last living founders of Bethany Christian Services (BCS), America's largest adoption agency, died recently, just days before her 100th birthday.  Bonnema co-founded BCS with Mary VandenBosch in the 1940s with the goal of establishing "a residence for homeless children.

Read more here.


March 26, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Regarding Religious Divorces

A Connecticut court “has affirmed the constitutionality of a Modern Orthodox-sponsored prenuptial agreement meant to protect agunot – Jewish women ‘chained’ by husbands who refuse to grant them a religious divorce.”  Rachel Light may be able to demand more than $100,000 from her soon-to-be-ex husband.  It stipulated Eben Light has to pay $100 for each day he refuses to grant his wife a Jewish divorce, known as a get.  Even though the two have been separated for several years, Mr. Light has not granted Rachel a proper divorce.

Read more.


March 25, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Marriages & Lives of Supreme Court Justices

From the Washington Post:

There's a widow who was a poineer of the "modern marriage" and someone who never wed.  Two divorcees.

There is a husband who married relatively late in life and adopted two children. Another is a prolific procreator, with enough children to field a baseball team and enough grandchildren to form a basketball league.

One is in an interracial marriage, which would have been illegal in his state only 20 years before his wedding.

As the Supreme Court prepares to consider the American tradition of marriage, the justices display a wide range of personal choices reflective of the modern experience.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: SH

March 23, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

FamilyScholars.Org Symposium recently hosted a symposium on What is Parenthood?  Reviewers included Nancy Dowd, Susan Appleton, Laura Rosenbury, Naomi Cahn, June Carbone, and several others.  See details here.


March 23, 2013 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Destination Divorces"

A Fort Wayne, Indiana law firm has come up with a way to make dealing with divorce a lot less stressful.  The Law Offices of Tracey Rosswurm has come up with Destination Divorces, a process that skips court proceedings and heads directly to mediation; soon-to-be ex spouses go on a 3-day resort vacation, with their respective lawyers, and stay in separate bedrooms, to "hammer out the details."

Read more here.


March 23, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Call for Papers


 Theme: International Family Law with Emphasis on the Work of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

The conference marks the 30th anniversary of the entry into force of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (in December 1983) and the publication of Dr. Rhona Schuz's book, "The Hague Child Abduction Convention – A Critical Analysis" (to be published in summer 2013 by Hart Publishing).

Download Conference flyer for further details.


March 22, 2013 in Resources - Child Custody, Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

CALL FOR AUTHORS: Social History of American Families: An Encyclopedia

The statistics tell the story of the American family: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 marked the milestone when blended families or stepfamilies became the most common form of family in America; 2,100 new blended families are formed every day in this country; 41 percent of unmarried couples living together have children living in the home; over 65 percent of Americans are now a stepparent, a stepchild, a stepsibling, a step-grandparent, or touched directly by a stepfamily scenario. Moreover, the Pew Research Center reports interracial marriages are on the rise in America--in 1980, 3 percent of married couples were mixed race; today 1 in 12 couples are interracial couples.

We will produce a carefully balanced academic work that chronicles the social, cultural, economic, and political aspects of American families from the colonial period to the present. Key themes will include families and culture (including mass media), families and religion, families and the economy, families and social issues, families and social stratification and conflict, family structures (including marriage and divorce, gender roles, parenting and children, and mixed and non-modal family forms), and family law and policy. Approximately 600 articles, richly illustrated with historical photographs and video clips in the online edition, will provide the historical context for students to examine political and social debates about the importance of the family and the evolving constructions of the American family. The work will also include a collection of primary source documents demonstrating these themes across time. The signed articles, with cross-references and Further Readings are accompanied by pedagogical
elements, including the Reader's Guide, Chronology of American Families, Resource Guide, Glossary, and thorough index.

This comprehensive project will be published by SAGE Reference and will be marketed to academic and public libraries as a print and digital product available to students via the library's electronic services. The General Editors, who will be reviewing each submission to the project, are Drs. Lawrence Ganong and Marilyn Coleman, University of Missouri.

We are currently making assignment with a deadline of June 7, 2013.

If you are interested in contributing to this cutting-edge reference, it is a unique opportunity to contribute to the contemporary literature, redefining sociological issues in today's terms. SAGE Publications offers an honorarium ranging from SAGE book credits for smaller articles up to a free set of the printed product for contributions totaling 10,000 words or more.

The list of available articles is already prepared, and as a next step we will e-mail you the Article List (Excel file) from which you can select topics that best fit your expertise and interests. Additionally, Style and Submission Guidelines will be provided that detail article specifications.  If you would like to contribute to building a truly outstanding reference with Social History of American Families, please contact me by the e-mail information below. Please provide your CV or a brief summary of your academic/publishing credentials in related disciplines.

Thanks very much.

Joseph K. Golson
Author Manager

March 21, 2013 in Current Affairs, Resources - Divorce, Resources - Research, Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring


March 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NY Estate Issue

A New York Appeals court has ruled a Chinese teen with special needs, Emily Fuqui Svenningsen, is entitled to a portion of her first family's $250 million estate.  The girl was adopted by John and Christine Svenningsen of Westchester, N.Y. in 1996, and John Svenningsen died in May, 1997.  However, on May 6, 1996, the Svenningsens signed an agreement stating they would not transfer or have the girl readopted, and that she would be deemed "a biological child."  The agreement stated Emily had the right to inherit the estate of her adopted parents.  In December 2004, Christine Svenningsen voluntarily surrendered custody of Emily, and she was adopted by Marilyn Campbell, assistant executive director of the Devereux Glenholme School in Washington, Conn. (where Emily was surrendered), and her husband, Fred Cass.  A letter Campbell and Cass received by Ms. Svenningsen's lawyers stated Emily's trusts totaled $842,397, but upon learning the late Mr. Svenningsen's trusts totaled more than $250 million, they sued for a new accounting on Emily's behalf, but Christine argued Emily no longer had rights to the estate since she was readopted.  Westchester County Surrogates Court disagreed, and, despite an effort by Christine and her biological ruling to appeal that decision on February 6, 2013, the Appelate Division's Brooklyn-based Second Department ruled in Emily's favor.

Read more here.


March 19, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Amelia Earhart's Agreement with Husband

From the Hufington Post:

We already knew that Amelia Earhart was ahead of her time, what with her passion for aviation and wearing pants (both unheard of for women in the 1930s). But the doomed pilot's prenuptial agreement, posted to Feministing on Monday, presents a version of marriage that is remarkably forward-thinking, even by today's standards.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: Cynthia Godsoe

March 18, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Partick's Day


March 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Flawed Birth Control

The Kansas City Star:

Shanta Russell had been taking her birth-control pills faithfully for more than a dozen years without a hitch. So when pregnancy tests kept turning up positive in June 2011, she was stunned.

Shock turned to anger three months later when the single Kansas City woman received a recall notice in the mail warning that the pills she had taken may have been placed in the wrong order in their blister packs. The mistake could render the pills ineffective.

That recall in September 2011 by Qualitest Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of the pills Russell took, was followed closely last year by unrelated but eerily similar recalls of birth control pills with faulty packaging from three other manufacturers: Pfizer in January, Glenmark Generics in February and Sandoz in June.

Read more here.


Read more here:

Read more here:

March 16, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 15, 2013

The People Behind the Prop 8 Cases

From the Washington Post:

In BURBANK, Calif. — At the center of the Supreme Court’s preeminent case of the term — the one that holds the potential for redefining marriage in America — are a couple whose chief attribute is how conventional they strive to be.

Jeff Zarrillo, 39, manages the big multiplex movie theater in downtown Burbank, and Paul Katami, 40, is a fitness instructor. They have lived for nine years in a small but handsome house just past the second speed bump on a quiet, suburban street. It is a neighborhood where American flags are plentiful and interest in the school board election appears high.

When the Supreme Court hears the men's challenge to California’s ban on same-sex marriage on March 26, there is a good possibility that their names will not even be mentioned.

What the court is interested in, among other things, is whether the constitutional guarantee of equal protection contained in the 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, requires extending the right of marriage to those who want to wed someone of the same sex.

What Zarrillo and Katami are interested in is getting married.

Read more here.

Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn


March 15, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

50th Anniversary of the Feminine Mystique

The Atlantic does an interview with Gail Collins, author and NYT columnist, about Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique on its 50th Anniversary.

Read it here.


Hat Tip: SH

March 15, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Guest Post by Family Law of Orlando: Controversial Foreign Law Bill Reintroduced in Florida Legislature

The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a foreign law bill proposed by Senator Alan Hays and Rep. Larry Metz. The bill would prevent courts from using religious or foreign law in divorce proceedings, including divorce, child custody, and division of assets.

The bill, SB 58, is controversial and has received disapproval from Islamic and Jewish groups, as well as the ACLU. They claim it infringes on freedom of religion. The bill would allow Florida law to overrule any foreign or religious law pertaining to divorce.

The bill did not pass through the Senate last year, but Hays and Metz are trying again. The bill is especially criticized as being anti-Sharia, a code of laws outline in the Koran. Hays and Metz claim this is not their goal, but the bill’s wording is extremely similar to model legislation posted on the American Public Policy Alliance’s website whose purpose is “to protect American citizens’ constitutional right against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Sharia Law.”

Hays claims that the bill is “not insulting to any religious group,” and that “if your law violates the constitutional right of a Floridian, it has no business being in a Florida court.” However, the executive director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says if the bill passes they are prepared to fight it.

Family Law of Orlando plans to watch the developments on this bill closely. If it passes it could affect divorce proceedings not just for Muslims but people of other faiths as well.

March 14, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Irish Laundries

The Irish government released a report recently admitting state involvement in referring over 2,000 of the 10,000 women committed to the laundries between 1922 and 1996.  The laundries were harsh institutions where unwed mothers, unruly daughters, and other problem girls & women were sent.  While in the laundries, these women and girls were essentially slave labor.  The Irish government has not issued an apology.

Read more here.


March 14, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)