Family Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Yablon-Zug: "Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl: Two and a Half Ways to Destroy Indian Law"

Marcia Anne Yablon-Zug (University of South Carolina School of Law) has posted her article "Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl: Two and a Half Ways to Destroy Indian Law" (forthcoming Michigan Law Review) on SSRN.   Here is the abstract:

On April 16th, the US Supreme court will hear arguments in the case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. This case involves an Indian child whose attempted adoption by a non-Indian couple in South Carolina violated the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Because of this violation, the family court ordered her return to her biological father. The case has received extensive media attention and has resulted in the vilification of ICWA. Nevertheless, the Court’s decision to hear the case was surprising. The issues in the case are straightforward and the lower courts’ decisions were clearly correct. Consequently, the Supreme Court’s interest likely indicates that this case will be used to address broader issues than those delineated in the questions presented. This essay explores the legal issues raised by the Baby Girl case and examine the ways in which the Court is likely to use this decision to redefine current understanding of ICWA and maybe all of Indian law.


April 30, 2013 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Infographic on Child Support

The amount of child support that goes unpaid each year is astonishing even though statistics show it is decreasing each year since 1993.  The number one reason payments are not made is that no explanation for the amount of funds necessary for the child and parent are established in court.

Some child support lawyers focus their attention on establishing the guidelines necessary for a reasonable child support plan.  Those guidelines are usually based on health and education needs as well as the income of the custodial parent.

You can see a great infographic on child support here.


April 29, 2013 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Divorce with Technology

From the Wall Street Journal:

Even the divorce process is getting easier thanks to technology.

Meet Wevorce, a startup coming out of esteemed startup “school” Y Combinator. It’s an online service that breaks the process of getting a divorce into discrete steps that are easily managed without having to get into a messy court battle.

Read more here.


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

Friday, April 26, 2013

Divorce in North Carolina

From the Charlotte Observer:

A pair of Republican lawmakers want to make it harder to get a divorce in North Carolina by making estranged couples wait longer and go to counseling.

The Healthy Marriage Act would extend to two years the current one-year waiting period in order for a divorce to be finalized. During that time, the couple would have to complete courses on improving their communications skills and learning better conflict resolution techniques.

Couples who have children would have to take at least a four-hour class on the effect of divorce on children.

Read more here.


Read more here:

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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

For Sale

From the New York Times:

Lucky are the few who move out of their houses simply because they have tired of the view or suddenly possess the means to trade up. More often, it is a change in life circumstances that pushes people out into the housing market, something like a new job, a new husband or a new baby.

And lurking with quiet devastation behind many “for sale” signs is the big, sad shift that almost always requires that somebody move out: divorce.

Read more here.


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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


People in support of family-friendly workplace policies are continuing to speak out about the shortcomings of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), “the only federally mandated policy covering families in the workplace.”  For instance, the FMLA only applies to businesses employing 50 or more people.  However, many employers feel the FMLA does not need to go any further because almost 60% of U. S. workers are covered by the policy, and the provisions have been used in excess of 100 million times to help workers manage newborn care and family health crises, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.  Opponents of the proposed changes argue extending coverage to small businesses would do more harm than good, imposing heavy financial burdens on “mom-and-pop” businesses.  Per the Labor Department, about 35% of national employers offer paid maternity leave for all or most employees and about 30% offer paid paternity leave for all or most employees.  However, amongst large corporations and law firms that offer paid maternity and paternity leaves as perks to help obtain top talent, it is important to note “employers tend not to offer the paid leave to lower-skilled workers, surveys show.”

Read more here.


April 24, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Divorce on Finances

This article here outlines five (sometimes unexpected) ways in which divorce can impact your finances:  legal expenses, childcare expense(s), taxes, retirement planning, and insurance. 


April 24, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kids of Divorced Parents Smoke More

From the Atlantic:

Out of 19,000 U.S adults, the odds of having smoked 100 or more cigarettes increased by 48 and 39 percent for sons and daughters, respectively, of separated or divorced parents.

Read more here.


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

Monday, April 22, 2013

Same-Sex Divorce

From Forbes:

Among the issues raised by the gay marriage debate is tax equality. Yet the right to file joint tax returns is nothing compared to what happens when a relationship dissolves. When a married couple splits, there’s no limit on the money or property the two can transfer tax-free between them.

Read more here.


April 22, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Adult Adoption Nullified

From USA Today:

A Florida appeals court has nullified a polo mogul's adoption of his 42-year-old girlfriend in an apparent bid to tap his children's trust fund and shield his assets from the family of a student he killed in a drunken crash.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that John Bailey Goodman, founder of the International Polo Club in Palm Beach, had not notified his two children, their mother, their guardian or the parents of 23-year-old Scott Wilson, who had sued him for wrongful death over the February 2010 crash and were seeking damages.

Read more here.


April 20, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Biggest Divorce Settlement in History?

From Forbes:

Fast forward to 2013, when a prenuptial agreement is again at the center of a very public billionaire divorce. This time, the jilted wife in question could get, well, “everything”, or near enough: the biggest settlement in history, worth over $5 billion.

Read more here.


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

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Justice Sotomayor Discusses Marriage and Divorce

From the Huffington Post:

After graduating from Princeton University, Sonia Sotomayor married her high school sweetheart, Kevin Noonan. Seven years later, the couple divorced. In this clip from her sit-down with Oprah for "Oprah's Next Chapter," Supreme Court justice Sotomayor opens up about her divorce, the price of success and what life is like for those on the nation's highest court.

Read more and see the video here.


April 18, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Family Law TV Shows

The Huffington Post reports that Bravo has new series coming on the newlywed year and divorce.

Read more here.


April 17, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stroke after Donating Eggs

From the National Post:

A young Florida woman who suffered a stroke after donating her eggs to a Canadian couple is suing a Toronto fertility doctor and a U.S. egg donor agency for alleged negligence.

Kylee Gilman, 24, says that within hours of having 45 eggs removed from her ovaries at the CReATe clinic, in Toronto, she felt nauseous and began vomiting. The following day, Nov. 12, 2011, she suffered a stroke.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: NC

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

Monday, April 15, 2013

Nanny Tax

From Jacoba Urist, writing for the New York Times:

If you want to hear a pin drop, ask a room of parents whether they report employment taxes for their baby sitter or nanny. My (admittedly unscientific) conclusion, drawn from four years of Manhattan motherhood, is that many families do not. In a 2011 discussion of nanny compensation on Park Slope Parents, most families reported paying their caregivers completely off the books, while very few said they paid the tax. Susan Fox, founder of Park Slope Parents, suspects the off-the-books number among her readers is well over half.

Read more here.


April 15, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Guest Post by King: Incarcerated Parents in Department of Social Services Court

By Brian King, King Law Offices

In our years working with the Department of Social Services, both as an attorney for the Department and representing parents, we have often had respondent parents whom have found themselves incarcerated.

In these types of cases, the situation is dire but not impossible. The key is to make reasonable arrangements for child care while in prison. A parent in this situation must make reasonable efforts while incarcerated to protect their constitutionally protected status as a parent.

In In re P.M., 169 N.C.App. 423, 427, 610 S.E.2d 403, 406 (2005), the Court held, “N.C. Gen.Stat. § 7B–101(9) (2009) defines a “[d]ependent juvenile” as “[a] juvenile in need of assistance or placement because the juvenile has no parent, guardian, or custodian responsible for the juvenile's care or supervision or whose parent, guardian, or custodian is unable to provide for the care or supervision and lacks an appropriate alternative child care arrangement.” In determining whether a juvenile is dependent, the trial court “must address both (1) the parent's ability to provide care or supervision, and (2) the availability to the parent of alternative child care arrangements.”

In In re L.H., 708 S.E.2d 191, (N.C.App., 2011), the Court held, “Respondent father does not dispute that he is unable to parent, but contends that the trial court erred in finding that DSS, and not he, placed Luke with the maternal grandmother. Respondent father further argues that, in any event, the trial court's finding that “neither parent has offered an alternative placement for the juvenile” is not sufficient to establish that he lacks an appropriate alternative child care arrangement. According to respondent father, whether DSS arranged the placement of Luke with his maternal grandmother “should not have a bearing on whether there was an appropriate, alternative child care arrangement.”

In re P.L.P., 618 S.E.2d 241 (NC, 2005) is the leading case on incarcerated parents. In that case, the court held that "Incarceration, standing alone, is neither a sword nor a shield in a termination of parental rights decision." In re Yocum, 158 N.C.App. 198, 207-08, 580 S.E.2d 399, 405 (2003). "The key to a valid termination of parental rights on neglect grounds where a prior adjudication of neglect is considered is that the court must make an independent determination of whether neglect authorizing the termination of parental rights existed at the time of the hearing." In re McDonald, 72 N.C.App. 234, 241, 324 S.E.2d 847, 851 (1984). Where "a child has not been in the custody of the parent for a significant period of time prior to the termination hearing, the trial court must employ a different kind of analysis to determine whether the evidence supports a finding of neglect[,] . . . because requiring the petitioner in such circumstances to show that the child is currently neglected by the parent would make termination of parental rights impossible." In re Pierce, 146 N.C.App. 641, 651, 554 S.E.2d 25, 31 (2001). "The determinative factors must be the best interests of the child and the fitness of the parent to care for the child at the time of the termination proceeding." In re Ballard, 311 N.C. 708, 715, 319 S.E.2d 227, 232 (1984).

Essentially, the court has made it clear that the respondent parent who is incarcerated in the State of North Carolina can protect themselves, even in times where they are incarcerated. A parent should (and should be encouraged) to attend parenting classes while in the Department of Corrections, send letters to the children, and most importantly make arrangements for the care of the children. The arrangements for care must be made and present even if the child is in foster care.

Having an attorney that understands this important case law and argument is vital, as the Department of Social Services will often move to terminate the rights of parents in this situation. While difficult, a parent can prevail even in these circumstances.


April 13, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 12, 2013

“Baby Veronica” Forum

An announcement from Professor Cynthia Godsoe of Brooklyn Law School:

We are excited to let you know about an online forum about the ICWA “Baby Veronica” case, before the Supreme Court next Tuesday.  It can be found here:

The forum is a discussion among experts on family law, Indian law and adoption including Barbara Atwood; Elizabeth Bartholet;  James Dwyer; Joan Hollinger; Kevin Noble Maillard; Solangel Maldonado; Barbara Bennett Woodhouse.

We hope you enjoy it, and feel free to add a comment (at the bottom). Also, check in again on Tuesday for more discussion.

April 12, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Divorce Causes

From the Huffington Post:

A growing number of Brits are citing alcohol as a contributing factor in their divorces -- and it's the wives who have the drinking problem in the majority of the cases, according to one divorce attorney.

Read more here.


April 12, 2013 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

CA Litigation

Litigants in the family law context in California are challenging the Vexatious Litigant Statute (VLS).  Read the federal court complaint here.


April 11, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Cohabitation Law in British Columbia

From CTV News:

Cohabitating couples in British Columbia should start thinking about splitting debt and property and potentially paying out spousal support as the province rolls out new family laws.

The updated legislation, which takes effect Monday, erases the line between marriage and common law partnerships in B.C.

Read more here.

April 11, 2013 in Cohabitation (live-ins) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)