Family Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Joslin: Windsor, Federalism, and Family Equality

Courtney G. Joslin (U.C. Davis School of Law) has posted "Windsor, Federalism, and Family Equality", 113 Col. L. Rev. Sidebar (2013) on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Kennedy, the Court held in Windsor v. United States that section 3 of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Advocates had attacked section 3 on two primary grounds. The principal argument leveled at section 3 was that it violated principles of equal protection by denying one class of married spouses — lesbian and gay spouses — all federal marital benefits. 

Section 3 was also attacked on a number of federalism-based grounds. Some advocates pushed a particularly strong federalism variant, arguing that DOMA was unconstitutional because Congress lacked the authority to define or determine family status. I call this the categorical family status federalism argument. Others endorsed a more moderated claim. Under this theory, the fact that a law — here section 3 of DOMA — deviated from the historic allocation of power as between the federal government and the states was simply a basis for applying a more careful level of equal protection scrutiny. Under this theory, the federalism-based concerns were not an independent basis for striking down the law. 

This Essay argues that civil rights advocates dodged a bullet when the Windsor Court declined to embrace the categorical family status federalism theory. While its acceptance would have brought along the short-term gain of providing a basis for invalidating DOMA, it also would have curtailed the ability of federal officials to protect same-sex couples and other families.


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

Happy Halloween



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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Surprise Wedding

From Huffington Post:

When Amanda Roman started dreaming up her perfect wedding on Pinterest, she didn't realize that her boyfriend, Ryan Leak, was paying such close attention.

Leak overheard Roman tell a friend how cool it would be to get engaged and married in the same day. So with that tidbit of information and access to her wedding Pinterest board, he set out to make her dream come true.

Read more here.


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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Reasons for Divorce

From the Guardian:

Warring couples are only half as likely to cite adultery as the cause of a marriage breakdown than they were 40 years ago, but claims of unreasonable behaviour have rocketed, analysis of more than 5m divorce cases has shown.

Read more here.


October 29, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 28, 2013


From Jacoba Urist, writing for Today:

Traditionally, the role of a godparent has religious overtones. In many denominations of Christianity, a godmother or godfather is someone who sponsors a child’s official entrance into the church. For nonsectarian families, a godparent has historically been an individual chosen by parents to take an active interest in a child’s personal or character development.

But these days, more Americans may be eschewing the godparent tradition, opting only for a legal guardian in the event that something happens to both parents — over that “special aunt or uncle” who plays a symbolic role in a child’s upbringing. 

Read more here.


October 28, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pitching in for Engagement Ring

From Huffington Post:

Many modern brides have no problem bucking tradition -- whether it means skipping the white dress, keeping their last name after marriage, or having someone other than their dad (or no one at all!) walk them down the aisle.

And lately, we've been hearing about a lot of women who are deciding to "go Dutch" and split the cost of an engagement ring with their spouse-to-be.

Read more here.


October 26, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 25, 2013

CEOs' Divorce

From International Business Times:

CEOs must get real about their romantic relationships and the impacts of divorce, according to a Stanford Graduate School of Business study linking CEO divorces, executive pay and early retirement.

Published on Tuesday, the report -- entitled “Separation Anxiety: The Impact of CEO Divorce on Shareholders” -- warned shareholders that divorces may have drastic, regular and predictable impact.

Stock values may fall sharply on speculation about a CEO’s spouse obtaining majority control through stock transfers, for example.

Shares fell 2.9 percent on such speculation in the divorce of Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources Inc. (NYSE:CLR) in March 2013, even after the company reassured investors in a news release that the divorce wouldn’t materially impact the business.

Read more here.


October 25, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New Jersey judge denies state's motion to halt same-sex marriages

From the Jurist:

A New Jersey judge denied the state's motion to stay her September 27 order to begin permitting same-sex couples to enter civil marriages on October 21. On October 1, the state requested that the court stay its order until the "ultimate arbiter of substantial constitutional issues of first impression," the Supreme Court, renders its decision. In her statement of reasons, Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson concluded:

Enforcing the Order will not cause the State to suffer irreparable harm, the State does not have a likelihood of succeeding on appeal, and balancing the equities heavily favors rejecting the motion for a stay. Plaintiffs would suffer many hardships of constitutional magnitude if the stay were to be issued, but the State has not demonstrated how it would suffer in any meaningful way if the Order is enforced.

Click here for the full text of the article.


October 24, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Grounds for Divorce in India

From the Times of India:

The failure of a wife to take job transfer to her husband's city, even if promised before marriage, does not constitute 'cruelty' for which divorce can be sought, the Bombay high court has ruled.

Read more here.


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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Children's Duty to Support Aging Parents?

From the Washington Post:

As the daughter-in-law rolls open the rusted doors to her garage, light spills onto a small figure on a straw mattress. A curious face peers out.

It’s the face of Kuang Shiying’s 94-year-old mother-in-law — better known as the little old lady who sued her own children for not taking care of her.

The drama playing out inside this house reflects a wider and increasingly urgent dilemma. The world’s population is aging fast, due to longer life spans and lower birth rates, and there will soon be more old people than young for the first time in history. This has left families and governments struggling to decide: Who is responsible for the care of the elderly?

A few countries, such as India, Singapore, France and Ukraine, now require adult children to financially support their parents. Twenty-nine U.S. states have similar laws, though they are rarely enforced because the government provides aid.

For the full text of the article, click here.


October 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

LaVigne & Van Rybroek: "'He Got in My Face so I Shot Him': How Defendants' Language Impairments Impair Attorney-Client Relationships"

Michele LaVigne (University of Wisconsin Law School) & Gregory Van Rybroek (Mendota Mental Health Institute) have posted on SSRN "'He Got in My Face so I Shot Him': How Defendants' Language Impairments Impair Attorney-Client Relationships," 17 CUNY Law Review (2014).  Here is the abstract:

Language impairments -- deficits in language and the ability to use it -- occur at starkly elevated rates among adolescents and adults charged with and convicted of crimes. These impairments have serious ramifications for the quality of justice. In this article, we focus specifically on the effects of a client's language impairment on the attorney-client relationship, the constitutional realm that suffers most when a client lacks essential communication skills. The effects of language impairment can be seen in a client's ability to work with a lawyer in the first place, tell a story, comprehend legal information, and make a rational and informed decision. This article shows how these effects play themselves out within the attorney-client relationship, and the impact on the lawyer's ability to meet her constitutional and ethical obligations. We also propose concrete steps for improving the quality of communication within the attorney-client relationship. While attorneys will obviously shoulder much of the responsibility, judges and prosecutors are not exempt. A client's poor communication skills are not simply be "the lawyer's problem," but a matter of great concern for all stakeholders in the justice system.


October 23, 2013 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

California governor signs bill expanding abortion providers

From the Jurist:

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill, AB-154, that allows nurse practitioners and other non-physicians to perform an early abortion during the first trimester. The bill was introduced due to a lack of physicians who could perform abortions, which was preventing women from accessing such procedures. The new law requires non-physicians to undergo special training in performing abortions, but opponents argued that the new law will lower the medical standards, thereby endangering women's health. In response, proponents claimed that a pilot program which started in 2007 demonstrated that complication rates for doctors and non-physicians were similar and thus, that the procedure was safe.

For the full article, click here.


October 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Girl in Roma Camp

From CNN:

A lawyer for a Roma couple accused of abducting the girl found living with them says the pair adopted the child from her biological mother.

In a case that has generated huge interest in Greece, authorities have charged the couple with abducting the child they call "Maria." They appeared in court Monday and were remanded into custody pending a trial.

Authorities released photos of the child, possibly 4 or 5 years old, last week and sought public tips on her birth identity.

Kostas Katsavos, one of the couple's lawyers, told the Reuters news agency that they adopted Maria with the permission of her biological mother.

He conceded that the adoption was "non-legal." But he said he believes the biological mother will be located soon and will verify the couple's claims.

Read more, and see a video, here.


October 22, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Same-Sex Marriage Legal in NJ

From the New York Times:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey announced on Monday that he would drop his legal challenge to same-sex marriage, hours after gay couples started exchanging vows in midnight ceremonies across the state.

Mr. Christie’s withdrawal of his appeal to the court decision that allowed the marriages came on the heels of a ruling by the State Supreme Court on Friday that rejected his attempt to block the marriages until the appeal was resolved. His decision effectively removed the last hurdle to making same-sex marriage legal in New Jersey.

Read more here.


October 21, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

French court overrules prohibition on same-sex marriage for foreigners

From the Jurist:

A court in Chambery, France, ruled Friday that a Ministry of Justice circular, which stipulated that some foreign nationals would not be able to take advantage of France's same-sex marriage laws, is incorrect. The circular explained that France's bilateral agreement with 11 countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage prohibited French civil registrars from performing marriages between same-sex couples where one party was a national of one of those countries. The court ruled that the text of France's same-sex marriage law contradicts and supersedes the circular because Article 202-1 of the law provides that two people of the same sex can marry when at least one of them is domiciled in a country which permits same-sex marriage, and Article 202-2 further states that "the marriage is valid if it has been celebrated in accordance with the formalities required by the law of the State in which the celebration took place." Because of the wording of the French same-sex marriage law, the court has ruled that as long as at least one person in the couple is a French domiciliary, the couple can marry in France regardless of the nationality of his or her partner.

For the full text of the article, click here.


October 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

NJ Reform

From a letter to the editor of

There are currently two bills going through the state Legislature which would reform the current statutes relating to dissolution of marriages. Primarily these bills will do away with permanent alimony and establish guidelines for the amount and duration of alimony.

Read more here.


October 21, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ellis and Stuckless: Separation, Domestic Violence and Divorce Mediation

Desmond Ellis and Noreen Stuckless published Separation, domestic violence, and divorce mediation at 23 Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Issue 4, 461–485 (Summer 2006).  Here is the abstract:

DOVE, an instrument designed to assess and manage the risk of domestic violence, was administered to a sequential, random sample of one hundred forty-seven male and female partners prior to their participation in divorce mediation. Nineteen statistically significant predictors of both pre- and post-separation violence and abuse were identified. Conjugal violence and abuse, male partner control, and mental health problems were prominent among predictors of post-separation violence and abuse. Safety plan interventions and referrals aimed at promoting women's safety during and following their participation in divorce mediation are identified in the concluding segment of the paper.



October 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Family Planning in India


[In India, a] mother-in-law often dictates family planning decisions for the younger women in her household. Some health reformers are trying to change that dynamic through counseling efforts and discussion groups.

Read more here.


October 19, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Capacity to Consent to Marriage

From the ABA Journal:

An Illinois man who suffered a brain injury during surgery in 2009 can’t marry his girlfriend of 38 years because he doesn’t have the capacity to consent, a Rockford judge has ruled.

Judge Lisa Fabiano says she has no doubt that John Morris would like to marry long-time girlfriend, Colette Purifoy, and no doubt that Purifoy is utterly devoted to the man, the Rockford Register Star reports. But state law requires the capacity to consent, and there is no provision allowing a guardian to consent on behalf of a ward, Fabiano ruled last week.

For the text of the full article, click here.


October 18, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Forget 50 Shades of Grey, Now There's Grey Divorces

From the New York Times:

So much for “till death do us part.” For the first time, more Americans 50 and older are divorced than widowed, and the numbers are growing as baby boomers live longer. Sociologists call them gray divorcees.

Read more here.


October 18, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)