Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

National Adoption Month

Today concludes the National Adoption Month.  Here is a heartwarming adoption story from Del Mar Times:

Nov. 30 is a special day for the Bonadeo family of Del Mar.

John and Betty Bonadeo will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary, and their oldest child will turn 10 years old. Dorothea, 9, proudly informs others that she was born on her parents’ wedding day.

Read more here.


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

Friday, November 29, 2013

DMT v. TMH in FL

From Newswise:

Florida’s Supreme Court ruled recently that a woman who donated eggs to her lesbian partner has parental rights to the child and ordered the lower courts to resolve custody, child support and visitation issues (DMT v. TMH).

Read more here.


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

Thursday, November 28, 2013


November 28, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Marriage Markets

From CNN:

Liu Jianle smiles as he spots a potential suitor for his recently divorced niece among a sea of white personal ads pegged to a board.

Pencil in hand, he jots down the man's details -- 33 years old, 1.7 meters tall (5 feet 7 inches), 140 pounds, a property owner, divorced but no kids.

The only wrinkle is that his salary is $800 a month, not high by Shanghai standards. No matter, says Liu, his niece has a good job.

Welcome to Shanghai's marriage market.

Each weekend, mothers, fathers and, in Liu's case, concerned uncles, come to a sun-dappled corner of Shanghai's People's Park to find Mister or Miss Right for their children.

Read more here.


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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Upcoming U.S. Supreme Court Case

From Margaret Ryznar, writing for the Huffington Post:

On December 11, 2013, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Lozano v. Alvarez, a case arising under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is the second consecutive year that that the United States Supreme Court is considering the provisions in this Convention: last term, the Court decided Chafin v. Chafin, 133 S.Ct. 1017 (2013), holding that the jurisdiction of American appellate courts does not end when the child has been returned to another country.

Lozano now probes one of the exceptions to the return of the child under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Although ordinarily a court must return a child pursuant to the Convention, Article 12 provides an exception if the petition for return of the child is filed more than 1 year after the child's removal and a preponderance of the evidence shows that the child is now settled in her environment such that her return would not be in her best interests. The question in Lozano is whether a court may equitably toll (i.e., suspend) the running of this one-year filing period when the abducting parent has concealed the whereabouts of the child.

Read more here.


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

Monday, November 25, 2013

China Eases 1-Child Policy

From the Los Angeles Times:

China announced Friday that it would ease its deeply unpopular one-child policy, a high-profile move by new leaders to limit a program that has prevented millions of births but helped create an aging population that could constrict economic growth.

The decision to allow couples to have a second baby if either is an only child is part of a reform package that includes abolishing the much-criticized "re-education through labor" program, which allows people to be sent to labor camps for up to four years without trial.

Read more here.




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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pets in Divorce

From the Huffington Post:

Since most courts consider pets to be personal property just like your coffee maker or favorite sofa, judges usually follow the same guidelines they use to determine who gets to keep personal property when couples are dividing things due to divorce. Depending on where you live during divorce, your pets may be considered community property or separate property that is awarded to only one spouse during the divorce.

During the last several years, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers surveyed divorce lawyers throughout the U.S. and discovered a significant increase in the number of pet custody cases finding their way through the legal system.

Read more here.



November 23, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 22, 2013

IL Same-Sex Marriages

From CBS News:

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Wednesday allowing same-sex weddings starting this summer, making President Barack Obama's home state the 16th overall - and largest in the nation's heartland - to legalize same-sex marriage.

Read more here.


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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Reflections on Baby Girl

Boston University Law Review’s inaugural edition of Annex: Perspectives presents 4 reflections on the recent SupremeCourt decision, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.  Read them here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Brito: "Fathers Behind Bars: Rethinking Child Support Policy Toward Low-Income Noncustodial Fathers and Their Families"

 Tonya L. Brito (University of Wisconsin Law School) has posted Fathers Behind Bars: Rethinking Child Support Policy Toward Low-Income Noncustodial Fathers and Their Families, 15 Iowa Journal of Gender, Race & Justice 417 (2012) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Since September 2005, Michael Turner has been incarcerated on six different occasions for nonpayment of child support.1 His prison terms total over three years in jail. He currently owes over $20,000 in unpaid child support, and while he remains in prison on his current sentence, he will accumulate even more debt that he is unable to pay. After his release, South Carolina's automated case processing machinery will issue another order to show cause. Turner's experience with the child support system is all too common. Other poor noncustodial fathers report similar dystopian experiences. Across the United States,destitute noncustodial parents are incarcerated for failing to meet child support obligations they have no means to pay. The end result is that indigent child support debtors fill jails across the country. Although child support law and policy is targeted at so-called "deadbeat dads" who have the ability to pay but choose not to pay, the prison door continues to revolve for poor noncustodial fathers who are unable to pay. This Article highlights Michael Turner's experience with the child support system to illuminate the experience of thousands of poor fathers exactly like him. It explores the systemic policies and practices of the child support system that operate to create a revolving prison door for no- and low-income fathers who are under an order of child support. It also reviews the empirical evidence regarding the economic status and employment capabilities of disadvantaged fathers. It further chronicles their experience with the child support system, from the establishment of unrealistically high child support orders to the accumulation of onerous arrearages and ultimately, the application of punitive and unwarranted enforcement measures (including imprisonment). In concluding, the Article argues that this approach to secure child support payments from disadvantaged noncustodial fathers has not only been largely ineffective but has also produced unintended consequences that run counter to the goal of improving the economic well-being of poor children. The Article proposes a novel approach to child support enforcement in poor families. It contemplates a change in program priorities such that the goal of providing economic support to poor children is made paramount, even if this shift is made at the expense of pursuing the dual (and often conflicting) goal of welfare cost recoupment. With this enhanced commitment to children's economic needs in mind, the Article presents a multi-pronged alternative scheme for child support.


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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pope & Fisch: "Legal Briefing: Home Birth and Midwifery"

Thaddeus Mason Pope (Hamline Law) and Deborah Fisch (Independent) have posted "Legal Briefing: Home Birth and Midwifery," 24 Journal of Clinical Ethics 293 (2013) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Since 2009, Professor Pope has authored a quarterly "Legal Briefing" column for the Journal of Clinical Ethics. Each briefing comprehensively reviews legal developments concerning a particular issue in clinical bioethics. 

This issue’s “Legal Briefing” column covers recent legal developments involving home birth and midwifery in the United States. Specifically, we focus on new legislative, regulatory, and judicial acts that impact women’s access to direct entry (non-nurse) midwives. We categorize these legal developments into the following 12 categories: 

1. Background and History

2. Certified Nurse-Midwives

3. Direct Entry Midwives

4. Prohibition of Direct Entry Midwives

5. Enforcement of Prohibition

6. Challenges to Prohibition

7. Forbearance without License

8. Voluntary Licensure

9. Unclear and Uncertain Status

10. Growth of DEM Licensure

11. Licensure Restrictions

12. Medicaid Coverage


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

Monday, November 18, 2013

Adoption Criteria

From Time:

Stricter criteria on international adoptions means more kids are left in institutions longer, which could be detrimental to their physical and mental health, says a new study from an adoption group.

Read more here.


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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

UK Statistics on Family

New statistics on UK family types are out; they are available here.


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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Parents go to court over sugar sweets

From the

Separated parents have resorted to taking legal action to curb their children's festive sugar intake as a deadline looms for Christmas custody deals this Friday.

Huge legal bills are being racked up as the Family Court of Australia also takes action to sanction parents who give their teenagers a tipple at the Christmas table.

Trouble-making in-laws and new partners and spouses have been singled out by warring litigants who have until the national filing deadline on November 8 to apply for holiday season orders.

"The court has to assume that parents will act responsibly and you would hope parents would not be feeding children heaps of sugar or giving teenagers alcohol, but it happens,'' Family Lawyer Nikolai Koolik said.

Mr Koolik, a North Lakes' based mediator, said the emotion-charged atmosphere of Christmas Day often led to disputes at change overs and "every excuse under the sun'' for noncompliance.

For the full text of the article, click here.


November 15, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Government-Encouraged Date Nights

From the Guardian:

The secret to a long-lasting marriage is not humour, patience, shared interests or an equal division of household chores. It's government intervention.

That, at least, is the hope of Norway's ruling Populist party, which is promoting date nights as a cure for flagging marriages in an attempt to reduce the country's divorce rate.

Read more here.


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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Luna & Luker: "Reproductive Justice"

Zakiya Luna (University of California, Berkeley Law) and Kristin Luker (University of California, Berkeley Law) have published Reproductive Justice at 9 Annual Review of Law and Social Science, pp 149 -166 (2013).

Here is the abstract:

The authors examine the development of reproductive rights, a law-focused movement, and reproductive justice, a social justice–aimed movement that emphasizes intersecting social identities (e.g., gender, race, and class) and community-developed solutions to structural inequalities. In examining the intertwining histories of the reproductive health, reproductive rights, and reproductive justice movements, we consider the relationship between law and social movements, including the limits of law to inform radical social movements. We highlight how the relationship between scholarship and activism on the right to not have children has expanded to include notions of the right to have children (e.g., for low-income people or with the aid of technology) and the right to parent with dignity (e.g., for incarcerated people or in nonmedicalized settings). We end the article with a discussion of best practices and future directions for research.


November 14, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Child Support in Embryo Freezing Cases

From Connecticut Law Tribune:

The latest scientific technology that allows human embryos to be frozen and used years – even decades — after fertilization to produce offspring is raising legal questions about the rights of all involved.

Among the many questions that have been recently considered is whether a child born by in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be the beneficiary of court-ordered child support, especially when the father isn't informed of the pregnancy. So far, trial court rulings in many states have been inconsistent on the matter, leaving it likely that the issue will be taken to higher courts.

Read more here (subscription required).


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New law changes alimony landscape for divorcing Colorado couples

From the Denver Post:

Divorcing couples will face dramatic changes — and significant uncertainty — related to alimony after a new state law goes into effect on Jan. 1.

"It's groundbreaking legislation," said Heidi Culbertson, director of client development at the Harris Law Firm, which specializes in family law. "For the first time, Colorado will have a formula for maintenance."

It's part of a national alimony reform movement, with many state legislatures seeking to either limit or standardize spousal maintenance payments. In particular, the focus has been on the lack of consistency in maintenance orders, which resulted in perceptions of unfairness and the inability to predict outcomes.

For the full text of the article, click here.



November 13, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Separation's Impact on Finances

A great financial article from Forbes is here.



November 13, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Moral Intuitions About Fault, Parenting, and Child Custody after Divorce

Ashley Votruba,  Sanford L. Braver (ASU),  Ira Mark Ellman (ASU College of Law), and William V. Fabricius (ASU) have recently posted Moral Intuitions About Fault, Parenting, and Child Custody after Divorce on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

Allocations of child custody post-divorce are currently determined according to the Best Interest Standard, i.e. on what is best for the child, as compared to standards of the recent past which weighed fairness to the parents or parental fault (or marital misconduct). Since any such evolving standards rest so fully on changing cultural norms, an important question is how these standards correspond to the moral intuitions of lay citizens asked to take the role of judge in hypothetical cases. Do factors such as whether one parent had an extramarital affair influence their custody decision-making? In the current studies, a representative sample of citizens awaiting jury service were first given a neutral scenario portraying an “average” family. Almost 80% favored dividing custodial time equally between the two parents, replicating our earlier finding. Then, in Study 1, they were given a second, Test case, vignette in which either the mother or the father was said to have carried on an extramarital affair that “essentially ruined the marriage”. In Study 2, either the mother or the father was said to have sought the divorce, opposed by the other, simply because he or she “grew tired” of the marriage. For both Test cases, more than half the respondents made little or no adjustment to their parenting time allocation, but a substantial minority did, awarding the offending parent significantly less parenting time. While one might guess some respondents would be motivated to punish the adulterous parent, we believe it less likely they would believe it appropriate to punish a spouse who sought to end marriages they no longer found satisfying. Given that there was relatively little difference in our respondents' reactions to the two test cases, we therefore considered explanations, for the responses of those who did reduce parenting time, that could apply equally to both test cases. We suggest two possibilities: 1) they find the behavior in both test cases evidence that the offending parents' commitment to parenting is deficient, since they were willing to risk imposing divorce on their children by their behavior, or 2) a spouse who imposes the burden of parental separation on the children by causing divorce should be penalized, not for the offensiveness of their conduct, but for the harm they caused their children by bringing about the divorce.


November 12, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)