Family Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lambda Legal and ACLU of Illinois Expedite Marriage for Same-sex Couples Facing Urgent Medical Circumstances


A federal court ordered the Cook County Clerk's office to immediately issue marriage licenses to all Illinois same-sex couples who, because of a life-threatening illness, cannot wait until next summer to get married. The order comes after three Illinois couples were granted emergency marriage license applications because one of the partners has a terminal illness. Starting today, couples may marry before June 1, 2014, if they provide a doctor's declaration stating that one or both of them has a life-threatening illness.

The order provides a streamlined process for couples in similarly urgent medical circumstances, allowing a physician to evaluate a person's illness to determine if an emergency marriage license is needed and appropriate. The order allows couples to get the protections and responsibilities of marriage without having to go through a legal and possibly public process during a time when privacy and calm is of utmost importance.

For the full text of the article, click here.


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

Millionaires' Prenup Habits

From SF Weekly:

A recent study from found that millionaire men in Silicon Valley, 82.6 percent to be exact, are most likely to seek out non-millionaire women. And get this, only 16.2 percent would insist on a prenuptial agreement.

Millionaire women, however, are quite the opposite and 86.7 percent of them prefer to date other millionaires. And 92.4 percent insist on the union between prenups and dry ink.

Read more here.


December 31, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pole dancer wins $3.25 million divorce settlement in landmark legal case

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

A woman who worked as a pole dancer is set to receive $3.25 million from her ex-husband after the Family Court ruled against his bid to have their pre-nuptial agreement overturned because of her "false promises".

The couple, referred to by the court as Mr Wallace and Ms Stelzer, first met in 1998, when he was married to someone else, and moved in together shortly after.

He was 51 years old, divorced and came into the marriage with an "overwhelming pool of assets". He has a net worth of more than $16 million.

She was 38 years old at the time, “had no assets” and had also been married previously.

In 2004, Mr Wallace divorced his first wife, transferring property and paying her $7 million in the divorce settlement.

He married Ms Stelzer in October 2005, but not before a pre-nuptial agreement was signed, stating that Ms Stelzer would receive $3.25 million if the marriage broke down in the first four years.

They separated after two.

For the full text of the article, click here.


December 30, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Prenups in China

From Want China Times:

With divorce increasingly commonplace in China, prenuptial agreements are becoming a trend in order to avoid legal battles over property in the event of a breakup.

The trend is reflected in the booming business of Yao Xiangyang (a pseudonym), a lawyer in southern China's Guangdong province who began to move into the area of prenuptial agreements a few years ago after receiving requests from numerous entrepreneurs, which convinced him that few in China possess sufficient legal knowledge to protect their fortunes.

Read more here.


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

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Maxwell: "A Child Can Have Two Mothers: Frazier v. Goudschaal"

Nancy G. Maxwell (Washburn University School of Law) has published A Child Can Have Two Mothers: Frazier v. Goudschaal at 296 Kansas Reports 730 (2013).

Here is the abstract:

The article outlines the facts and provides an analysis of the Kansas Supreme Court case Marci Frazier v. Kelly Goudschaal. Frazier filed two actions in Johnson County District Court — one for equitable partition of real and personal property and a second action for enforcement of the parenting agreement. The second action was dismissed and added by an amendment to the partition petition. Goudschaal filed a motion to dismiss alleging the district court could not divide specific portions of individually titled property and the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider Frazier’s request for parenting time.

The District Court denied Goudschaal’s motion to dismiss, finding two separate and independent bases for jurisdiction. Having found jurisdiction under the Kansas Parentage Act (KPA), the district court awarded joint custody based on the best interests of the children. Goudschaal was awarded residential custody and Frazier was ordered to pay child support and received reasonable parenting time. Regarding the equitable partition of the parties’ real and personal property, the district court determined the parties had co-mingled their assets and therefore each had an interest in the other’s financial accounts. The district court ordered an equitable division of the assets that included Goudschaal’s retirement account.

The Kansas Supreme Court found that the district court had the authority to divide the parties’ property; to determine the existence or nonexistence of a mother and child relationship between Frazier and the two children; to determine the validity and effect of the co-parenting agreement; and to enter such orders with respect to child custody, parenting time, and child support that are in the best interests of the children.


December 29, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Adoption/Foster Care Funds in VA

From Greenwich Time:

Gov. Bob McDonnell is proposing nearly $28 million in state funding in the next two-year budget cycle for the foster care system and adoption efforts.

Read more here.


December 28, 2013 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Case considers effect of family law issues on structured settlements

From Canada's Law Times:

A judge has rejected a mother’s claim to have her paralyzed ex-husband’s support payments based on the entire damages award received through a structured settlement.

The Superior Court of Justice decision confirms that damages awarded for medical costs don’t count as income for the purpose of calculating spousal and child support payments.

Daniel Mason and Jennifer Mason separated in February 2012 and have joint custody of their two young daughters, according to Justice Helen Pierce’s decision this fall inJennifer Lyn Mason v. Daniel Mark Mason.

Daniel suffered a severe injury in a motor vehicle accident when he was 17 that left him paralyzed from the waist down and with compromised functioning of his upper arms and hands.

The court issued a damages assessment of which roughly a third, or $600,000, was for his loss of earning capacity.

The rest of the award was mainly for the costs of his ongoing care.

For family support purposes, he put his annual income as $117,415, nearly all of which was from the settlement.

For the text of the full article, click here.



December 27, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Adoption Numbers in Australia

From the Guardian:

Almost every adoption in Australia by carers such as foster parents took place in New South Wales in the past financial year, contributing to a rise in overall adoption after the lowest recorded number last year.

The number of finalised adoptions in Australia was 339 in the 2012–13 financial year, up from the previous year’s all-time low of 333, according to the latest report on adoption from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Australian children made up 210 of the adoptions and of those 78 were adopted by carers such as foster parents in NSW. Outside of the state there were just three other adoptions by carers.

Read more here.


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

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mississippi Court of Appeals: De facto parent status can rebut the natural parent presumption for child custody

The Mississippi Court of Appeals recently decided In re V.D.W., 2012-CA-00884-COA, 2013 WL 6231797 (Miss. Ct. App. Dec. 3, 2013), holding that a de facto parent status can rebut the natural parent presumption for child custody in unique cases.  
Jake and Anne were married for five years and two children were born of their union.  Vanessa was born five months into their marriage.  Brett was born over a year and half later.  When Jake and Anne divorced, they had a custody arrangement with which neither was satisfied.  Anne filed a complaint for support and Jake countered for a change of custody.  Before a hearing could be held, Tommie filed a motion for custody, visitation and paternity for the oldest child Vanessa based on a one-night stand he had with Anne prior to her marriage to Jake.  
The trial court awarded custody of the minor child to Anne, granting visitation to both the natural father and presumed father, who had raised the child as his own. The court found that Tommie was entitled to the natural-parent presumption under Mississippi law which presumes that it is in the child's best interest to be placed with a natural parent vs. a third party, i.e., a grandparent. However, the court found that while Jake stood in loco parentis, based on his raising Vanessa as his own, it did not rebut the natural-parent presumption. 
The Court of Appeals found nothing wrong in the factual findings of the trial court, but found that the trial court used the wrong line of cases as precedent-- it used cases where the third party was a grandparent or other family member, requiring a stricter standard to rebut the presumption that placement with a natural parent (over a third party) is in the child's best interest.  However, there were cases in which the third party was a husband who acts under the assumption that he is the father of the child that his wife bore, and those cases used the doctrine of in loco parentis to put the presumed father on equal footing with the natural parent. These cases were distinguishable from the grandparent cases because a presumed father has existing legal rights and obligations that the third parties in those cases did not have. The Court of Appeals found that this case was in fact a presumed father as third party case, thus, it held that the presumed father's actions rebutted the natural-parent presumption of custody and reversed and remanded to consider the presumed father on equal footing with the natural parents to determine custody of Vanessa.
For the full text of the opinion, click here.

December 26, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abandonment Charges

From News One:

An Ohio prosecutor said...he will pursue abandonment charges in cases similar to his latest in which authorities say a couple gave their 9-year-old adopted son to child welfare officials after raising him from infancy.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said similar cases have been handled in the past within the children services agencies and domestic courts. And while that’s appropriate, he said, criminal charges should also be considered.

Read more here.


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

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas


December 25, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Internet's Impact on Adoption

From USA Today:

As with most areas of modern life, the Internet has had a "transformative impact" on the adoption process, and most people involved say the technology's contribution has been positive, a new study finds. But they also express concerns about Internet-based cases of fraud, manipulation and exploitation, particularly of pregnant women considering giving up their babies for adoption and adults seeking to adopt.

Read more here.


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

Monday, December 23, 2013

CRR-CLS Fellowship Opportunity - Deadline Extended!

The deadline for the 2014-2016 Columbia Law School – Center for Reproductive Rights Fellowship (CRR-CLS Fellowship) has been extended to February 28, 2014!
The CRR-CLS Fellowship is an exciting opportunity for recent law school graduates who are interested in careers in teaching law. Please keep your eye out for promising scholars and keep in mind that experience in reproductive rights is not required. You can download the application here.

Here is our track record thus far:

  • 2008-2010 Fellow, Professor Khiara Bridges is teaching at Boston University School of Law in a tenure-track position with a joint appointment to the Anthropology Department;
  • 2010-2012 Fellow, Professor Elizabeth Sepper is in a tenure-track position at Washington University School of Law;
  • 2011-2013 Fellow, Professor Erez Aloni is teaching at Whittier Law School;
  • 2012-2014 Fellow, Margaux Hall is in residence; and
  • 2013-2015 Fellow, Rana Jaleel is in residence.

Here is a little more information about the Fellowship:

The CRR-CLS Fellowship is a two-year, post-graduate fellowship offered by the Center for Reproductive Rights (the Center) and Columbia Law School (CLS). Those committed to women’s rights and/or human rights would be a great fit for this fellowship – although we don’t require experience in these areas. More than anything, this is a fellowship for serious emerging academics. Fellows will be affiliated with the Center and CLS, and will participate in the intellectual life of both programs. Applicants do not need to be graduates of Columbia Law School to be eligible for this program and do not need prior experience in reproductive rights.
The deadline for applications for the 2014-2016 cycle is now February 28, 2014.
If you would like to learn more about the Center’s Law School Initiative, which supports the Fellowship, please visit our website here, email the Senior Director of the Law School Initiative, Diana Hortsch, or contact me directly at


December 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

IN App. Ct. Case on Whether Gender Transition Voids Marriage

From the Indiana Law Blog:

The ILB has obtained a copy of the filed and to-be-posted-today Court of Appeals opinion in the case of Davis v. Summers. I'm told this is the first known appellate decision in any state to hold that a gender transition during marriage does not make a marriage void under a state mini-DOMA that outlaws same-sex marriage.

Read the decision here.


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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Winter


December 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bill for Partially Funded Maternity Leave

From Washington Post Opinions:

How often can we hear that government should be more responsive to the problems Americans face now? But the vogue for simply assuming that government cannot — or should not — do much of anything about those problems leads to paralysis. This, in turn, further increases disaffection from government.

For all these reasons, it was exciting last week to see Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut introduce the FAMILY Act, the acronym standing for their Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. The bill would provide partial income for up to 12 weeks of leave for new parents and for other family demands, such as care for a sick family member, including a domestic partner.

Read more here.


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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Contacting Sperm Donor

Wendy Kramer and Naomi Cahn, writing for the New York Times:

If you plan to contact your child’s donor, we suggest following Ryan’s lead: be honest and be yourself. Consider telling the donor your child’s age, interests, activities, family composition and physical attributes. To put the donor at ease, explain your child’s curiosity and let him or her know what your intentions are. Although you may be incredibly curious, try not to pry or ask questions that require overtly emotional answers.

Read more here.


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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Domestic Violence Victims to be Given Survey by Police

From the Post Gazette:

Pittsburgh police will roll out a new domestic violence program next week, but it already has its critics, including the police union's president who calls it well-intentioned but flawed.

Starting Monday, police officers responding to calls of domestic violence must offer the suspected victims an 11-question survey aimed at predicting the likelihood that they will be killed by their partners.

Click here for the full text of the article.


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

Parental Rights

Professor Naomi Cahn (George Washington) has an interesting article about the parental rights of various parties in a child’s life, including a very involved sperm donor.  Read it here.


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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Groups duke it out over pair of rival alimony-reform bills in New Jersey


Talks over two competing alimony reform bills are becoming as heated as the divorce fights they both aim to regulate.

A group proposing to overhaul New Jersey’s alimony laws says legislation proposed by the New Jersey State Bar Association to do the same thing will hamper actual reform needed in the state.

Representatives with New Jersey Alimony Reform and New Jersey Women for Alimony Reform claim their bill, A-3909, which would provide guidelines on awarding alimony based on the length of the marriage, has been stalled since the recent introduction of the one backed by the New Jersey Bar Association. 

Click here for the full text of the article.


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