Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, March 30, 2015

Wedding "High"

From the New York Times:

The risk of self-delusion is ever-present in the days leading up to a wedding.

There you are, surrounded by parents, friends, caterers and florists, all vying for attention.

And as the big day approaches, everyone is caught up in the buildup of excitement, all of which leads some couples to mistake the celebration as the end of the process when it’s really anything but.

“Marriage can be a minefield that blows up without the proper navigation these days,” said Debbie Martinez, a Miami relationship coach.

That is why before saying “I Do,” some couples are also committing to premarital counseling sessions to refocus their attention on each other and the lives they will lead together.

Read more here.


March 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Marrying Across Class Lines

From Jessi Streib (assistant professor of sociology at Duke University), writing for the Washington Post:

Madison didn’t have an easy childhood. As a kid, her house was always in disrepair. Her parents couldn’t consistently afford electricity or indoor plumbing, never mind fancy appliances and wall hangings. Madison’s classmates made fun of her shabby surroundings. Some refused to play with her.

Even after graduating from college, marrying and settling into a middle-class life, Madison couldn’t shake her insecurity about her home. She read design magazines and blogs obsessively, poring over the latest trends in closet organization and wall colors. She redecorated frequently and was rarely confident in her choices. When she redid her kitchen, she considered more than 200 faucets.

Her husband, Evan, hated how much Madison (their names, like all names in this piece, have been changed as a condition for my interviews) spent on furniture and gadgets they didn’t need. He couldn’t understand her fixation. Why would he? Evan grew up with middle-class parents, in the kind of house Madison was so desperate to re-create.

Studies show that couples argue more about money than about sex, chores or spending time together. For partners who marry across class lines, however, money isn’t just something to fight about. In researching my book about inter-class couples, I found that the financial stability of the spouses’ childhoods shaped their marriages in many ways, contributing to clashes about leisure time, home maintenance and even how to talk through their feelings. These pairs were middle class by the time I met them, but their different backgrounds still caused problems.

Read more here.


March 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Young v. United States Parcel Service

 Professors Naomi Cahn & June Carbone, on the GWU Law Review blog:

At the core of the Court’s decision in Young v. United Parcel Service is a fundamental question of feminist jurisprudence: should women be treated the same as men, or should they receive special treatment?1 Which strategy would better achieve gender equality?2 The debate itself is decades-old, and the Court has—appropriately enough—zigged and zagged in its resolution of the issues.3

Liberal feminists have sought to emphasize women’s similarities to men, arguing that women do not need special treatment to “compensate” for the physical reality that women can become pregnant; on the other hand, women should not be treated differently and penalized when they do become pregnant.4 Thus, in a case that helped served as a catalyst for the Pregnancy Discrimination Act’s enactment, General Electric Co. excluded pregnant workers from its temporary disability benefits plan, and liberal feminists argued that the deliberate exclusion of pregnant workers constituted sex discrimination. The Court, however, held that the policy did not discriminate on the basis of sex because (ahem), “an exclusion of pregnancy from a disability-benefits plan providing general coverage is not a gender-based discrimination at all. Pregnancy is, of course, confined to women, but it is in other ways significantly different from the typical covered disease or disability.”5 This reasoning echoed an earlier opinion, in which the Court noted that a program which divided people “into two groups—pregnant women and nonpregnant persons”—did not necessarily constitute discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause.6

Read more here.


March 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fund Manager's Divorce

From CNN Money:

A fund's alpha -- the measure of how much it beats the market -- falls by an annualized 8.5% around the time of a manager's marriage, according to a study released this month by University of Florida economists. The alpha dips 7.4% during a divorce.

It's surprising that marriage actually does more damage to a fund manager's performance, according Dr. Sugata Ray, one of the paper's authors.

Divorce has always been a red flag for savvy investors. Hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones II, said he withdraws his money from a fund when a manager's marriage breaks up.

Read more here.


March 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 27, 2015



She was 23 years into her marriage when her husband swung a hammer at her head – and missed. He later was convicted of a felony, and they divorced.  But what happened next was almost as shocking as the assault: Her ex-husband asked the court to award him spousal support – and won.

The Richmond-area woman’s story prompted a state legislator to propose a bill that would prohibit courts from awarding alimony to a spouse who has been convicted of domestic violence.

HB 2105, sponsored by Del. Christopher Peace, R-Mechanicsville, died last week in the House Courts of Justice Committee. But the victim who inspired the legislation hopes her story eventually will lead to changes in the law.

Read more here.


March 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

South Carolina Alimony

From Cheraw Chronicle:

In South Carolina, the topic of alimony is heating up as the state’s alimony laws are being challenged by South Carolina Alimony Reform, an organization formed in 2011 and led by Wyman Oxner, an Orangeburg resident whose 21-year marriage ended in 2000.

Working with Oxner, Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, introduced a bill to create an alimony reform study committee composed of three House members, three Senate members and four others appointed by state officials.

Under a second bill, introduced by Rep. Cezar McKnight, D-Williamsburg, and Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Spartanburg, alimony would be limited to marriages lasting 10 or more years.

Read more here.


March 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

FL Alimony

From Sun Sentinel:

Legislation that would end permanent alimony in Florida also would let people reduce their payments after retiring.

House and Senate versions of the bill were filed late Tuesday to overhaul Florida's alimony system and, for the first time, impose a formula for awarding support.

Under the bill, judges would be required to consider the length of the marriage and the difference in income between the spouses. Shorter and lower alimony payments would be given to spouses in marriages that lasted 20 years or less.

Read more here.


March 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


From Indian Country Today Media Network:

On Tuesday, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn announced that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has published revised, sweeping new guidelines to ensure the rights and protections of Native families and children under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). In remarks at the winter session of the National Congress of American Indians, Washburn said that updating Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings in the Federal Register had become necessary due to the continued misapplication and noncompliance of ICWA in state and federal courts since it was first published in 1979.

Working in collaboration with other government agencies to press for the full implementation of the federal law, Washburn confirmed that the BIA is redoubling its efforts to prevent the break-up of Indian families and the further destruction of tribal communities.

Read more here.


March 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act

From Omaha World-Herald:

Nebraska has now joined six states that have adopted what’s called the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act.

State Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue, who sponsored the legislation, said the U.S. Department of Defense has endorsed laws for deployed parents as one the key steps states can take to improve the well-being of military families. Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard, also supported passage of the law.

“Without a predictable plan in place, these messy types of issues can impact morale, preparedness and focus on the mission at hand,” Crawford said.

Under the act, parents facing deployment can ask a court to grant their child-custody responsibilities to a nonparent. The step-in could be a step-parent, a grandparent or a friend who has an established relationship with the child.

Read more here.


March 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

On Child Custody

From Lexington Herald Leader:

Equality under the law is a uniquely American principle, one that no freedom-loving person would oppose, but the manner in which the principle is applied to the issue of child custody treats children as property, like pieces of furniture, rather than human beings with rights of their own, including the right to stable living conditions.

When considering the issue of custody, judges often regard two divorcing parents who are equally responsible as deserving of equal time with their kids. They rule, therefore, that the kids will spend 182 days a year with one parent and 183 days with the other. That's very nice and virtually guarantees that neither parent is going to be upset, that they are both going to feel as if the court treated them fairly. Indeed, that is consistent with what they tell me: It's fair.

No, it's not fair. These judges are ruling for the best interests of the parents but their best interests are not the issue. Concerning custody, the children's best interests should rule. The parents have responsibilities, one of which is to accept that even when both of them are equally fit, it is best that custody and visitation arrangements guarantee to the greatest degree possible that their kids will enjoy post-divorce living arrangements that are least disruptive.

Read more here.


March 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Parental Rights in PA

From 90.5 WESA:

“It’s an unbelievable thing,” said Kristen Houser, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, referencing current PA laws that allow a convicted rapist to maintain parental rights over a child conceived through rape.

State Senator Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) and Representative Joe Hackett (R-Delaware) are introducing the Rape Survivor Child Custody and Support Act in the Senate and House, respectively. Under this legislation, courts can terminate the parental rights of a convicted rapist while maintaining the rapist’s obligation to pay child support.

Vulakovich says this will close a large loophole in Pennsylvania law that is potentially damaging to sexual assault survivors.

Read more here.


March 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cross-Border Child Support

From Rappler:

Judiciaries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will work together to better address cross-border child custody rows due to collapsed marriages between nationals of two different countries in the region.

ASEAN chief justices and judiciary leaders agreed on Monday, March 2, to form a working committee co-chaired by Philippine Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro to tackle the matter more closely.

Read more here.


March 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Outstanding Child Support

From Scranton Times-Tribune:

To force a Scott Twp. man to pay what he owes his ex-wife and two high-school-age children, Lackawanna County has taken the highly unusual route of going after his houses and land.  Jeffrey Borsheski, 48, is nearly $40,000 behind in his child-support payments.

“We’ve given Mr. Borsheski time after time after time to come in and make this right, and he just ignores us,” said Patrick Luongo, director of the county’s Domestic Relations Department.

Among Lackawanna County’s Most Wanted for outstanding child support, Mr. Borsheski has proven somewhat crafty as well as stubborn. The county notified him in May 2012 of its intention to seize and sell his property to pay his large bill, according to the county’s civil suit against him. That’s when he made his move: transferring the property to his new wife and her son, authorities say.

Read more here.


March 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Turn It Around"

From WDRB:

The term "deadbeat" is usually associated with dads who don't take care of their children. But sometimes, moms are the ones missing in action. 

WDRB News has discovered a program that helps turn both men and women from inmates into income earners.

The "Turn It Around" program is used as an alternative to being locked up at Metro Corrections. That's because no one pays child support from behind bars.

The majority of the cases are men, but there are also women in the program.

Read more here.


March 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Child Support Mistake

From WRTV Indianapolis:

Lional Campbell's son, Michael, passed away at the age of three from acute meningitis.

"It took a lot out of me," says Campbell who is from Detroit and now lives in Kentucky. And it's that distance that is making it even more difficult for Campbell to wage a fight with the Wayne County Friend of the Court over child support that Campbell says he is still paying for Michael.

A spokesperson for the Friend of the Court says no one ever notified them of the boy's death until Campbell began asking why he still owed child support in 2011 for a child that was deceased by the age of 3.

Read more here.


March 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Child Support from Gambling Earnings

From Hutchinson News:

House members wagered Tuesday legislation targeting gamblers striking it rich at the three state-owned casinos could contribute cash to cover delinquent child support payments or unpaid state tax obligations.

House Bill 2269 would expand the state’s debt payment program that withholds outstanding child support from lottery ticket winnings in excess of $600. The bill incorporates into the formula the casinos in Dodge City, Mulvane and Kansas City, Kan., while also excluding the tribal casinos operating in Kansas.

Under the measure, the Kansas Department of Administration would work with casino managers to monitor individuals’ gambling activities and attach earnings when an indebted person pulled down at least $1,200 from a slot machine or bingo, $1,500 from keno or $5,000 from a poker tournament.

Read more here.


March 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Divorce in Military


The military's divorce rate dropped again last year reaching its lowest point since 2005, according to statistics released today by the Defense Department.

The divorce rate among both officer and enlisted men and women over 2014 was 3.1 percent, Pentagon officials said, only slightly higher than the 2005 rate of 3 percent. The newly released statistics show how the rate has steadily declined since 2011, when it reached a high water mark of 3.7 percent.  The rate in 2001, at the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was 2.6 percent.

Read more here.


March 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Divorce in Catholic Church

From The Boston Globe:

THE SISTER-IN-LAW who faithfully attends weekly Mass, but couldn’t celebrate a second marriage in a Catholic Church because she and her husband-to-be were previously divorced. The friend who was told he couldn’t join the Parish Council because he married a divorced woman and, by the way, shouldn’t be receiving Communion.

To Catholics, practicing and lapsed, those are familiar anecdotes. They are the stories of fellow Catholics who find that due to a decision to end their own marriage, and remarry, or to marry someone who is divorced, “they are excommunicated de facto,” as Pope Francis put it, with all the personal anguish that can entail.

It’s encouraging that Francis is adding divorce to the list of topics open to debate under his papacy. But just like other controversial matters of dogma, such as the church’s ban on artificial contraception and gay marriage, there’s a wide gulf between traditionalists and those who long for change.

Read more here.


March 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Collaborative Divorce

From Daily Record:

There’s a new kinder, gentler way to be divorced in New Jersey called collaborative divorce. Last fall, Gov. Christie signed the New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act, making New Jersey the ninth of 11 states to legitimize a practice touted by proponents as more speedy and less costly than traditional divorce.

The method, which aims to envelope the spouses and their lawyers in a team of experts and a cooperative spirit, has been used here for a decade. With the passage of the law, however, it has become the fourth official way to become divorced in New Jersey where the options are to litigate, mediate, arbitrate, or collaborate.

Read more here.


March 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage Recognition in Mississippi

From DeSoto Times Today:

The Mississippi Supreme Court is continuing its deliberations in the matter of a DeSoto County woman who wants the state to recognize her California same-sex marriage for the purposes of having the state grant the couple a divorce.

Justices Tuesday asked attorneys for Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham and the state of Mississippi to file supplemental briefs in the case. The order was filed Thursday.

Oral arguments in the matter were heard in Jackson on Jan. 21. 

Attorneys have 30 days to provide the briefs. The vote requesting the briefs was 6-3. Justices David Chandler, Leslie King and James Kitchens were the three who opposed the request for further briefs.

Read more here.


March 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)