Family Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Prenuptial Agreement Considerations for Same-Sex Couples

From The National Law Review:

Nearly everyone who is engaged to be married contemplates a prenuptial agreement at some point, even if only to acknowledge the possibility briefly and conclude that they are not a good candidate.

Most young couples entering a first marriage with few assets and no children probably decide that the benefit of a prenuptial agreement doesn't outweigh the cost – both the financial cost and the cost of a tense conversation with their future spouse where they discuss the possibility of divorce before they've even tied the knot.

On the other hand, couples entering a second marriage later in life might conclude that a prenuptial agreement is worth the financial and personal investment if either of them has children from a previous relationship or has accumulated significant assets.

A same-sex couple that gets divorced after being together for decades but married for only a few years might only be "credited" with the few years of legal marriage. This can skew the reality of the relationship and generate an unfair result in divorce.

Now that marriage is available to same-sex couples in Michigan, those couples must also decide whether or not a prenuptial agreement is right for them. The same factors that opposite-sex couples consider are important, of course, but there are other considerations that are unique to same-sex couples.

Read more here.

December 31, 2015 in Antenuptial (postnuptial) Contracts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

N.Y. Couple Try to Find Triplet Sons Adopted in Kansas in 1972

From NBC News:

A couple forced as teens to give up their triplet sons are on a quest to find them, with the help of social media sleuths.

Cynthia and Brian Bush got married and raised three more children after the 1972 adoption — but never stopped wondering about the three baby boys.

"It's a sense of giving me some closure," Cynthia Bush, 61, said of the search the family launched this month. "I've lived with this for so many years."

The Bushes' daughter, Christina Wilcox, is trying to help her parents be reunited with the triplets by posting details of the birth on Facebook — where it has been shared nearly 5,000 times.

Clues have started pouring in, and the family has already learned that while they thought the boys were adopted together, they actually may have gone to separate homes.

"It sounds corny but I always felt I've had something missing in my life and I wonder if that's what it is," Wilcox said.

Read more here.


December 30, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Judge Stops Missouri From Revoking Abortion License

From ABC News:

A federal judge on Monday blocked the state of Missouri from revoking the abortion license of a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Columbia, saying the state had treated the clinic more harshly than similar institutions and had moved to withdraw the license because of political pressure from some state lawmakers.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey's ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and mid-Missouri after the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in September it would revoke the clinic's abortion license Dec. 1. Laughrey had issued a temporary restraining order, which was scheduled to expire Monday.

The judge's ruling doesn't allow the clinic to immediately resume abortions because it still needs to find a physician who meets state requirement that a doctor must have local hospital admitting privileges to perform abortions there.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and mid-Missouri President and CEO Laura McQuade said the ruling was a "huge victory" for the organization and women seeking abortions, particularly those who do not live near St. Louis, where the only Missouri clinic currently able to provide abortions is located.

"The ruling makes clear that the judicial branch sees this for the political gamesmanship that it is," she said. "We are not talking about health and safety issues, we are talking about making safe and legal abortions a thing of the past ... That's what this always was."


Read more here.

December 29, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 28, 2015

China's First Domestic Violence Law May Include Psychological Harm, Cover Cohabitation

From Shanghai Daily:

CHINA'S first domestic violence law may include emotional or psychological abuse and cover cohabitation in order to bring more traditionally silent abuse victims under protection, a new draft read.

According to the draft, which is up for a second reading at the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee's bimonthly session, "the country prohibits any form of domestic violence."

It defined domestic violence as both physical and psychological harm inflicted between family members, including beatings, injuries, restraint or forcible limits on physical liberty as well as recurring verbal threats and abuse as examples.

An earlier draft, submitted in August this year, included only physical abuse, but many lawmakers have since argued that the definition was far too narrow, said Su Zelin, deputy director with the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee.

They also argued that the anti-domestic violence law should also cover cohabitation, Su said, hence the second draft of the law stipulated in a supplementary article that those who are not related but live together are also subject to the new law.

Family violence has remained in the shadows for a long time in China, where the culture holds that family conflicts are embarrassing private matters. As a result, domestic violence victims are often too embarrassed to speak out, and in many cases, police have turned away victims who came for help.

Only in recent years have people examined the issue in the wake of increasing public awareness and media reports on high-profile abuse scandals.


Read more here.

December 28, 2015 in Cohabitation (live-ins), Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Slovenia Votes Against Same-Sex Marriage and Same-Sex Child Adoption

From New Europe:

Slovenes overwhelmingly voted against same-sex marriage and child adoption. With 90% of votes counted on Sunday’s referendum, same-sex legislation introduced by the government earlier this week was resoundingly defeated by 63-37%.

On Sunday, December 20th, 1,7 million Slovenes went to the polls, in the predominantly Catholic post-Yugoslav Republic.

The Referendum was a reaction to the amendment passed on the marriage and family relations act on March 2015, redefining marriage from “a union between a man and a woman” to the union between “two consenting adults.”

Same-sex couples in Slovenia have rights equivalent to marriage, but the government intended to reintroduce legislation that would allow them to adopt children as well. That was a right already denied to same-sex couples in 2012.

The government abstained from campaigning.

Initially, campaigners managed to gather enough signatures to hold a referendum that would override legislation introduced by the government in March; the government then tried to bloc the referendum, suggesting that a human rights issues are not a matter of majority-minority relations; finally, the Constitutional Court forced the parliament to hold a referendum.

Read more here.

December 27, 2015 in Adoption, Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Support for Legal Abortion at Highest Level in Two Years

From US News and World Report:

Support for legal abortion in the U.S. has edged up to its highest level in the past two years, with an Associated Press-GfK poll showing an apparent increase in support among Democrats and Republicans alike over the last year.

Nearly six in 10 Americans — 58 percent — now think abortion should be legal in most or all cases, up from 51 percent who said so at the beginning of the year, according to the AP-GfK survey. It was conducted after three people were killed last month in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

While support for legal abortion edged up to 40 percent among Republicans in this month's poll, from 35 percent in January, the survey found that the GOP remains deeply divided on the issue: Seven in 10 conservative Republicans said they want abortion to be illegal in most or all cases; six in 10 moderate and liberal Republicans said the opposite.

Read more here.

December 26, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas


December 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Japan's Top Court Rules Married Couples Must Have Same Surname

From The Wall Street Journal:

Japan’s Supreme Court upheld a law dating to the 19th century that requires married couples to have the same surname, rejecting an argument by three women and a married couple that it violates their rights.

The case has drawn wide attention in Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has advocated the advancement of women at companies and government agencies. Wednesday’s ruling means that women who keep using their maiden names in professional situations must continue to cope with extra paperwork and other hassles because their legal names are different.

Japan is one of the few countries that requires married couples to pick either the husband’s or wife’s surname. A United Nations body that seeks to eliminate gender discrimination has repeatedly asked the country to revise its law, but efforts to do so in parliament haven’t gotten far.

“I can’t hold back my tears, I am saddened,” Kyoko Tsukamoto, one of the plaintiffs, said at a news conference following the ruling. “I won’t be able to die as Kyoko Tsukamoto.”

On its face, the law is gender-neutral because a husband could take the surname of his wife. In practice, however, about 96% of couples choose the husband’s surname, according to court papers.

The Supreme Court, upholding lower-court rulings, said the practice of requiring a single surname was well-established in Japan. “We can discern a rational basis for stipulating a single appellation for a family,” the court said.

Read more here.


December 24, 2015 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

UK Court of Appeals Issues Judgment in Internal Child Relocation Cases

From Lexology:

The Court of Appeal has today handed down an important judgment which makes it clear that there is no reason to differentiate between cases of internal child relocation (within the UK) and those of external or international relocation (outside the UK). In this case of Re C (Internal Relocation), child relocation specialist Anna Worwood of Penningtons Manches LLP acted for the appellant father (instructing Charles Hale QC). The father's appeal generated a necessary consideration of the proper principles to be applied in cases involving internal relocation, including full submissions made by the intervenors, the International Centre for Family Law, Policy and Practice.

The judgment explains that it is the welfare principle in section 1(1) of the Children Act 1989 which should dictate the result in internal relocation cases as it is now clear it does in external relocation cases. The 'exceptionality test', namely that a parent seeking to relocate within the UK should only be prevented from relocating in exceptional circumstances, should not have been taken to be binding legal principle. Lady Justice Black, giving the leading judgment, concluded her analysis of the law by saying: “All in all … matters should be approached as an analysis of the best interests of the child, whether the relocation is internal or external.” 

Importantly, the comments made by Lord Justice McFarlane in the recent Court of Appeal decision ofRe F (International Relocation Cases) [2015] Civ 882, were echoed by Lord Justice Vos who held that the application of the welfare principle involves a holistic balancing exercise; whilst the Payne factors may still be of some utility, they are no part of the applicable principle. 

Read more here.

December 23, 2015 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Divorce Impacts Felt Into Adulthood

From Penn State News:

Divorce can have a multitude of short-term negative effects on children, including anxiety, anger, shock and disbelief. New Penn State research indicates parental divorce can have long-lasting impacts and even influence the health of adult children.

According to Jason Thomas, assistant professor of sociology and demography, decades of research shows that parental divorce can negatively impact outcomes from early childhood. However, little study has been done on the timing of parental divorce and its effects on adult health.

“I’ve always been interested in health and longevity and how early adversities or advantages changes pathways to adult health outcomes. Divorce is just another early experience for us to examine,” Thomas explained.

Thomas and his research team used data from the National Child Development Study, which follows the lives of 17,000 people born in England, Scotland and Wales in a single week of 1958. Also known as the 1958 Birth Cohort Study, it collected information such as physical and educational development, economic circumstances, employment, family life, health and wellbeing through the age of 50.

He found that individuals in the study who experienced a parental divorce before age seven had poorer health at age 50. “I had assumed younger children would have more adverse health affects as adults, but earlier research was mixed,” said Thomas.

Read more here.

December 22, 2015 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Men More Likely To Take Paternity Leave for Son, Research Says

From NBC News:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced recently that he would be taking two months off when his daughter is born. We don't know when his wife, Priscilla Chan, is due, but the announcement prompted an immediate discussion of paternity leave and parental benefits.

It turns out Zuckerberg isn't the type of Californian who normally takes paternity leave. Newly published research suggests that men are more likely to take time off when they're having a boy than a girl. They are also more likely to take time off when they work in female-dominated occupations (which tech is most certainly not).

California is one of only three states that has legislation providing paid family leave for all full-time employees. In fact, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that doesn't have a national paid family leave policy.

A team of professors from Columbia University, the University of California-Santa Barbara and the University of Virginia used data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey to study the effects of California's Paid Family Leave program (CA-PFL) on parents' decision to take time off when their children are born. The law was passed in 2002 and took effect in 2004.

The data show that men were 46 percent more likely to take paid parental leave in the first year of their child's life when CA-PFL was made available. That's a big relative gain, but in absolute terms there is a long way to go — the law boosted paternity leave to 2.9 percent from 2.0 percent.

Read more here.


December 21, 2015 in Paternity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Mandatory Early Retirements and Effect of Post-Divorce Matters

From The National Law Review:

This might come as a surprise, but an individual’s retirement often has a significant effect on post-divorce matters. For example, if the supporting spouse retires, this may lead to a modification of alimony payments that he or she is required to pay the dependent spouse. The criteria for modification in the event of retirement are the following: whether the retirement is permanent or temporary, whether the initial divorce agreement had considerations for retirement, the inability to maintain he or she’s same standard of living once retired, and balancing the needs of the alimony recipient and the supporting spouse.

However, there are certain professions that have mandatory early retirement ages. For example, state troopers in New Jersey are required to retire at 55 years old, whereas the national retirement age is 67.

The court in Lepis v. Lepis established a three-prong analysis permitting a party to modify their alimony obligations when a substantial change is circumstances is shown. These factors include: establishing a prima facie case; showing that the party will be unable to maintain their standard of living; and, weighting the needs of the alimony recipient and supporting spouse’s ability to pay.

Read more here.

December 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Untangling Knots: Bankruptcy and Divorce

From The National Law Review:

Bankruptcy is the legal process by which the debt of the party filing for bankruptcy is discharged, thereby absolving a party of a portion of their debt. Unfortunately, the bankruptcy process is not as simple as it sounds, and it can be further complicated when the parties—or an individual—are in the middle of a divorce or considering a divorce.

As a result of this, family law clients often ask whether they should file for divorce or bankruptcy first. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer, as every divorce and every bankruptcy filing is unique. However, there are a variety of factors one can consider when deciding this question.

If one party has significant debt, but the other party makes a substantial income, it will be difficult to qualify to file a joint Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is because the court will have to consider the total household income when determining whether or not to grant the bankruptcy petition. In this case, it is likely more beneficial to file for divorce prior to filing bankruptcy so that the household income is not considered in the bankruptcy petition.

Filing for joint bankruptcy is not possible unless both spouses consent to the filing. One spouse cannot force the other to file, even during a divorce proceeding. However, the party who wants to file for bankruptcy may still be eligible to do so individually, but filing individually will not discharge the debts of the other party. Therefore, it may be advisable to file for bankruptcy before the divorce so that both parties’ debt may be discharge before the divorce proceedings begin.

Read more here.

December 19, 2015 in Bankruptcy, Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Betting on Marriage

From Washington Post:

A new startup in Seattle will fund your wedding. Up to $10,000. Even the nacho cheese fondue fountain. The catch: If your union crumbles, at six months or 25 years, you must pay them back — with interest.

Swanluv will review your relationship and set an interest rate based on your compatibility. Co-founder Scott Avy won’t reveal the couple-selection criteria or the interest range. He said simply that the number “won’t be too crazy.”

But Swanluv, he said, won’t directly profit from heartbreak. Cash from divorces — and there will be divorces — will cover someone else’s future nuptials. Avy said he plans to sell advertisements to generate revenue, although he wouldn't say what kind or to whom.

Swanluv’s sustained growth, as the business model apparently stands now, depends on a whole lot of lovers breaking up.

Read more here.

Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

December 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dating & Heart Donations

From BBC:

The NHS has partnered with dating app Tinder to raise awareness about organ donations.

The app is used to find people a good personality match but for the next fortnight it will also encourage users to become a donor.

People who swipe on some pictures on the app will be encouraged to sign up to the NHS organ donor register.

The NHS said that it wants more younger people to join its campaign.

Read more here.

December 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Call for Papers

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning has issued a Call for Proposals for its Summer 2016 conference on Real-World Readiness, see it here.

December 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What Impact Will A Child Custody Expert Have On A Case?


In some child custody cases, a child custody expert (CCE) makes a recommendation to the court on what they believe the court’s final determination should be. The recommendations can range from custody and visitation to therapy recommendations. These recommendations are made after the CCE conducts interviews with the parents, the minor child, and any other interested parties in the case. It is important for a child who is meeting with a CCE to be as open as possible with the CCE. The CCE’s final written recommendation to the court is made in the child’s best interest.

A CCE’s purpose in conducting these interviews is to understand as much about the family dynamics as possible. Information gathered by a CCE from the parents, the child, and other parties during interviews is not confidential. Both parties can use the information acquired by the CCE. Additionally, the CCE is subject to examination and cross-examination during a trial.

It is natural for parents to be nervous when meeting with a CCE. It is in the best interest of the child for parents to present the facts of the case truthfully.

Read more here.

December 15, 2015 in Resources - Child Custody | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Abortion "Dismemberment" Ban Set For Unusual Court Hearing

From The Washington Times:

A first-in-the-nation Kansas abortion law is scheduled to go before all 14 state appellate judges Wednesday — an unusual step that reflects the gravity of the lawsuit, the state says.

The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act was enacted in Kansas in April. It prohibits, in most cases, use of a certain abortion method — dilation and evacuation, or D&E — that is commonly used between 12 and 22 weeks gestation.

In a D&E, abortion doctors use specific instruments to slice, crush and pull apart a living fetus so that it can be extracted from the woman’s womb.

Lawmakers took action against the “brutal” D&E procedure, saying the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 Gonzales v. Carhart ruling says states have a legitimate interest in regulating the medical profession to promote respect for life, including the life of the unborn.

The Kansas dismemberment law has several exemptions: It does not affect abortions that are performed only with suction, cases in which cutting tools are needed to remove a dead fetus from the womb or cases in which continuing the pregnancy could severely injure or kill the pregnant woman.

Read more here.

December 14, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

144 Years of Marriage and Divorce

From The Washington Post:

We often hear that marriage rates in the U.S. are declining. But what do trends in marriage and divorce really look like over the long run, and why?

In a new post, data tinkerer Randy Olson provides some clarity on those trends by pain-stakingly assembling and analyzing data on marriage and divorce rates going back to before 1870 from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

First, you can see that the common generalizations are true. As the chart shows, marriage rates have declined steadily since the 1980s. Today they are lower than any other time since 1870, including during the Great Depression. However, divorce rates today are actually slightly down compared with the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s on a per capita basis.

In addition, you can see that events like World War I, World War II and the Great Depression all had a significant impact on marriage and divorce rates.

Couples rushed to the altar before the wars started, as well as at their conclusion. As Olson notes, divorces also spiked after the conclusion of WWII, perhaps because some couples who had married rashly before the war realized their differences.

Read more here.

December 13, 2015 in Divorce (grounds), Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Call for Student Papers

Law Students for Reproductive Justice, in collaboration with the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law School, is pleased to announce the Call for Submission for the eleventh annual Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights. 
This year, the Sarah Weddington Writing Prize’s suggested theme is “Restoring Public Insurance Coverage for Abortion,” with a focus on the Hyde Amendment and Harris v. McRae (1980). However, submissions on other topics will also be accepted. For more information, please download the 2016 Call for Submissions: 
The deadline for submission is Monday, January 18, 2016. 
Winning authors will receive cash prizes: $750 (first place), $500 (second place), or $250 (third place).  Additionally, each winning author will receive a copy of the newly released casebook, Melissa Murray and Kristin Luker’s Cases on Reproductive Rights and Justice. The first place winner will also have a chance at publication with the NYU Review of Law and Social Change.

December 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)