Sunday, January 31, 2016
From Springfield News-Leader:
Cindy Dennis, author of child abuse prevention books, is creating the Give A Child A Voice Foundation.
By forming a nonprofit foundation, Dennis said she hopes to reach more children, parents, grandparents, foster parents and educators. As a foundation, she will be in a better position to raise funds and apply for grants. And she can get cheaper "nonprofit" publishing rates.
The Springfield mom presented her plans Wednesday at the 1 Million Cups meeting, where entrepreneurs pitch their business concepts to an audience.
"Our objective is to reduce and eventually end all forms of child abuse, neglect and molestation," she told the audience. "We will achieve this by teaching kids to stand up for themselves, be vigilant and become a crusader for their own well-being."
"Children will learn that their bodies are sacred and no one has a right to victimize them. They will learn tactics and strategies that can lead to prevention."
Dennis said as the foundation raises money, she will be able to create a high-quality video "that is engaging to children with animation and songs." Dennis also wants to distribute the book "Friend Manual" to kindergarten through third-grade classes, preschools and churches. "Friend Manual" teaches kids about safety, the difference between good secrets and bad secrets, and what to do if a stranger approaches or tries to grab them.
Read more here.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
From New York Times:
Prosecutors in Harris County said one of the leaders of the Center for Medical Progress — an anti-abortion group that made secretly recorded videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue — had been indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony, and on a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.
That leader, David R. Daleiden, 27, the director of the center, had posed as a biotechnology representative to infiltrate Planned Parenthood affiliates and surreptitiously record his efforts to procure tissue for research. Another center employee, Sandra S. Merritt, 62, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record.
The record-tampering charges accused Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt of making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses, with the intent to defraud, for their April meeting at Planned Parenthood in Houston.
Abortion opponents claimed that the videos, which were released starting in July, revealed that Planned Parenthood was engaged in the illegal sale of body parts — a charge that the organization has denied and that has not been supported in numerous congressional and state investigations triggered by the release of the videos.
On Monday, the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, said in a statement that grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.
Read more here.
Friday, January 29, 2016
From Indiana Lawyer:
Fifteen years after Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), grandparent visitation is alive and well in Indiana and across the country. In Troxel, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor noted, “The demographic changes of the past century make it difficult to speak of an average American family. The composition of families varies greatly from household to household.” Indeed, the last 15 years have only enhanced this sentiment. Given continued high levels of divorce and out-of-wedlock births, the role of grandparents continues to be an important source of stability in some families. Thus, in 2015, grandparent visitation made several appearances on the Indiana court dockets.
In one such case, In re the Visitation of L-A.D.W. R.W. v. M.D. and W.D., 38 N.E.3d 993 (Ind. 2015), a child’s maternal grandparents filed for visitation under the Grandparent Visitation Act after their relationship with the child’s father became contentious. Their daughter had recently died of cancer and expressed her wishes in her will for them to have generous visitation with her child. Based on the opinion of mental health experts, the trial court determined that it was in the child’s best interest to have a meaningful and ongoing relationship with grandparents, with visitation totaling approximately 79 days per year. While noting the lack of guidance regarding the proper amount for grandparent visitation, the Court of Appeals determined that 79 days was improper under the Grandparent Visitation Act because it was too significant and resembled the parenting time a non-custodial parent would have in such a case. However, after reviewing the circumstances of this particular case – including the closeness of the child to the maternal grandparents due to the father’s demanding work schedule – the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s order of visitation.
In another grandparent visitation case, Jocham v. Sutliff, 26 N.E.3d 82 (Ind. Ct. App. 2015), the Indiana Court of Appeals determined that a grandmother was no longer a “grandparent” with standing to seek visitation under the grandparent visitation statute at the time she filed the petition because the stepparent already had adopted the child. The court held that “visitation rights,” as referenced in the grandparent visitation statute, refer to already-established visitation rights at the time of the stepparent adoption, rather than the right to seek visitation in the future.
Read more here.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Divorces are skyrocketing for people in their 50s and 60s. Between 1990 and 2012, the number of divorces among people 55 to 64 more than doubled and tripled for those 65 and older, according to a study by Susan Brown, I-Fen Lin and Krista Payne of Bowling Green State University.
On top of the personal pain, divorcing spouses often face extraordinary financial pain.
As the Bowling Green researchers’ report, Marital Biography, Social Security and Poverty, noted: “Those who divorce earlier in adulthood have more time to recoup the financial losses divorce usually entails. In contrast, those who divorce later have fewer years of working life remaining and may not be able to fully recover economically from a gray divorce.”
Said Christine van Cauwenberghe, assistant vice president of tax and estate planning with the Investors Group financial advisory firm in Winnipeg, Manitoba: “Going through a divorce can be difficult at any age, but older couples face unique challenges in retirement planning as a result of later-in-life separations.”
Van Cauwenberghe added that because divorce is an emotional process, it “can cloud your ability to make sound financial decisions that will ultimately affect your future.”
That’s why, if you’re divorcing in your 50s or 60s, it’s crucial to reassess your financial plan to ensure that it reflects your new direction in life.
Although the freedom divorce offers may be refreshing, the danger in becoming single at a later age is being one step closer to retirement without a partner and potentially with half the income.
Read more here.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
From The Catholic World Report:
In his annual speech to the Holy See's main court on Friday, Pope Francis affirmed the indissolubility of marriage and clarified that poorly developed “personal faith” is not itself a grounds for finding that a marriage is null.
“It should be clearly affirmed that the quality of faith is not an essential condition for matrimonial consent,” the Pope said in his Jan. 22 address to the judges of the Roman Rota at the Vatican's Clementine Hall.
Consent – the typical basis for a tribunal investigating the validity of a marriage – “according to the longstanding doctrine, can be undermined only at a natural level,” Pope Francis reminded the judges.
“Indeed, the habitus fidei (habit of faith) is infused in the moment of Baptism and continues to flow mysteriously into the soul, even when the faith is not developed or psychologically appears to be absent.”
He added that “it is not unusual for newlyweds, drawn to marriage by the instinctus naturae, at the moment of celebration have a limited awareness of the fullness of God's plan, and only later, in family life, discover all that God the Creator and Redeemer has established for them.”
“The lack of formation in faith and also an error regarding the unity, indissolubility and sacramental dignity of marriage may vitiate matrimonial consent only if they determine the will. It is precisely for this reason that errors regarding the sacramental nature of marriage must be evaluated very carefully.”
Read more here.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Andrea Beauchamp Carroll (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Paul M. Hebert Law Center) & Christopher K. Odinet (Southern University Law Center) have posted their article Gay Marriage and the Problem of Property, Washington University Law Review Commentaries (Spring 2016, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision in Obergefell has been hailed in almost all corners as a milestone in American jurisprudence. From topics as varied as adoption and taxes, a myriad of rights have now descended upon gay couples as a result of the Court’s ruling. In this Essay we explore the little discussed downsides of the decision when it comes to the property rights and debts of the spouses. This is particularly important when considering the rights of third parties and their settled expectations in the context of retroactivity, as well the ways in which the Court’s decision may have the undesirable affect of undoing the carefully laid plans of the spouses. We conclude that courts and legislatures have by no means seen the end of the gay marriage debate. Rather, a host of unforeseen collateral issues lie on the horizon.
Last fall—before the Center for Medical Progress released its video attack on Planned Parenthood, before Cecile Richards testified before Congress, before Congress voted to defund the health care organization—I was in India, watching a woman have an abortion.
The woman — I’ll call her Meena — was having a safe, legal procedure in a hospital, performed by a trained provider. Even so, this was not what abortion looks like in the United States, where clinics across the country strive to provide environments that are comforting and welcoming while also bright, clean and safe. The room in a public hospital was bare-bones; after the abortion was complete, Meena stood up and walked herself to the recovery room, which contained a thin mattress on a metal bed frame. There was none of what you’d see at American clinics: hand-holding, inspirational feminist quotes painted on the walls, cozy reclining chairs.
Still, Meena was comparatively lucky. Despite the fact that abortion is legal in India, safe and regulated procedures are less common than you might think. According to some studies, a woman dies every two hours here from an unsafe abortion.
“So many women were coming with perforation of the uterus or having incomplete abortion with severe hemorrhage,” Dr. Madhubula Chouhan, a professor and veteran OB/GYN who trains Indian doctors in abortion care, told me. “So many patients died because of unsafe abortion.”
Of all the women injured by clandestine abortions she saw in decades of OB/GYN care, I ask Dr. Chouhan, are there any particular stories that stand out? She pauses.
“So many, so many,” she says. “I’ve seen so many I can’t even remember.”
Read more here.
Monday, January 25, 2016
Getting divorced has a significant impact on your finances — and some missteps can make it even more costly.
Divorce is an issue plenty of Americans will find themselves navigating. In 2014, divorces and annulments occurred at a rate of 3.2 per 1,000 people, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control. At least anecdotally, lawyers say, the number of filings and proceedings initiated tends to pick up in January — leading to the nickname Divorce Month.
"We definitely see an uptick," said Joslin Davis, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. "People just really don't want to do anything during the holidays — for emotional reasons, primarily." The new year seems like the ideal time for a fresh start, she said.
As much as you might want to get the process over with as soon as possible, moving quickly through a divorce can be a mistake. Take time to consult with a financial advisor and accountant, as well as your attorney.
"There are a lot of financial 'gotcha' nuances that people aren't aware of, because they aren't your day-to-day," said certified public accountant Tracy Stewart, a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' personal financial planning executive committee.
"Everything matters in a divorce," she said. "Pay attention."
Moves made without due consideration could mean you give up more than you need to or don't get your fair share. Worse, some aren't fixable, or they initiate a domino effect of problems — like an acquaintance of Stewart's who (without asking for professional advice first) dipped into his IRA early to pay off joint debt during his divorce. Not only did that affect his retirement prospects, but it also more immediately triggered penalties and a taxable-income increase that phased him out of valuable deductions.
Read more here.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A stepfather who sought legal and physical custody of his ex-wife's children can be liable for child support, the state Supreme Court has ruled.
The Supreme Court ruled on a 3-1 vote last week in A.S. v. I.S. that when a stepparent takes aggressive legal steps toward assuming the same parental rights as the child's biological parent, the stepparent assumes parental obligations.
Justice Max Baer, who wrote the majority's opinion, said a parent's in loco parentis status — meaning he or she assumed parental obligations without going through legal adoption — doesn't create a child support obligation.
“Here, we have a stepfather who hauled a fit parent into court, repeatedly litigating to achieve the same legal and physical custodial rights as would naturally accrue to a biological parent,” Justice Baer said, adding “this is not the ‘typical case’ of a stepparent” who wants a post-separation relationship with the children.
The decision reversed both the trial court's ruling that the stepfather should not owe child support and the Superior Court's affirming decision.
Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor issued a dissenting opinion arguing there was an insufficient record in the case because the trial court dismissed the mother's complaint for child support at the pleadings stage.
Read more here.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
From New York Times:
After Benedetta, 35, found out 11 weeks into her pregnancy that the baby she wanted “with all myself” had extremely serious genetic problems, she made a painful decision, and asked her longtime gynecologist for an abortion.
Her doctor’s refusal — she said she was a conscientious objector to Italy’s law that makes abortion legal up to 90 days — set off a desperate scramble to find a doctor who would help her.
At one hospital, doctors advised her to get a psychiatrist’s note saying she had threatened to kill herself, so that she could extend the legal time limit. At another, a doctor suggested that she just wait.
‘The fetus is incompatible with life; you will very likely lose it anyway past the 20th week’ — that’s what this doctor told me,” Benedetta said, still angry and incredulous. She asked that her last name not be used to protect her privacy. “To expect a woman to see her belly growing, to raise a doomed life, is inhumane.”
“I felt like a container, not a human being,” she added.
After a fight that feminists in Italy still consider a signal achievement, abortion within 90 days of pregnancy — and later for women in mental or physical danger, or in cases of serious fetal pathologies — has been legal in this country for over three decades.
But that does not mean that finding a doctor to perform one is easy. Seventy percent of gynecologists — up to 83 percent in some conservative southern regions — are conscientious objectors to the law, and do not perform abortions for religious or personal reasons in a country that remains, culturally at least, overwhelmingly Catholic.
Read more here.
Friday, January 22, 2016
From the Washington Post:
It has been long understood that marriage provided more emotional health benefits than cohabiting or dating. But that’s showing signs of shifting.
Young people are choosing to live with their significant others before, or instead of, getting hitched. For “emerging adults,” or those in their 20s, cohabitation may offer the same emotional health benefits as marriage, according to a recent study published by the Journal of Family Psychology.
Using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, Sara E. Mernitz and Claire Kamp Dush from Ohio State University looked at what happens when young people cohabitate, transition into marriage or progress from a first to second cohabitation — and how men and women experience these changes differently.
Read more here.
Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn
From Yahoo News:
Thousands braved bitter cold temperatures for a "March for Life" in downtown Chicago on Sunday, five days before the 43rd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.
Demonstrators held yellow balloons with "life" printed on them as organizers passed around rosary beads and others danced to music to keep warm in temperatures that hovered just above 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius).
"This is about the soul of our nation that we gathered here today," Archbishop Blase Cupich of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, told a crowd that organizers said numbered about 5,000. "As we bundle up in the cold today, we want to make sure the children are also born into a world that warmly welcomes them."
Many states have imposed new restrictions on abortion in recent years, some of which have been challenged in court.
In its first abortion case since 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule by late June on a Texas abortion law imposing restrictions on clinics and physicians that conduct abortions, which critics say is intended to limit abortion access.
The Chicago march, now in its third year, offers a Midwest alternative for those unable to attend the larger march held in Washington, D.C. every Jan. 22, said Emily Zender, president of March for Life Chicago.
Read more here.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
From San Jose Mercury News:
Accusing the county of betraying their trust, a San Rafael couple has filed suit, claiming adoption fraud in which they said the county intentionally misled them into adopting a disturbed child who may require around-the-clock care.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Janet and Simon Boddington alleges a county worker withheld an investigator's report that raised red flags and did not disclose why another family had abandoned guardianship of the child.
The suit accuses the county of coming up with a "match" for the couple just as the two were considering abandoning adoption plans after turning down scores of prospects they feared would not be a good fit. The Boddingtons, who had already raised five children, said they had an agreement with the county that noted they would not accept a child with severe psychological problems.
The child, adopted six year ago, is now 14 and so unmanageable he cannot be left unsupervised and lives at a residential facility during the week, coming home on weekends.
County lawyers declined comment on the lawsuit, noting strict statutes compel absolute confidentiality in the case involving adoption, child welfare and medical records.
Kimberly Contreras, a county adoption worker named in the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment.
Read more here.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
From The Indiana Lawyer:
Each year, millions of married couples with children file for divorce. While divorce can be trying on everyone involved, there are particular challenges for parents who have children with disabilities. Overall, most researchers have found that parents of children with disabilities are much likelier to divorce. A child with a disability has multiple needs that often require parents to learn about and deal with multiple third-party providers, including but not limited to schools, specialists, doctors and therapists. These parents are often faced with significant expenses that parents of typical children never have to consider. Therefore, when deciding child custody in a situation involving a child with special needs, it is important for the courts, parents and attorneys to consider how these situations differ from families that do not have children with disabilities.
Child custody issues for parents of special-needs children require careful consideration. Indiana law bestows different legal rights to parents depending on whether they have physical or legal custody of their child.
In Indiana, the parent with legal custody has the authority to make decisions in three main categories: major medical decisions, educational decisions and decisions regarding the child’s religion. Parents can have joint legal custody, or one parent can have sole legal custody. Legal custody becomes even more significant when a child has a disability, as there are a multitude of medical and educational decisions that will need to be made by the child’s legal custodian, sometimes on short notice.
When determining legal custody for a child with special needs, it is important to consider the frequency in the selection of doctors, specialists or evaluators as well as the frequency of required medical care and expenses – and each parent’s availability to facilitate the same. Additional considerations for the legal custodian include the potential placement of the child into specialized programs or the need for special education services in the child’s school.
Read more here.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
From NBC News:
Deadbeat dads in Arizona, beware. Your mug could be plastered all over social media for the world to see.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey this week launched a campaign to crack down on "the worst of the worst" parents who are ignoring child support payments, posting their names and photos to Twitter and Facebook. The hope is that the public shaming will make some of them pay up and give other dads (and moms) second thoughts about evading child support.
Ducey, a father of three, called out "deadbeat dads" in his State of the Union address on Monday, saying he was troubled by the high number of vulnerable children in Arizona.
"For too long, you've been able to remain anonymous — able to skirt your financial and legal responsibilities with no shame. Not anymore," the governor proclaimed. Effective immediately, he said, the state would begin posting the photos, names and money owed by "these losers" to social media, with the hashtag #deadbeat.
Read more here.
Monday, January 18, 2016
Jeffrey A. Parness (Northern Illinois University - College of Law) has posted Challenges in Handling Imprecise Parentage Matters, 28 Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 401 (2015) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Legal parentage under American state laws is significantly and rapidly evolving. And, it is increasingly imprecise. No longer is legal parentage only defined at precise moments in time or for particular conduct, as by giving birth, having biological ties, marriage to the birth mother at time of conception or birth, name placement on a birth certificate, or formal adoption. Both men and women can now become legal parents, as through de facto parenthood or equitable adoption, where neither the time of the relevant conduct nor the conduct prompting parentage can be precisely determined. Because legal parentage increasingly depends upon fluid and imprecise doctrines, lawyers and judges must be vigilant in handling legal disputes implicating parentage.
Together with the growing phenomenon of imprecise legal parentage, lawyers and judges are also challenged because an established legal parentage in one setting often is inapplicable in other settings. Parentage under law is frequently contextual. Thus, a father for child support purposes often is not a father for childcare purposes.
Further, lawyers and judges are now challenged both in proceedings first establishing and later overriding legal parentage. Legal parentage increasingly can be overridden via imprecise norms, including standards on waivers, forfeitures, rebuttals, and rescissions. The numbers of disestablished parents are growing due to reliable and inexpensive genetic testing, births during marriage resulting from adultery, and greater use of assisted reproduction.
Moreover, lawyers and judges investigating both the establishment and disestablishment of legal parentage are challenged due to significant interstate variations. As one distinguished commentator observed: “The relative importance of biology, intent, contract, and parental function varies tremendously by jurisdiction and even by case, adding confusion and unpredictability to a determination of critical importance.” Because parents and their children are quite mobile, in resolving parentage disputes, choices increasingly must be made between competing and quite different imprecise American state parentage laws.
This article examines the challenges for lawyers and judges investigating parentage. First, it will survey varying American state imprecise parentage laws. Then, it will examine the investigative norms guiding parentage inquiries. In conclusion, it will review the possible results of failed inquiries and offer suggestions to lawyers and judges who must contend with an array of differing fluid, imprecise, and contextual American state parentage laws.
Biological anthropologists look at skeletal remains of past cultures to gain insight into how earlier peoples lived, and forensic anthropologists work with modern-day law enforcement to decipher skeletal evidence and solve crimes. Forensic experts at North Carolina State University have now published guidance on how research into modern-day forensic analysis of child-abuse victims can be used to shed light on how children of earlier cultures were treated.
"Unfortunately, we have a lot of experience in studying the skeletal remains of children in criminal investigations to determine how they were treated and how they died," says Ann Ross, a professor of anthropology at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the work. "We can use what we've learned in modern populations to provide insight into the behavior of historic and prehistoric populations - particularly in regard to child labor, child abuse and child murder."
The skeletons of children are vastly different from those of adults; they're not just smaller. In their paper, the researchers draw on decades of research to explain how the biomechanics and healing of child skeletons change, depending on the child's age.
The researchers pay particular attention to how anthropologists can differentiate between accidental and intentional injuries in children.
"For example, some combinations of injuries are highly indicative of abuse, such as multiple rib fractures at different stages of healing," Ross says. "That's a red flag."
The researchers also include a modern-day case study as an example of how difficult it can be to interpret the skeletal evidence. In this case, what first looked like a case of physical abuse turned out to be a case of child neglect - with some of the skeletal abnormalities being caused by rickets and scurvy.
Read more here.
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Thursday against the anti-abortion activists who secretly taped the group's officials talking about the sale of fetal tissue and released the heavily edited videos last year.
The videos sparked a political firestorm in Washington, with Republican lawmakers accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale and trying unsuccessfully to strip the group of federal funding.
Since the videos began surfacing in July, Planned Parenthood officials have maintained that the group does not profit from its sale of tissue donations to medical research and uses any money received to cover its costs.
And on Thursday, the group said it was going on the offensive against the group who produced the videos, The Center for Medical Progress.
"We are filing this lawsuit to hold accountable the people behind this reckless and malicious smear campaign that was designed only to spread lies about Planned Parenthood," Kathy Kneer, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California told reporters in a conference call.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in San Francisco, alleges that the defendants set up a bogus tissue procurement company and used fake corporate and personal identities to lie their way into private meetings that they illegally taped.
Read more here.
Saturday, January 16, 2016
From The Telegraph:
A new incentive was launched in Sweden this week encouraging fathers to take three months paid paternity leave. Like several European countries, Sweden has a ‘daddy quota’ of paid time off that’s allocated to couples as a unit, but only allowed to be taken by the father and therefore lost if he chooses not to take it. The new 30-day extension, which came into force on January 1, follows a successful increase to two months in 2002.
It's a policy designed to ensure men take more of the childcare burden, and the latest change is expected to be embraced by fathers in Sweden, which was the first to introduce gender-indifferent parental leave in 1974. Already, men there take an average of three months off work to look after their newborns; in Britain less than 10% exceed the statutory two weeks, often citing a fear of falling behind in the rat race.
Currently UK fathers are eligible to take one or two weeks paid leaveany time within 56 days of the birth. As a result of changes championed by Nick Clegg in 2014, there is also an option of taking between two and 26 additional weeks off, with each extra week subtracted from your partner's remaining allocation.
The Scandinavian stances on parental leave – as with so many other social policies – may make the UK's seem staid and imbalanced, then, but how do our rights compare with fathers around the world?
Read more here.
Friday, January 15, 2016
From ABA Journal:
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage does not make commitment ceremonies into marriages under New York law, an appeals court there ruled Tuesday.
According to the New York Law Journal, the state court system’s Appellate Division, First Department, ruled in Estate of Mauricio Leyton that Leyton’s 2002 commitment ceremony with David Hunter did not qualify as a marriage under state law. Leyton died in 2013.
The ruling means that Hunter is not disinherited even though he and Leyton split in 2010. Leyton’s 2001 will named Hunter as a 50 percent beneficiary and executor, and he never changed it after the breakup. Leyton’s mother would have inherited the entire estate if Hunter had been disinherited. Leyton’s sister brought the case on behalf of her mother.
State law provides that a former spouse is disinherited if a divorce takes place after a will is executed. But the court said state law requires the divorce to be effected by judicial decree. Though same-sex marriage was legalized in New York in 2011, the appellate court said, the couple made no effort to have their split recognized as a divorce. And the separation itself was not marked with any sort of ceremony.
Read more here.