Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Minnesota's 5-Day Wait For Marriage License Could End

From MPRNews:

Minnesota's five-day wait for a marriage license, a law which dates back to the Great Depression, could soon be a thing of the past.

The state is only one of two that make couples wait so long between applying for a license and receiving one. The only way to avoid the wait in Minnesota is to get a judge to sign a waiver.

Hennepin County auditor and treasurer Mark Chapin said the law first appeared in Minnesota in 1931, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

"During the Great Depression, there was a lot of concern about whether people could support each other and support their children," Chapin said. The wait may have given the engaged enough pause to confirm that support.

Supporters of the change contend the five-day wait is inconvenient for couples, counties and the judiciary. They point out that it doesn't take counties five days to prepare the license, and that the waiting period means couples either return to the licensing office five days later to pick up their marriage license or have it mailed to them, which requires extra staff time.

"We believe the waiting period is burdensome," Chapin told state senators in late March.

Most couples asking for a waiver in Hennepin County did not know about the wait or did not want to wait, Chapin said. The judges always sign off on the waiver.

Read more here.

April 30, 2016 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Breger: "Healing Sex-Trafficked Children: A Domestic Family Law Approach to an International Epidemic"

Melissa L. Breger has recently posted to SSRN her article Healing Sex-Trafficked Children: A Domestic Family Law Approach to an International Epidemic, 118 W. Va. L. Rev. 1131 (2016).   Here is the abstract:

Children who have been trafficked into and within the United States for commercial sexual exploitation endure significant psychological and physical trauma. Because there is a salient nexus between the inherent violence of trafficking and that of family violence and childhood sexual abuse, this Article explores how the United States might assist victimized children by utilizing governmental systems that are already in existence. Specifically, the therapeutic foster care (“TFC”) model is an established model of care that is flexible enough to meet the numerous and complicated issues associated with the reintegration and treatment needs of child sex-trafficking survivors. This Article recommends that TFC be adapted and expanded to heal sex-trafficked children in a safe, nurturing, and culturally competent manner. Particularly in tandem with specialized programs or non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”), the TFC model may be another avenue in healing the sex-trafficked children within our borders.

April 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Conservative on Divorce

From the Washington Post:

Contrary to popular belief, marriage isn’t dead. It’s not even dying.

The institution is probably more respected and admired than ever before — just not in a way that encourages millennials to partake in it.

You can see this in national survey data, recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about Americans’ views of various family arrangements.

At first glance the report suggests that Americans may indeed be less devoted to the sacrosanctity of marriage — or at least that we’ve become more tolerant of once-stigmatized non-marital sexual behaviors . In 2002, for example, slightly more than 6 in 10 Americans said they thought it was okay for a young couple to live together without being married. By 2011-2013, the period of the most recent survey, the share had jumped to more than 7 in 10.

Similarly, the report finds that Americans have gotten more accepting of women who bear and raise children out of wedlock, of unmarried 18-year-old couples who decide to have sex and of same-sex couples who adopt children.

On these and other familial and procreative arrangements, Americans have become measurably more liberal. But on one crucial measure, they have become much more conservative.

That measure is divorce.

Read more here.

April 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Position Announcement: Executive Director of the Family and Youth Law Center

Position Announcement: Executive Director of the Family and Youth Law Center
The Family and Youth Law Center at Capital University Law School seeks a dynamic and forward-looking individual to lead the Center's array of child welfare and juvenile justice programming. 
The Family and Youth Law Center at Capital University Law School (FYLaw) works within child welfare, adoption, and juvenile justice systems to support positive outcomes for children, youth, and families.  Established in 1998 as the National Center for Adoption Law & Policy, FYLaw  partners with local, state, and national agencies and organizations in collaborations aimed at improving the laws, policies, and practices associated with child protection, adoption, and juvenile justice systems. 
Over the past few years, FYLaw has expanded the services it provides beyond advocacy, training, and education to include direct representation of systems-involved youth. FYLaw launched the Foster Youth Advocacy Center (FYAC) to provide civil legal services to young adults transitioning out of the child welfare system.  This year, FYAC expanded its operation to offer these services to families at risk of systems involvement. 
In each of these initiatives, FYLaw partners with Capital University and Capital University Law School to help provide experiential and service learning opportunities to law and social work students interested in working in child welfare and other related fields. FYLaw's student-oriented programming includes a national moot court competition, a fellowship program, externships, and pro bono opportunities.   
Qualifications for the position include a law degree; Ohio bar admission is strongly preferred. The ideal candidate will have 8-10 years of child welfare and/or juvenile law experience, with both practice and administrative experience strongly preferred. Applications will be accepted until May 16, 2016.  The position start date is July 1, 2016.  For additional information on the position and how to apply, please visit the Human Resource website.


April 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Australian Mother Released on Bail in Lebanon After Being Caught in Child Custody Battle

From Fox News:

An Australian mother and TV crew caught up in a high-profile child custody battle and detained in Beirut amid a botched attempt to take the woman's two children from their Lebanese father were released on bail on Wednesday.

Ali al-Amin, the father of the two children, ages 3 and 5, said he dropped attempted kidnapping charges against his estranged Australian wife Sally Faulkner and the Channel 9 TV crew, because he "didn't want the kids to think I was keeping their mother in jail."

Faulkner and the four-person TV crew, led by prominent Australian TV journalist Tara Brown, hugged each other outside a jail in Baabda, a Beirut suburb, before they were driven off in a white minivan. They were escorted by an Australian Embassy vehicle.

The release of the five was a climax in a family drama — complete with the involvement of a prominent television crew — that has gripped headlines both in Australia and the Middle East.

The five Australians are implicated in the operation to seize the two children from Al-Amin two weeks ago. Two Britons and two Lebanese have also been charged in the case but they remain in jail.

Faulkner surrendered any custody claims to the two children in Lebanon as part of a deal struck with al-Amin in front of a judge Wednesday, her lawyer said.

"She will accept that the children will stay with their father," said the attorney, Ghassan Moughabhab, who acknowledged that al-Amin had received a judgment earlier in his favor from a Lebanese religious court. "Taking into consideration the Lebanese law, he's in the right."

Read more here.

April 27, 2016 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Todres: "Can Mandatory Reporting Laws Help Child Survivors of Human Trafficking?"

 Jonathan Todres (Georgia State University College of Law) has posted on SSRN his article Can Mandatory Reporting Laws Help Child Survivors of Human Trafficking?,  2016 Wisconsin Law Review Forward 69-78 (2016).  Here is the abstract:

Once thought of as primarily a criminal justice issue, human trafficking is now recognized an issue that implicates all sectors of society. Trafficked individuals have been identified in a breadth of industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, construction, mining, fisheries, forestry, health care, hospitality and tourism, domestic service, restaurants, forced-begging operations, and the sex industry. Preventing exploitation across so many sectors requires a comprehensive, coordinated response. In addition to the criminal justice system, social services, health care professionals, educators, businesses, media, and others all have a role to play in addressing human trafficking and its attendant forms of exploitation. As part of the recent push to broaden engagement in anti-trafficking efforts, policymakers and advocates have identified mandatory child abuse reporting statutes as a vehicle for engaging health care providers, educators, and others professionals who work with children to help identify children at risk of or exploited by human trafficking. This article examines the potential impact of mandatory reporting laws on efforts to address child trafficking. In the past several years, roughly one-quarter of the states have amended their mandatory reporting laws to cover some or all forms of human trafficking. This article argues that these measures, while well-intentioned, might not have the intended impact without further action. The article examines the potential for mandatory reporting to address both sex trafficking and labor trafficking and then discusses how to make mandatory reporting a more effective tool for addressing the trafficking of children.

April 27, 2016 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Although Few Americans Approve of Divorce, Their Beliefs on Cohabitation are Softening

From Deseret News:

The number of Americans who find cohabitating acceptable has been growing, but fewer adults say they approve of divorce, according to a recent National Health Statistics report.

It's a continuation of a half-century of dramatic change in American family life, according to authors Jill Daugherty and Casey Copen, both Ph.Ds in the Center for Disease Control's Division of Vital Statistics. Their report outlines great change in family life: People marry for the first time later than in the past, divorce rates that shot up are now dropping, the fertility rate is lower, more people are cohabitating, a smaller share of new babies are being born to married parents and more of first births are to older mothers.

The report is based on data from the 2002, 2006-2010, and 2011-2013 editions of the National Survey of Family Growth.

"Living together before marriage may help prevent divorce," was agreed to by 60 percent of women and 67 percent of men in the 2011-2013 group. Those numbers are similar to findings in the previous survey as well. But the number who agreed "divorce is usually the best solution when a couple can't seem to work out their marriage problems" dropped from 46.7 percent of women and 44.3 percent of men in 2002 to 38 percent of women and 39.3 percent of men in the 2011-2013 group.

Similarly, support for the opinion that "a young couple should not live together unless they are married" dropped between 2002 and 2011-2013 — among women from 34.7 percent to 28 percent, and among men from 32 percent to 24.8 percent.

Read more here.

April 26, 2016 in Cohabitation (live-ins) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 25, 2016

UK Internet Charity Finds Fourfold Increase in Child Abuse Imagery

From Yahoo News:

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), an online child sex abuse charity, said on Thursday that the number of reports of images and videos containing child abuse had increased by 417 percent over the last two years.

In its annual report, the IWF said 68,092 reports had been positively identified as containing illegal child sexual abuse imagery and taken down.

That represented a 118 percent increase over the previous year, it said.

Prime Minister David Cameron gave his approval for the IWF to start proactively searching for online child sexual abuse imagery in April 2014.

From that time, IWF analysts could themselves search for child abuse imagery rather than just acting upon reports they received, prompting a dramatic increase in the number of images identified.

"By being allowed to actively search for these hideous images of children, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the sheer number of illegal images and videos that we’ve been able to remove from the internet," IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves said in a statement.

Of the images discovered in 2015, 69 percent were of children aged 10 or under and 34 per cent were Category A which involves the rape or sexual torture of children, the IWF said.

Hargreaves said the IWF planned to increase the number of its analysts to 17 from 12.


Read more here.

April 25, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Papers

Dear colleagues:


Please visit this call for panels and papers for the 2016 Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) Teaching Conference

Proposals are due by June 15, 2016.  We look forward to seeing you in Chicago this fall!


Friday and Saturday, September 30 and October 1, 2016 

The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois

April 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Save the Date

SAVE THE DATE: Central States Law Schools Scholarship Conference
The Central States Law Schools Association 2016 Scholarship Conference will be held on Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24 at the University of North Dakota School of Law in Grand Forks, ND.  
CSLSA is an organization of law schools dedicated to providing a forum for conversation and collaboration among law school academics. The CSLSA Annual Conference is an opportunity for legal scholars, especially more junior scholars, to present working papers or finished articles on any law-related topic in a relaxed and supportive setting where junior and senior scholars from various disciplines are available to comment. More mature scholars have an opportunity to test new ideas in a less formal setting than is generally available for their work. Scholars from member and nonmember schools are invited to attend. 
Registration will formally open in July. Hotel rooms are already available, and more information about the CSLSA conference can be found on our website at

April 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Abortion Procedure Challenged as "Torture" in Alabama

From ABC News:

A commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure would be illegal under a new bill debated in the Alabama legislature on Wednesday.

The House Health Committee held a public hearing on a bill that supporters say would prohibit a medical procedure called dilation and evacuation, or "D&E." The bill would allow the procedure, which it describes as "dismemberment abortion," in the event of a "serious health risk to the mother."

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a similar bill into law last week, while West Virginia lawmakers overrode their governor's veto in March to pass a similar law. D&E bans in Kansas and Oklahoma have been struck down by state courts.

Supporters of the bill on Wednesday compared D&E procedures to torture and medieval forms of punishment.

"I don't see how a civilized society could support these barbaric procedures," said the bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Mack Butler.

Elizabeth Potter Graham, an attorney who spoke against the bill, said it is a woman's "fundamental right" to choose the procedure.

D&Es, or surgical abortions, are used in the majority of second-trimester procedures, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Butler's bill does not target medical abortions, which are induced by medication and have higher complication rates than surgical abortions in the second trimester, according to the ACOG.

Read more here.


April 24, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

"Abortion Reversal" Laws Gain Steam, Despite Scant Scientific Evidence

From STAT:

South Dakota will soon require doctors to tell women that they can change their minds after taking the abortion pill and potentially halt an abortion in progress. Arizona and Arkansas passed similar laws last year. And an antiabortion group is promoting model legislation to inform women they can “reverse” medication abortions.

Yet that claim has no solid science behind it — just an anecdotal case report written by a physician who invented a protocol and arranged to have it tested on a half-dozen patients who regretted swallowing the abortion pill.

That’s raised alarms among mainstream medical groups.

“As physicians, we can’t just experiment on patients willy-nilly,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco. Doctors offering to undo medical abortions are “essentially testing an unproven, experimental protocol on pregnant women,” he said.

The new laws target the growing popularity of the abortion pill at a time when states have forced many surgical abortion clinics out of business with tight regulation.

About 2 million women have taken the pill since it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000; it is now responsible for 40 to 50 percent of pregnancy terminations in some states. The FDA recently took steps to expand access to medication abortions by approving their use through 10 weeks of pregnancy, up from the previous limit of seven weeks.

To push back, antiabortion groups have been urging states to restrict access to abortion pills — for instance, by mandating that they be dispensed only after a face-to-face examination by a doctor, rather than a video consultation. More recently, Americans United for Life has been circulating a model bill which would require doctors to advise all women taking the pill that they might be able to reverse the abortion, “but that time is of the essence.”

Read more here.

April 23, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Using Data to Predict Child Abuse


Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth are used to treating cases of abuse. Dyann Daley, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Cook Children’s, remembers a tiny toddler who had been kicked by his father in the stomach. “We didn’t know exactly what the injury was when he came into the operating room," she said. "But he had come into the hospital awake.”

Although doctors tried to keep him alive, the injury just wasn't survivable. He bled to death during surgery. "It was an emotional time because of the type of injury he had and how close he was in age to my own children,” Daley said.

In 2013, more than 1,500 American children died from abuse and neglect. That's the most recent national info available. Last year in Texas, the Department of Family and Protective Services announced 170 children died. Tarrant County, which includes the city of Fort Worth, has one of the highest rates of abuse in the state. Dyann Daley, who runs Cook Children's Center for Prevention of Child Maltreatment,  says no one really knows why.

 "Some people say we’re better at catching it or better at reporting it," she said. "I’ve worked in a number of children’s hospitals in Texas and also in other places in the United States. And I’ve never seen as much physical abuse as I see here.”

 Daley has been on a mission to train doctors and nurses to recognize the signs of abuse early – like suspicious bruises or marks. But detecting abuse is hard. Especially for infants who may not interact with teachers or nurses familiar with the clues.

 What they’d really like to do is prevent it. So they're experimenting with “big data” technology that could help predict neighborhoods where kids are most likely to be abused.

 It's known as predictive analytics. “This technology has been used to predict where shootings would occur and other types of violent crimes, but no one had applied it to domestic violence, like child maltreatment before,” Daley said.

Read more here.

April 22, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Unwed Mothers in Singapore Now Get Same as Others

From The Straits Times:

SINGAPORE - Unwed mothers will finally get the same 16-week maternity leave that other mothers get.

And their children will also be given a Child Development Account, which helps pay for childcare and healthcare needs.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin announced on Tuesday (April 12) the extension of these benefits - currently applicable only for married parents - to unmarried mothers and their children.

Read more here.

April 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

American Child Brides

From NPR:

More than 700 million women worldwide today were married as children, and most of them are in developing countries. But there is a growing recognition that many young teens are marrying in the United States as well — and several states are now taking action to stop it.

Advocates say the young marriages run the gamut: They include teens of every ethnicity and religion, teens who are American-born and teens who are not being forced into arranged marriages.

"To be honest with you, I begged my parents to let me get married," says Rachel Holbrook, who was 15 when she decided she wanted to marry her 21-year-old boyfriend.

Read more here.

April 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Jewish Prenup on the Rise

From the Wall Street Journal:

Before their March wedding, Tova Ross and Shaul Yaakov Morrison made the usual preparations: picking out china, finishing place cards, planning a guys’ night out.

They also set aside an evening for something that is on the rise among engaged Orthodox Jewish couples: signing a prenuptial agreement.

The halachic prenup, as it is called, is a document binding under Jewish law that helps to ensure that Ms. Ross, 22 years old, would be able to obtain a religious divorce from Mr. Morrison, 23. They signed theirs, with witnesses and a notary present, at the office of the New York-based Organization for the Resolution of Agunot.

“Part of going into a relationship with someone is making sure that you trust each other,” said Mr. Morrison. “We care enough about each other now to be protected in the unlikely event something were to change.”

The halachic prenup—which dates back decades and has been championed by the Beth Din of America, the U.S.’s biggest rabbinical court—has gone mainstream in some circles as a mechanism to avoid the messy, sometimes abusive situations that advocates say can arise as divorce becomes more common in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Read more here.

April 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Teens Aging Out of Foster Care Face Difficult Challenges

From CBS Denver:

Every year thousands of teens age out of the fostercare system on their 18th birthday. They are on their own whether they’re ready for it or not. And statistics show they don’t fare well. Many of them end up homeless, unemployed, drug addicted, or in jail. Gordon Davidson faced that same fate.

“It’s a trap. Kids are not prepared to enter life without influence, without guidance, without education,” Davidson said.

After 13 years in foster care, Davidson was kicked out of his foster home on his 18th birthday.

“Within a year I was out on the streets. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any people really in my corner that I was able to rely on,” he explained.

Davidson stayed on friends’ couches for a few years while he struggled to get control of his life. Then he found a program called Bridging the Gap at Mile High United Way. The program supports teens who are aging out of foster care.

“We really try to engage each youth and figure out where they are and how with what’s available they can take advantage and really sort of get a grasp on a future,” Davidson told CBS4.

He volunteers for the program now, acting as mentor for other teens who are going through what he went through.

Davidson was able to get a college degree and land a job as an IT Specialist at Mile High United Way.

Read more here.


April 18, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Could Paid Parental Leave Happen in Indianapolis?

From Fox 59:

Paid parental leave is a growing trend across the country. New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and California all have laws requiring paid leave for new parents.

On Tuesday, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to require employers to give six weeks paid parental leave, but could it happen in Indianapolis?

Lawmakers say it’s a great idea, but are unclear at this point if it can become a reality in Indianapolis.

Councilman Jeff Miller says any discussion on paid parental needs to be well thought out and local businesses need to be included in the conversation.

“It would take a lot of research on our part. You know it’s very early to say what would or wouldn’t work in Indianapolis, but what I do like is we have examples being put out there that we can look at, monitor,” said Councilman Miller.

In Indiana, parents can take up to 12 weeks off a year through the Family Medical Leave Act, but it's unpaid.

Parents say this could be big for all Hoosier families if it becomes a reality.

Read more here.

April 17, 2016 in Paternity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cohabitation, Marriage, and Union Instability in Europe

From Family Studies:

There has always been a fierce debate about the relationship between cohabitation and divorce risks. Some argue that cohabitation lessens people’s commitment to partnership and thus increases their risk of divorce, while others believe that a cohabitation phase before marriage (as a trial marriage) would strengthen marital stability. In the United States, data suggest that the effect of cohabitation on marriage is at best neutral; however, in European countries, the effect of cohabitation on marital stability varies markedly, according to a study covering the last decade of the twentieth century (Liefbroer and Dourleijn, 2006).

In some countries, like Austria and the USA, over 30 percent of individuals’ first unions were cohabiting relationships, while in other countries, like Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, Spain, and the UK, more than half of all first unions were marriages not preceded by cohabitation. Cohabitation followed by marriage is most common (describing more than 30 percent of first unions) in Austria, Germany, and Norway.



Why such variation in union formation and stability? The legal foundations of cohabitation and marriage differ from one European country to another. In some countries, like the Netherlands, simply living together for a few years provides a legal basis to the cohabitation and allows the couple to act together (for instance, to obtain a home mortgage based on both partners’ incomes). In other countries, establishing a legal basis for cohabitation may require a contract drawn up by a notary, or a registration at the town hall (France). Further, in some countries, dissolving a legalized cohabitation has to be done in court, especially if there are children involved.

In most European countries (especially those that have used the Napoleonic Code Civile for their own laws), getting married is not a religious act, but a secular one that must take place before any religious marriage ceremony. This is the case in the Netherlands, for example. And even in places like Italy where one can become legally married within a religious ceremony, only civil laws, not the laws of the religion, are relevant for the ceremony’s consequences (for instance, divorce). Therefore, in some nations, the differences between a legalized cohabitation and a marriage are slim. When couples can enjoy some of the legal and financial benefits of partnerships without marrying, they may be more likely to simply cohabit.

Read more here.

April 16, 2016 in Cohabitation (live-ins) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Abortion Rights Advocates Rally at Indiana Statehouse

From South Bend Tribune:

Hundreds of abortion rights supporters gathered Saturday at the Indiana Statehouse to protest an anti-abortion law signed by Gov. Mike Pence that is among the most restrictive in the U.S.

Some waved signs reading "Fire Mike Pence" while speakers took turns criticizing the law, which bans abortions sought because of fetal genetic abnormalities.

Rachael Himsel, of Bloomington, held a large banner that said "Stop This Pencestrual Cycle." She says the new law amounts to lawmakers intruding in a private decision that should be made between a woman and her doctor.

National backlash to the law has been building, and the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky have also sued the state, calling it unconstitutional.

The Republican governor says the law affirms the sanctity of life while still allowing abortions if a mother's life is at risk.

"I believe that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable--the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn," Pence said last month when he signed the measure.

Under its provisions, doctors could be sued for wrongful death or face professional reprimanded if they perform an abortion sought due to genetic abnormality or a fetus' race or sex. There is an exemption for fetuses not expected to live past three months if brought to term.

One provision in the law requiring that all aborted or miscarried fetuses be cremated or buried was particularly galling, said Himsel, who says she once miscarried.

Read more here.

April 15, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)