Family Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

NY Law Change on Defining Parents

New York court makes changes in defining parents:

Petitioners in the two cases before us have alleged that the parties entered into a pre-conception agreement to conceive and raise a child as co-parents. We hold that these allegations, if proven by clear and convincing evidence, are sufficient to establish standing. Because we necessarily decide these cases based on the facts presented to us, it would be premature for us to consider adopting a test for situations in which a couple did not enter into a pre-conception agreement. Accordingly, we do not now decide whether, in a case where a biological or adoptive parent consented to the creation of a parent-like relationship between his or her partner and child after conception, the partner can establish standing to seek visitation and custody.

Read the court decision here.

August 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Child Protective Services Investigate Weiner

From the Hill:

Child-welfare officials have launched an investigation into Anthony Weiner after the former New York congressman sent lewd photos of himself with his toddler son lying next to him.

The Administration for Children's Services in New York City will look into Weiner's care of the boy, according to the The New York Post.

An agency employee visited Weiner's apartment Tuesday, according to the Post.

The photo in question shows Weiner lying in his bed in his underwear with his son in the background.

Read more here.

August 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top-Cited Family Law Profs

Brian Leiter highlights top-cited family law scholars in his Law School Reports:





Age in 2016


Martha Fineman

Emory University




Naomi Cahn

George Washington University




Elizabeth Scott

Columbia University




Lynn Wardle

Brigham Young University




Mark Strasser

Capital University




June Carbone

University of Minnesota




Nancy Polikoff

American University




Robin Wilson

University of Illinois




Joanna Grossman

Southern Methodist University




Melissa Murray

University of California, Berkeley




See the runners-up here.

August 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The (Unhappy) Male Breadwinner

From the Washington Post:

Since they surged into the U.S. labor force, quadrupling in number since 1970, female breadwinners have lived under a cultural microscope. Can they have it all — the spouse, the baby, the corner office?

Christin Munsch, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut, said this puzzle is outdated and, frankly, exclusive. She wanted to understand what life is like for heterosexual men who juggle work and family.

So, she looked at 14 years of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which seeks to gauge the well-being of young adults nationwide. About 3,100 respondents, ages 18 to 32, took the survey on the last day of 1996 and answered the same questions every year until 2011.

Munsch noticed a startling gender divide: Men who took on larger shares of household income had lower physical and mental health scores. Both men and women, it turned out, were happier when women made most of the money.

Read more here.

August 31, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Can mentally incompetent man obtain a divorce? Kentucky Supreme Court to decide

From The ABA Journal:

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Friday considered whether any elderly man who has been declared incompetent can divorce the woman who is serving as his guardian.

The lawyer for Elmer Riehle is asking the state supreme court to overturn a 1943 decision finding that state law did not authorize a mentally incompetent person to divorce, the Associated Press reports. Kentucky is one of 10 states that bar mentally incompetent people from divorcing.

Elmer Riehle’s lawyer, Steven Megerle, argues that even a person who is deemed disabled can show what their true feelings and intentions are. “I don’t think that they should be locked up by their guardian,” he tells AP.

Read more here.

August 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 29, 2016


From BuzzFeed:

Surrogacy is unquestionably expensive: Even before they ran into trouble and began accruing bills from a dozen different lawyers, the Virginia men paid $35,000 to their surrogate and another $12,500 to the Wisconsin agency that arranged their contract.

Some people see these arrangements as selling babies, or exploiting poor women’s bodies. But others, including many feminists, say women should be able to use their bodies as they please.

There is no federal law on the subject, and state laws vary enormously. California, for example, where Timmons and Olson hired the surrogates who delivered their two daughters, is the center of the nation’s surrogacy industry, thanks to a friendly state law.

But most states don’t have any surrogacy laws on the books. Some simply refuse to enforce surrogacy contracts. Others, including Virginia, don’t allow surrogacy unless at least one of the intended parents has a genetic connection to the baby. New York and Washington allow only unpaid, or “altruistic” surrogacy, and Michigan has criminal penalties for all types.

“We’re not getting any closer to a national consensus on the subject,’’ Naomi Cahn, a family law professor at the George Washington University Law School, told BuzzFeed News. “And it’s not just a split between red states banning it and blue states supporting it.”

Despite the legal limbo, because of the rise of in vitro fertilization — now responsible for nearly 2% of US births — and the legalization of same-sex marriage, demand is also rising for surrogates. And, partly to avoid legal snags, these women are generally “gestational surrogates,” meaning that they carry embryos that are not genetically related to them. According to the CDC, there were 3,432 gestational surrogates in 2013, up from 727 in 1999.

Read more here.

August 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

New Missouri custody law seeks to maximize time with each parent, takes effect August 28

From Missouri Divorce and Family Law:

Governor Jay Nixon signed House bill 1550 into law on July 1, 2016, which takes effect August 28, 2016.  This law has been dubbed as an equal custody law, or 50/50 custody law, but that is not an entirely accurate description.  Rather than specifically stating that custody should be equal, the bill’s wording is to “maximize” a child’s time with each parent to the “highest degree possible”, along with more stringent enforcement procedures and remedies.  The bill also bans “standard visitation” parenting plans.   The changes made by the new law are as follows:

Read more here.

August 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Pakistan on track to sign Hague Child Abduction Convention

From International Family Law:

A source of relief to both Pakistani and foreigner parents, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction will make it easier for families to bring their children to Pakistan, or to relocate their children to a foreign domicile, is nearly ready to be presented to the Cabinet for approval.

After the hectic efforts of ministers of law, finance and information, as well as the Foreign Office and the bureaucracies of the provinces, the convention has received approval almost unanimously.

The only words of reluctance for it have been, predictably, from the Council of Islamic Ideology.

As with the Women’s Protection Act, and the honour crimes bills, the necessity is to continue on the right path, despite the whimpering and protests of an archaic CII.

Read more here.

August 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Unusual Wedding Guests

From Yahoo:

As fate would have it, there was a llama convention happening at the same hotel where the newlyweds were staying the weekend of their wedding in Flat Rock, North Carolina. The couple didn’t know about the event coinciding with the most magical day of their lives until they called the hotel to try to block off more rooms for their guests, to no avail.

"We called and asked, 'Can we block off more rooms?' and they said there was a llama convention and they’ve already blocked off the rest of the rooms," Alexis’ husband, Drew Kluger, said.

Read more here.



Meanwhile, at another wedding...

From Yahoo:

Giving the term “the old ball and chain” a whole new meaning, a Reddit user shared the above photo of a bride looking very surprised to see two people in bondage gear at her wedding venue.

The photo was posted with the caption: “Sometimes the hotel holding your wedding also has a fetish ball booked.”

Reddit commenters weren’t going to let this go with just a few “LOL” responses. After a user wondered if the wedding planner knew about the other booking, no one could resist making jokes.

“The wedding planner probably whipped up an excuse real quick,” wrote ArlemofTourhut.

badgerpapa wrote, “The booking process probably kept her tied up for hours.”

Others couldn’t help notice the bride looked a little bit awkward.

Read more here.


August 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Donating $7 Million Divorce Settlement to Charity

From USA Today:

Amber Heard is donating the entirety of her settlement money from Johnny Depp to charity, the actress said in a statement on Thursday.

"As described in the restraining order and divorce settlement, money played no role for me personally and never has, except to the extent that I could donate it to charity and, in doing so, hopefully help those less able to defend themselves," says Heard in a statement sent to USA TODAY.

Heard, 30, reached settlement terms with Depp, 52, on Tuesday, ending an acrimonious summer spent with the couple's lawyers battling each other —  both in court and in the media. In the end, Heard received $7 million from Depp, ending their marriage of roughly 15 months.

"As reported in the media, the amount received in the divorce was $7 million and $7 million is being donated. This is over and above any funds that I have given away in the past and will continue to give away in the future," says Heard, who will split the money equally between the ACLU "with a particular focus to stop violence against women," she says, and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

Read more here.

August 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Alabama Law Hiring Announcement

THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA SCHOOL OF LAW seeks to fill entry-level/junior-lateral tenure-track positions for the 2017-2018 academic year. Candidates must have outstanding academic credentials, including a J.D. from an accredited law school or an equivalent degree (such as a Ph.D. in a related field). Entry-level candidates should demonstrate potential for strong teaching and scholarship; junior-lateral candidates should have an established record of excellent teaching and distinguished scholarship. Although positions are not necessarily limited by subject, applications from those who study and teach commercial law (including contracts and sales) or torts (including products liability) are especially welcome; business law, family law, and insurance law are also areas of interest. We welcome applications from candidates who approach scholarship from a variety of perspectives and methods (including quantitative or qualitative empiricism, formal mode ling, or historical or philosophical analysis). The University of Alabama embraces diversity in its faculty, students, and staff, and we welcome applications from those who would add to the diversity of our academic community. Salary, benefits, and research support will be nationally competitive. All applications are confidential to the extent permitted by state and federal law, and interested applicants should apply at; the positions remain open until filled. Questions should be directed to Professor Heather Elliott, Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee ( The University of Alabama is an Equal Employment/Equal Educational Opportunity Institution. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, genetic information, disability, or protected veteran status, and will not be discriminated against because of their protected status. Applicants to and employees of this institution are protected under federal law from discrimination on several bases. Follow this link to find out more: “EEO is the Law”

August 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 22, 2016

NY Divorces from 100 Years Ago

From the New York Post:

David Ackerman was a terrible husband. During his volatile marriage to wife Julia, he tried to throw her down a flight of stairs. He also told his long-suffering spouse she should support him by turning tricks.

So she filed for divorce.

This might have made the news in 1915 — women filing for divorce in the early 1900s were rare — except divorce records are sealed in New York state . . . for an astounding 100 years.


Only one other state, Alaska, automatically seals matrimonial cases, and that’s for 50 years.

What was it like to get divorced 100 years ago? The Post combed through recently unsealed Manhattan filings, including the Ackermans’, and discovered they were easily as headline-grabbing as their modern-day counterparts.

Read more here.

August 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Same-Sex Family Law Matters

From HG Legal Resources:

Many New Jersey LGBTQ couples consider 2013 to be a landmark year. In that year, a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was overturned, and New Jersey recognized the right for same-sex couples to marry.

Since then, thousands of same-sex couples have been married in our state. Although every marriage starts out with great hopes and optimism, the truth is that unfortunately many will not stand the test of time.

Same-sex couples and families face the same difficult personal issues as heterosexual couples: starting a family, infidelity, and the threat of growing apart. Furthermore, same-sex couples face additional challenges, and the law governing same-sex divorce in New Jersey is still developing and provides unique legal challenges. For heterosexual couples, the process of divorce has been made relatively straightforward and predictable thanks to years of legislative and judicial accommodation. However, LGBTQ couples face a great deal of uncertainty and ambiguity in family law issues due to the relatively recent acknowledgement of same-sex unions.
Read more here.

August 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

George Carlin, ‘Dirty Words’ and the Loss of Custody

From The Huffington Post:

In 1972, George Carlin performed a monologue about the “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” Those words were considered offensive language, and the monologue itself gave rise to a lawsuit that made its way to the United Stated Supreme Court after a complaint was lodged by a member of a conservative organization known as “Morality in Media”. The complaint was that the radio broadcast, heard by a 15 year old boy who was driving with his father, was inappropriate for the time of day. The Supreme Court was ultimately called upon to rule as to whether an order issued by the Federal Communications Commission against the broadcaster was a violation of the First or Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court decided that it was not. And at one point, George Carlin himself was arrested for disturbing the peace when he performed the monologue at a festival in Wisconsin. Apparently George isn’t the only one to suffer consequences from the use of such language.

The California Family Code provides that if a court makes a finding that a party has “perpetrated domestic violence” against the other party seeking custody of a child, there is a rebuttable presumption that awarding joint or sole legal or physical custody is detrimental to the best interests of the child.

Read more here.

August 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Palimony in New Jersey after the Latest Challenge

From HG Legal Resources:

A July 22, 2016 decision in New Jersey Superior Court, Lee v. Kim (Bergen County FM-02-1745-16), upholds the constitutionality of New Jersey’s 2010 law requiring cohabitation agreements, also known as “palimony” agreements, to be in writing. The case also stands as a good example of exactly why written agreements are necessary.

In the case, plaintiff Sook Hee Lee claimed that Dr. Jonathan Kim made oral promises of financial support over the course of their casual two-year dating relationship. Had she not challenged the constitutionality of New Jersey’s “palimony law,” Ms. Lee’s case could have been summarily dismissed due to the lack of a written agreement. Instead, as noted by Superior Court Judge Terry Bottinelli, she managed to waste both the court’s time and Dr. Kim’s time and money during two years of frivolous litigation.

The New Jersey Palimony Law Requires Agreements to be Writing.

Why such harsh words for Ms. Lee?
Read more here.

August 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Lowest U.S. Fertility in History

From the Atlantic:

According to a CDC report today, the number of babies born per female in the U.S. is the lowest ever.

That rate is known as the national fertility rate (even though it measures reproduction, not the capacity for reproduction—fertility as it’s used colloquially). It has been tracked since 1909, and it has dropped more than 10 percent since 2007.

Read more here.

August 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mormon Matchmaking

From the Wall Street Journal:

For 50 years, the scattered singles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe’s north have gathered most summers for Festinord. Equal parts spiritual summer camp and singles mixer, the five-day conference has become an essential part of the region’s LDS dating game.


Until the late 2000s, Festinord, which rotates each year among Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, was a small Nordic-only enterprise, with a few hundred participants. Social-media-fueled connections and a decline in travel costs have transformed it into an international congress of eternal-companion-seekers from as far as New Zealand.

This year, 821 singles from 31 countries attended, and for the first time the Scandinavians were in the minority. This Wall Street Journal reporter, a participant in last year’s Festinord, covered this year’s event as a journalist.

In keeping with the church’s prohibitions, alcohol is forbidden, as are sexual relations.

Read more here.

August 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Same-Sex Couples Sue for Fertility Treatments

From the New York Times:

Despite her doctor’s assurances that insurance would pay for fertility treatment, Ms. Krupa’s provider, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, denied coverage. The company cited a state insurance mandate from 2001 that required most women under 35 — no matter their sexual orientation — to demonstrate their infertility through “two years of unprotected sexual intercourse.”

Now the Krupas, along with two other women, are suing the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, claiming the mandate discriminates against their sexual orientation — essentially forcing infertile homosexual women to pay for costly procedures to try to become pregnant.

“These women are already going through what can be a difficult experience, and they have the added stress of affording it financially and the added insult of being treated like a second-class citizen,” said Grace Cretcher, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

The state mandate requires most major insurance companies to cover medically necessary treatments for infertile clients. It defines infertility as the inability to impregnate another person, the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth or the inability to conceive after one or two years of unprotected sex, depending on the woman’s age.

That language, Ms. Cretcher said, violates the constitutional rights of nonheterosexual women.

Read more here.

August 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Opioid Use Increases Third-Party Custody Cases

From The Indiana Lawyer:

As opioid use in Indiana sky-rockets, family law practitioners are seeing an increase in third-party custody proceedings. Usually families prefer to keep the child with a third-party family member rather than in the foster care system when the parent involved with opioid use.

Read more here.

August 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Custody Issues are Complex When Dealing with Special-Needs Children

From The Indiana Lawyer:

Parents of special-needs children divorce at a higher rate than normative parents. However, custody issues involving special-needs children are often more complex and involves issues; such as, medical care, special-needs schooling, and even transportation of the child. Parents and lawyers must work together to find a solution to this very complex problem.

Read more here.

August 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)