Family Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What’s Mine Is Mine, What’s Yours Is Yours - Or Maybe Not

From The Huffington Post:

You are going to get married. You have substantial net worth. You have a business that you have built up over the years and it is now doing well. You are excited about your upcoming marriage and you don’t want to do anything that might take the excitement out of the process. Since you already own the business and you already have accumulated your worth, there seems to be nothing to worry about. After all, community property, as you understand it, encompasses that which you acquire during the course of your marriage. You already have the business and the assets going in, so in the off-chance it does not work out you will be okay financially.

While it is true that in California assets that are acquired prior to marriage, or that are acquired through a gift or inheritance are separate property - they don’t always remain so. If the business you are operating continues to grow through the marriage, the appreciation in the value of that business becomes community property. As a community property state, the law provides that accumulations made through the efforts of a spouse while married are community property. As a result, that growth that your business has experienced becomes community property as well. It does not mean that the entire business becomes community property, but some portion of it is jointly owned by you and your new spouse which means that if things do not work out - your new spouse is going to have his or her share of that business coming to them. This can create significant problems when it comes time to divide up the marital estate. It may be that most of your assets are tied up in that business and it may then become difficult to buy your new spouse out of it.

A similar problem can arise with separate property money. If it is passively invested, then in theory there is no issue — you put no effort into causing it to increase in value after marriage, and provided that you never put it into a jointly-titled account, or transferred it to an account opened after marriage it will be safe. The problem is that in real life things don’t usually work this way. Inevitably, some effort may go into managing it or at some point money will be moved from one account to another. And in the course of a marriage that lasts many years, things may come up that require the use of funds for a joint purpose that came from a separate property source and now require extensive accounting to trace back to that source.There is one way to avoid these problems.

There is one way to avoid these problems.

Read more here.

February 28, 2017 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, February 27, 2017

The best medicine for ADHD might not be medicine, at least at first

From The Washington Post:

Steve and Michelle were desperate. Their 6-year-old son, Sam, was diagnosed with ADHD soon after entering first grade. Sam’s behavior seemed outright defiant: He ignored adults when his name was called and was in constant motion.  Sam let out bloodcurdling screams when forced to stop playing a game on the iPad. His teacher had struggled to manage similar behaviors in class, and his guidance counselor said Sam “needed to be on medicine.” Steve and Michelle weren’t so sure, but they wondered if they were being negligent by not putting him on Ritalin or something similar.

But despite the relentless advertising for meds, and the occasional coercion by school personnel, your young ADHD child may not need Ritalin. At least not yet.

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released results from its first national study to look at therapy, medication and dietary supplements to treat kids with ADHD ages 4-17. “Because behavioral therapy is the safest ADHD treatment for children under the age of 6, it should be used first, before ADHD medication for those children,” principal investigator Ileana Arias wrote.

Read more here.

February 27, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lawmaker proposes bill in Oklahoma requiring a father's consent for abortion

From The Washington Post:

A bill advancing in Oklahoma would require a woman to get the written consent of the fetus’s father before obtaining an abortion.

The bill, which passed out of a House committee Tuesday, would also require a woman “to provide, in writing, the identity of the father of the fetus to the physician who is to perform or induce the abortion,” according to the bill’s language. “If the person identified as the father of the fetus challenges the fact that he is the father, such individual may demand that a paternity test be performed.”

The bill’s author, Rep. Justin Humphrey (R), could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But in an interview with The Intercept earlier this month, Humphrey said that men should be able to have a say over the fate of a fetus, and suggested that a woman has greater responsibility in a relationship for preventing pregnancy because she would be the “host.”

Read more here.

February 26, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Rights Advocates Warn Russian Domestic Abuse Law Will Protect The Oppressor

From NPR:

The young mother spoke softly but with determination. After fleeing from her abusive boyfriend, she and her newborn baby found refuge last month in a women's shelter on the outskirts of Moscow.

According to Russian law at the time, he could have faced criminal prosecution for striking her. Now, under legislation signed Feb. 7 by Russian President Vladimir Putin, her partner would most likely face an administrative fine of up to $500.

The 30-year-old woman asked her name not be used because her boyfriend, whose abuse she reported to authorities, is still looking for her. But she was blunt in her opinion about Russia's new law decriminalizing domestic violence for first-time offenders.

"The law mentions one blow, but with one blow, you can kill someone," she said. "What kind of husbands, what kind of families, will we have with that law? What kind of relationships will we have in our society? Is that normal?"

Read more here.

February 25, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 24, 2017

It's Time to End Child Marriage in New York


Child advocates in New York are attempting to overturn a law that allows children as young as 14 years old to wed because they say it can trap minors in sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Democratic Assemblywoman Amy Paulin on Tuesday introduced a bill to raise the minimum age for marriage to 17. New York is one of three states that allow 14-year-olds to marry with parental and judicial consent.

Paulin called the law an appalling loophole for adults to sexually abuse children and avoid statutory rape charges.

"I can't even begin to imagine the physical, psychological and emotional traumas these children have suffered," she said. "We must safeguard the health, safety and welfare of our children, who are the future of our society."

Read more here.

February 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Indiana GOP Sends 'Abortion Reversal' Bill Back to Committee

From U.S. News:

An Indiana House panel will take another look at a measure it narrowly approved last week concerning a scientifically disputed process known as abortion reversal, a rare legislative step that Democrats say reflects widespread problems with the proposal.

Republican Rep. Ron Bacon's bill would require abortion providers to give women information about potentially stopping drug-induced abortions midway through the procedure. He contends providing it could give women a chance to save their baby if they change their minds, but critics say the so-called abortion reversal procedure hasn't been sufficiently vetted.

The measure had narrowly cleared the panel in a 7-6 vote, with two Republicans joining the Democratic lawmakers in voting against it. Measures that clear committees are typically amended further on the floor of the chamber, rather than in the panel where they were first heard.

Read more here.

February 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Teen Suicide Attempts Fell as Same-Sex Marriage Became Legal

From USA Today:

Fewer U.S. teens attempted suicide in states where same-sex marriage was legal in the years leading up to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling upholding gay marriage, according to a new study.

Analyzing data from 1999 to 2015, researchers found a 7% reduction in suicide attempts among high school students in the 32 states that legalized same-sex marriage. There was a 14% declined among students categorized as sexual minorities, specifically gays, lesbians and bisexuals, according to the study.

More than 29% of gay, lesbian and bisexual high school students nationwide reported attempting suicide within the past 12 months, according to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System data, whose long-term data researchers relied on for the study. That's compared with about 6% of heterosexual students.

Read more here.

February 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Student Papers

If/When/How, in collaboration with the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law School, is currently accepting submissions for the twelfth annual Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights. 
This year's suggested theme is "Balancing Burdens and Benefits after Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt." However, submissions on other topics will also be accepted. For more information, please download the Call for Submissions
The deadline for submission is Monday, February 27, 2017. 
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 casebook Cases on Reproductive Rights and Justice, by Melissa Murray and Kristin Luker. The first place winner will also have a chance at publication with the NYU Review of Law and Social Change

February 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Woman had to leave Mississippi to divorce husband

From 10 News: 

In 2001, Elizabeth Freels knew her marriage of seven years was over, and she wanted a divorce.

But her husband, David, felt otherwise. He didn't want one. Elizabeth said he told her, "I will not give you a divorce until the day you die. If I can't have you, no one else will."

And in Mississippi, one of only two states without a true "no-fault divorce" law, if one spouse doesn't want a divorce, he or she can often stave one off for a long time. In the Freels' case, it was more than a decade, according to a story in the Clarion-Ledger.

There's an effort in the Legislature to make some small reforms to Mississippi divorce law. But such efforts have failed in the past, and a measure to create a "no-fault" divorce based on length of separation has already been watered down early in the legislative process this session.

Read more here.

February 21, 2017 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Washington's top court rules against Christian florist who wouldn't provide flowers for gay wedding:

From The ABA Journal:

A Christian florist did not have a First Amendment right to refuse to provide flowers for a gay wedding, the Washington Supreme Court has ruled.

The court on Thursday affirmed a fine and citation imposed against Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, for her violation of state laws barring discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. How Appealing linked to the decision (PDF); the New York Times and the Washington Post have stories.

Stutzman refused to provide the flowers because she had a religious belief that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Providing flowers, she maintained, is tantamount to endorsing marriage equality for same-sex couples. She also alleged that the sale of floral arrangements is expressive conduct that amounts to speech. She claimed violations of her federal and state constitutional rights to free speech.

The state supreme court found no constitutional violation. Stutzman’s floral arrangements are not expressive conduct eligible for constitutional protections, the court said. Nor does the law infringe her right to free exercise of religion, the court concluded.

Read more here.

February 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

D.C. mayor does not sign — or veto — family-leave law, leaving critics on both sides

From The Washington Post:

In the first real test of her power in the face of a new left-leaning D.C. Council, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser dodged a showdown over the city’s paid-family-leave bill.

Bowser was opposed to the legislation, among the most generous paid-leave policies in the country, for several reasons. She was concerned about the $250 million annual tax it would impose on employers. She worried that it would benefit city workers who lived in Maryland and Virginia more than her own constituents. And she felt it was imprudent to expand government when the city may face cutbacks under the Trump administration.

The business community, even more opposed to the law, was counting on Bowser to block it.

But Bowser didn’t veto it. And she didn’t sign it, either. She let the bill become law without her signature and then sent a letter to the D.C. Council, maintaining that she had “grave concerns” about it.

The move left business leaders, who had spent weeks lobbying council members to back up a mayoral veto, scratching their heads, and the liberal lawmakers who passed the measure newly emboldened.

Bowser’s inaction drew criticism from both sides.

“She’s out there by herself — completely alone right now — and that’s not a good place to be,” said Jim Dinegar, head of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Dinegar, along with the heads of every major business group and associations representing D.C. restaurants, colleges and hospitals, had urged Bowser to veto the “deeply flawed and unnecessarily expensive” bill.

Aides to the mayor said she ran out of time to build consensus around an alternative plan that could get enough votes to sustain a veto.

“To put a veto on it, the mayor knows that doesn’t mean anything unless you have the votes to sustain it,” said a high-ranking aide to the mayor who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Bowser’s decision.

But by not using her veto power, Dineger said the mayor lost the force of argument that she was doing everything she could in the city’s best interests. Dineger was also critical of the business community, saying it should have done more to help Bowser find the votes needed to sustain a veto, since without it “she can’t claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility.”

Bowser (D) also couldn’t win praise from progressives in her own party who have been pushing for family-leave benefits nationwide.


Read more here.

February 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

New York Family Law Firm Eiges & Orgel, PLLC Moves to New Office on Broadway

From Yahoo! News:

Eiges & Orgel, PLLC has moved its main office location to a new building in Manhattan. The firm will continue to provide the award-winning representation in divorce and family law matters it has become known for from the following office location:

The Woolworth Building
233 Broadway
Suite 2205
New York, NY 10007-3757

The Woolworth Building is a well-known National Historic Landmark and New York City Landmark centrally located on Broadway in Manhattan, New York City. The new office location offers more convenience to local residents of Manhattan and surrounding areas who wish to meet personally with the firm's attorneys, Ken Eiges and Scott I. Orgel, during initial consultations and regular meetings to discuss the progress of their cases. Additionally, the firm is positioned closely to the New York City Family Court in Lower Manhattan, allowing the attorneys to easily attend court appearances beside and on behalf of clients.

The firm is pleased to offer a conveniently located office that has the room and resources needed to tackle even the most complex family law cases, including contested divorce matters, child support and custody issues, alimony, high net worth, and more. As a testament to the firm's commitment to client satisfaction and convenience, Eiges & Orgel, PLLC also serves local residents throughout New York from office locations in Brooklyn and Queens. The firm is open on Saturdays and is available to provide consultations to new clients via telephone.


Read more here.

February 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Oklahoma lawyer and the woman he represented in a divorce are shot and killed

From The ABA Journal:

A lawyer in Norman, Oklahoma, and his divorce client were shot and killed, apparently by the woman’s estranged husband, authorities said on Wednesday.

The victims are lawyer Bryan Young, 47, and his client, Cayann Patterson, 49, report the Norman Transcript and the Oklahoman. Young was an associate at Ward Glass in Norman and was previously a high school principal, according to other stories by the Norman Transcript and the Oklahoman.

The suspect was Patterson’s estranged husband, Timothy Michael Deffner. Police say he shot Young and Patterson multiple times after going to their homes and kicking in the doors. Deffner shot himself early Wednesday after he was surrounded by authorities in a field.

Young’s wife, Lisa, said she went downstairs to investigate after hearing several loud bangs. She went outside and saw the suspect, who told her she should get back in the house, according to Pottawatomie County Undersheriff J.T. Palmer, the Oklahoman reported.

Patterson had previously received a protective order against Deffner.

Read more here.

February 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Employee alleges hospital violated family leave law

From The Pennsylvania Record:

An employee is suing a York hospital, alleging violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act and wrongful termination.

Christine M. Buckley filed a lawsuit Jan. 25 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against York Hospital, doing business as Wellspan York Hospital, alleging the hospital called the plaintiff at home in an attempt to harass her.

According to the complaint, Buckley, a registered nurse, suffered monetary damages from being terminated from her employment for exercising her rights to FMLA. The plaintiff alleges Wellspan York interfered with her FMLA leave by terminating her employment in February 2016, despite having sufficient medical records to support her claim of having medical conditions.

Buckley seeks trial by jury, damages, back wages and benefits, compensatory damages, unpaid wages, benefits and wage supplements, statutory interest, court costs, liquidated damages, and all further relief the court grants. She is represented by attorney Jeremy Donham of Donham Law in Dellslow, West Virginia.

Read more here.

February 16, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Texas fathers fight for equal custody law at legislature

From ABC 12 News:

A renewed effort is underway by fathers in this state to get a law passed allowing equal custody for both parents during a divorce.

"When you go through a divorce you split everything down the middle, why is it when you have a child you can split custody and time with that child,” asked Noel Geren, 37.

He and his infant daughter are inseparable but Geren said he does not get to see his 10-year-old son from his first marriage as often as he'd like.

"I've been seeking more time with my son for the last four years and I've spent upwards of $80,000," he explained.

Geren is now among the vocal supporters of Texas House Bill 453, authored by State Rep. James White, R-Woodville, which would give mothers and fathers equal custody during a divorce.

"If this bill passes you're going in there at an equal advantage with the other person," added Geren. "It doesn't touch on any child support. It doesn't touch on anything that would be detrimental to the child. It's still left in the courts hands on what they want to do."

If parents reach a custody agreement before arriving in a family court, judges simply approve it. But more often, mothers win custody which leaves fathers only with visitation. House Bill 453 could change the starting point in family courts giving both parents equal custody from the beginning.

At least five states already have similar laws. But since custody cases are often messy and each one is unique, a former family law judge says the legislature should not mandate what to do with children.

Read more here.

February 15, 2017 in Child Support Enforcement, Divorce (grounds), Property Division, Resources - Child Custody | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Texas bills proposed to make divorce more difficult

From ABC 13 News:

A Texas lawmaker is hoping to get two bills passed that will make it more difficult for couples to divorce.

State Representative Matt Krause (R) filed SB 93 and HB 65. SB 93 aims to strike out no foul or insupportability divorce filings.

"You've got to allege some type of fault, grounds such as abandonment, adultery, mental cruelty and the like," said family law attorney and president elect of the Texas Family Law Foundation Warren Cole.

Cole said repealing the no fault filing will also force couples to air out their dirty laundry. Most divorce filings cite "insupportability" as the reason, in part to maintain a level of privacy.

"To expose their children to that, especially fosters one parent who continues to hold a grudge against the other parent. It defeats effective coparenting, if you will," said Cole.

Krause said he decided to file the bill because the "insupportability" filing makes it just too easy for couples to give up and to divorce.

"I think this just reinforces the sanctity of marriage," said Krause. "I think when we went to no-fault divorce in the 1970s, it in some ways cheapened the institution of marriage."

Krause also filed HB 65, which pushes out the 60 day waiting period for a divorce to 180 days if a couple has children under the age of 18.

Read more here.

February 14, 2017 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Wedding Costs Up Again

From CNN:

The average cost of a wedding climbed to a record high of $35,329 last year, according to The Knot's 2016 Real Weddings study. That's up 8% from the 2015 average.


Couples are also rolling out customizations like a dessert baristas or adding a special element, like a scotch or bourbon bar.

Technology is also playing a bigger role on the special day, which can increase the budget. Brides are hiding GoPro cameras in their bouquets to film their walk down the aisle, according to The Knot, and photographers are using drones to get overhead shots.

While weddings are getting more modern, who picks up the tab has remained pretty traditional: Only 10% of couples paid for the event themselves, the study found.

"Weddings are still very rooted in tradition," said Maxwell Cooper. "There are still parts of the wedding that are tough to break."

On average, the bride's parents covered 44% of the budget, while the couple paid 42% and the groom's parents picked up 13%. Nearly half of the couples surveyed reported they went over budget.

Read more here.

February 13, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Scourge of Child Marriage in Africa Continues

From Human Rights Watch:

“I’ve never experienced happiness in my marriage. I’ve never seen the benefit of being married,” Chimwemwe told me when I interviewed her in a small village in rural Malawi.

Chimwemwe was just 12-years-old when she married a 17-year-old boy to escape poverty at home. Like many girls I have interviewed in South Sudan, Tanzania, and Malawi about their marriages, she was hoping for a life of love and prosperity, but instead endured poverty and violence at the hands of her husband.

In sub-Saharan Africa, about one in four girls marry before age 18. Statistics show that African nations account for 17 of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage globally. For example, according to new UNICEF data, 76 percent of girls in Niger and close to 70 percent of girls in Central African Republic and Chad marry before they turn 18. In Malawi, one in every two girls marry before age 18.

Read more here.

February 12, 2017 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Indiana appeals ruling on parental rights for same-sex couples

From The Indianapolis Star:

The state of Indiana is appealing a federal judge's ruling allowing female same-sex spouses to both be listed on their children's birth certificates.

In June, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled state laws unconstitutional for requiring a same-sex spouse to adopt a child in order to gain parental rights. The state only recognized a birth mother, and not her wife, on a child’s birth certificate.

Pratt ordered Indiana to extend the same parental rights to married same-sex couples as it does for married opposite-sex couples, including listing both mothers on a birth certificate.

While the state's appeal of that ruling is pending, same-sex couples will have their parental rights recognized.

Read more here.

February 11, 2017 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Oklahoma bill to do away with incompatibility as reason for divorce

From Enterprise-Examiner:

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Oklahoma has the third highest divorce rate in the United States. Only Arkansas and Nevada have higher rates of couples ending their marriage.

Dunlap filed House Bill 1277 to address that, he said. The bill, titled the "Fairness in Fault Act," would eliminate the ability for couples in Oklahoma to file for divorce based on incompatibility if there are living minor children of the marriage; the parties have been married 10 years or longer; or if either party files a written objection to the granting of a divorce.

The proposed legislation also eliminates required educational programs for couples who file for incompatibility-based divorce to discuss the impact of divorce on children, since Dunlap's bill would not allow incompatibility divorce if there are minor children.


Read more here.

February 10, 2017 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)