Family Law Prof Blog

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

Friday, June 30, 2017

High Cost of Child Marriage

From NPR:

Advocates for ending child marriage are trying a new tactic: Show governments just how much the practice is hurting their own bottom line.

That's the goal of a new report by the World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), a global research and advocacy group. The report analyzes the impact of child marriage on the national budgets and economic growth of 25 countries where at least one in three women marry before age 18. Its conclusion: By 2030 child marriage will cost developing countries billions of dollars in health-care and education costs as well as lost earnings potential.

Suzanne Petroni, one the report's co-authors and a senior director at ICRW charged with expanding the evidence base on child marriage, is hoping the data will be a wake-up call for governments. Until now, Petroni says, research on child marriage has mainly focused on determining its prevalence, causes and costs to women at the individual or family level.

Read more here.

June 30, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Call for Authors – Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Family Law Opinions

Call for Authors – Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Family Law Opinions 

DEADLINE:  FRIDAY, JULY 21, 2017 

The U.S. Feminist Judgments Project seeks contributors of rewritten judicial opinions and commentaries for an edited collection tentatively titled, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Family Law Opinions.  This edited volume is part of a collaborative project among law professors and others to rewrite, from a feminist perspective, key judicial decisions in the United States.  The initial volume, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court, edited by Kathryn M. Stanchi, Linda L. Berger, and Bridget J. Crawford, was published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press.  Subsequent volumes in the series will focus on different areas of law and will be under review by Cambridge.

Volume editor Rachel Rebouché seeks prospective authors for twelve to fifteen rewritten family law opinions covering a range of topics.  With the assistance of an advisory panel of distinguished family law scholars, the editor has selected decisions that have not appeared in other Feminist Judgment volumes.  Potential authors are welcome to suggest other opinions, but given certain constraints, the list of cases will likely remain the same.  The list of selected cases, a description of the process of selecting decisions, and the opinions considered but not included, are on the application website (https://goo.gl/forms/9JYv7GtR2gJMDVbY2).     

Proposals must be to either 1. rewrite an opinion (subject to a 10,000-word limit) or 2. comment on a rewritten opinion (4,000-word limit).  Rewritten decisions may be majority opinions, dissents, or concurrences.  Authors of rewritten opinions should abide by the law and precedent in effect at the time of the original decision. Commentators should explain the original court decision, how the feminist judgment differs from the original judgment, and what difference a feminist judgment might have made.  The volume editor conceives of feminism broadly and invites applications that seek to advance, complicate, or critique feminist ideas and advocacy.

Those who are interested in rewriting an opinion or providing commentary should complete the form found here: 

https://goo.gl/forms/9JYv7GtR2gJMDVbY2

Applications are due no later than Friday, July 21, 2017.  The editor will notify accepted authors and commentators by Monday, July 31, 2017.

First drafts of rewritten opinions will be due on Friday, February 2, 2018.  First drafts of commentaries will be due on Friday, March 9, 2018.

If you have any questions, please contact Rachel Rebouché at rebouche@temple.edu.

June 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Germany to Vote on Same-Sex Marriage

From CNN:

German lawmakers will decide Friday whether to legalize same-sex marriage, according to CNN affiliate NTV. The snap vote comes after Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that she would like to see parliament move towards a "vote of conscience" on the issue.

Following Merkel's comments, German politicians writing on Twitter called for a vote to be held as soon as possible. Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) -- the second largest party in parliament -- called for parliament not to wait until after the federal election in September. "We will push through marriage equality in Germany," he tweeted. "This week."
 
The vote is likely to pass with strong support from other German parties and from some lawmakers within Merkel's CDU. Volker Kauder, leader of the parliamentary group of the ruling CDU faction, called Tuesday for CDU members voting for and against the law to show respect for each other's position, according to NTV. But he also warned that such a sudden vote could lead to a "hasty decision."

Read more here.

June 29, 2017 in Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Teenagers Not Working Summer Jobs

From the Atlantic:

The summer job is considered a rite of passage for the American Teenager. It is a time when tossing newspaper bundles and bussing restaurant tables acts as a rehearsal for weightier adult responsibilities, like bundling investments and bussing dinner-party plates. But in the last few decades, the summer job has been disappearing. In the summer of 1978, 60 percent of teens were working or looking for work. Last summer, just 35 percent were.

Why did American teens stop trying to get summer jobs? One typical answer is: They’re just kids, and kids are getting lazier.

One can rule out that hypothesis pretty quickly. The number of teens in the workforce has collapsed since 2000, as the graph below shows. But the share of NEETs—young people who are “Neither in Education, Employment, or Training”—has been extraordinarily steady. In fact, it has not budged more than 0.1 percentage point since the late 1990s. Just 7 percent of American teens are NEETs, which is lower than France and about the same as the mean of all advanced economies in the OECD. The supposed laziness of American teenagers is unchanging and, literally, average.

A better answer is that teenagers aren’t spending more time on the couch, but rather spending more time in the classroom. Education is to blame, rather than indolence. Teens are remaining in high school longer, going to college more often, and taking more summer classes. The percent of recent high-school graduates enrolled in college—both two-year and four-year—has grown by 25 percentage points. That is almost exactly the decline in the teenage labor-force participation rate.
 
With tougher high-school requirements and greater pressure to go to college, summer classes are the new summer job. The percent of 16-to-19-year-olds enrolled in summer school has tripled in the last 20 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rise may be directly related to the fact that parents and high schools are encouraging students to take on more classwork, according to Ben Steverman, a Bloomberg reporter who covers teen employment. He finds that the percentage of high-school grads completing at least four years of English, three years of science, math, and social science, and two years of foreign language has sextupled since the early 1980s.
 
Read more here.

June 28, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Same-Sex Marriage Rates

From Gallup:

Two years after the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that states could not prohibit same-sex marriages, 10.2% of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) adults in the U.S. are married to a same-sex spouse. That is up from 7.9% in the months prior to the Supreme Court decision in 2015, but only marginally higher than the 9.6% measured in the first year after the ruling.

Read more here.

June 27, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Ending Federal Oversight of Juvenile System in TN County

From U.S. News and World Report:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee county has requested an end to federal oversight of its juvenile court system.

In a letter dated June 9, Shelby County officials cited progress in meeting standards set by the Department of Justice. The DOJ began oversight in 2012 after a report found failings in the system, including discrimination, unsafe confinement conditions and lack of due process, The Commercial Appeal reported (http://memne.ws/2rFLzYI) .

Read more here.

June 26, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

President Trump Sued by Feminist Group

From The Daily Caller:

The National Women’s Law Center  (NWLC) filed a suit Monday against the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) for failing to give the organization data it wanted on sexual harassment in schools.

The feminist nonprofit alleges in its lawsuit that the DOE violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by not releasing records of pending sexual harassment investigations and other data related to Title IX in response to its January request.

The NWLC argues the issue is pressing because Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has not favored the stricter Title IX enforcement guidelines instituted during the Obama administration.

Read more here.

June 25, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

IVF Out of Reach

From HuffPost:

Much has been made of the high cost of rearing children in the United States, and rightly so. Families spend more than $230,000 on average to raise kids from birth to age 17 — a figure that doesn’t include the cost of college. 

But for the 6.9 million women who have turned to fertility services, the bills pile up well before they ever hold a baby in their arms. A single cycle of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, costs more than $12,000 on average in the United States, not counting the cost of medications and travel.

Only 15 states require insurance coverage for fertility treatments. So for many would-be parents, IVF is simply out of reach.

Against that backdrop, the Sher Institute — a network of nine private fertility centers across the country — has run a popular but controversial free IVF contest for the past five years. The institute encourages people who couldn’t otherwise afford IVF to vie for two free rounds by submitting personal and often extremely emotional video pleas about their quest to have a baby.

The contest has been slammed as a manipulative publicity maneuver ― and defended asa necessary response to a reality in which only the very privileged can afford fertility treatment. 

Documentary filmmaker Amanda Micheli dove into the controversy in her documentary “Vegas Baby” (now available online and playing in select theaters around the country).

Read more here.

June 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cosby

From Garnet News, written by Professor Jessica Dixon Weaver (SMU Law School):

 

WHAT THE COSBY AND SANDUSKY CASES TEACH US ABOUT REPORTING SEXUAL ASSAULT

Once one or two victims come forward, the gate opens and the flooding begins. In both the Bill Cosby andJerry Sandusky sexual assault cases, young adult women and children came forward after decades to report being sexually assaulted by a man who held a certain power in their lives, whom they trusted.

Our legal system is mostly designed to deal with crimes shortly after they have occurred. However, the laws in most states do not match up with the reality of victims’ experiences.

Read more here.

 

WHY CONVICTING DR. HUXTABLE IS SO HARD

The mistrial in the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby reveals the difficulty of convicting “America’s Dad,” Dr. Healthcliff Huxtable. It may be easy to blame the hung jury on the fact that there were some inconsistencies in Andrea Constand’s statements, or on the fact that it is difficult to sentence a blind man who is almost 80 years old to jail for the rest of his life.

Read more here.

June 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Berlin Mosque Welcomes LGBT Muslims

From Heatstreet:

In the largely immigrant neighborhood of Moabit in Berlin, a prominent women’s rights activist opened the city’s first-ever LGBT, feminist mosque last Friday.

The Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque meets in the third floor of a Lutheran church, which it has rented with money donated by Turks, Kurds and Arabs, the Associated Press reports.

Its first call to prayer was led by an American female imam. At the new mosque, men and women worship in the same room, and people of all genders and sexual orientations are welcome, the newswire reported.

Read more here.

June 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Courts Acknowledging Third Parent

From NBC San Diego:

Sixteen-year-old Madison's family clustered for a photo in a California courtroom, commemorating the day it finally became official that she has three parents.

The adults she calls Mom, Dad and Mama were all there for her birth, after the women decided to have a child together and approached a male friend. They shared time with Madison and input on raising her. Their Christmas Day traditions involve all of them.

But legally, Victoria Bianchi became her daughter's parent only this fall, joining a small but growing number of Americans who have persuaded courts and legislatures to give legal recognition to what's sometimes called "tri-parenting."

"I just felt like I've been holding my breath for the last 16 years," Bianchi said. "She's already been my daughter ... she's finally, legally mine."

Read more here.

June 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ending Child Abuse in the U.S.

From Huffington Post:

According to recent data from the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, one in 34 children is confirmed as abused or neglected in Massachusetts each year. That’s one case confirmed every 15 minutes.

To get a better picture of the issue, I sat down with Suzin Bartley, executive director of the Children’s Trust, an organization with a mission to stop child abuse in Massachusetts. Bartley also serves as a co-chair of the Massachusetts Legislative Task Force on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. In our interview, we discuss some of the systemic contributors to child abuse, the costs that abuse incurs for the individual and the community, and the most effective ways to end the epidemic.

Does public understanding and definition of child abuse differ across culture and region?

Yes, cultural norms play an important role in shaping parenting practices.

There have been social workers or others who are not necessarily sensitive to cultural parenting practices like corporal punishment or non-Western medicine, and will call them child abuse.

Are they? Yes. Are they intentional or malicious? No.

The key is working with parents to help them create a toolkit of positive disciplinary techniques. Once parents see that those techniques are effective, they will use them. Most parents don’t want to hurt their child.

Read more here.

 
 

June 22, 2017 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

GOP, Abortion, and the Health Care Bill

From ABC News:

Senate Republicans working on high-stakes health care legislation are anticipating problems with abortion restrictions that their House counterparts have already passed.

As a result, they're considering ways to channel new financing for health insurance through existing government programs that bar the use of taxpayer dollars for abortion, according to sources familiar with the policy discussions. Those options include the Children's Health Insurance Program.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of closely held discussions about a Senate version of the health care bill. GOP aides said nothing has been resolved. Republican leaders are pressing for a Senate vote on health care, which could come before the July 4 holiday.

Senate GOP leaders want their bill to bar federal funds for abortions. Failure to include such restrictions would jeopardize support from conservative Republican senators, whose votes will be needed for passage.

Read more here.

June 21, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Parness: "Marriage Equality, Parentage (In)Equality"

Jeffrey A. Parness (Northern Illinois University - College of Law) has recently posted on SSRN his new article Marriage Equality, Parentage (In)Equality, 32 Wisconsin Journal of Law Gender and Society __ (Fall 2017) (forthcoming).  Here is the abstract:

Recently, several quite distinguished commentators have asked how, if at all, the U.S. Supreme Court will speak, after its same sex marriage ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, to interstate inequalities involving the federal constitutional rights of childcaring parents. Specifically, Professor Mayeri notes in the Yale Law Journal that today the “constitutional law of the family stands at a critical turning point,” leaving us to ponder whether the “advent of marriage equality,” which “disrupted conventional definitions of parenthood” by demoting “marriage and biology in favor or a more intent-based and functional criteria,” will heighten or diminish the federal “constitutional significance of marital status” in parentage matters. Professor NeJamie worries in the Harvard Law Review that Obergefell “may reduce incentives to achieve laws that recognize unmarried, nonbiological parents,” though there is the “potential” for it to “yield more robust recognition for some unmarried parents.” And Dean Murray, while recognizing this “potential,” worries in the California Law Review that Obergefell may not be read to “sanction and facilitate … methods of family formation … that credit nonmarriage.”

Obergefell did not directly address any issues involving national parentage equality. It is not likely that the ruling will prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to address national parentage equality any time soon. The Court has historically deferred to state parentage laws while recognizing their significant interstate variations.

While interstate parental childcare equality issues are important, they pale in significance to issues of intrastate equality for marital and biological parents, as well as for nonmarital, nonbiological, nonadoptive parents who care for children and who are often deemed de facto or presumed parents, which can include grandparents and/or stepparents. In the article I offer a few thoughts on intrastate parental childcare equality after explaining why interstate inequalities will likely remain unaddressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

June 20, 2017 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Normal Development through Fertility Treatment

From Reuters:

(Reuters Health) - Despite concerns that children born through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) may develop differently from other kids, a UK study finds they have normal mental skills until at least age 11.

In fact, at ages 3 and 5 years, kids born as a result of these techniques had greater verbal cognitive ability than those born through natural conception, though this gap diminished with time. Researchers say that the older, better educated and more financially well-off parents of ART kids may play an important role in this difference at early ages.

“In the last decade, we’ve seen a huge increase in the use of ART and discussions about the outcomes and child development,” said lead author Anna Barbuscia, a sociology researcher at the University of Oxford.

The first “test tube baby” was born in the UK in 1978. And globally, about 5 million children have been conceived with ART since then, according to the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Read more here.

June 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Open Marriages

The New York Times has a video interview of couples in open marriages--see it here.

June 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Seeking Advice

A reader seeks advice in the New York Times Magazine:

After 25 years of marriage and three children, my husband and I divorced. He was a former seminarian and a pro-life Catholic when we married. He insisted on no birth control. When we divorced, he was a lawyer and vice president of a Fortune 500 company. I did not receive any spousal support, but he promised he would always be there for the children. I worked hard and was always able to take care of myself. I felt guilty about the divorce and never asked for more.

Shortly after our divorce, my ex-husband remarried and never again had anything to do with our children. He told the children that they owed him “filial piety,” but apparently he felt he owed them nothing. That was 30 years ago. Over time the children, now adults, have reached out to their father with the help of therapists, but he refuses to have anything to do with them. I have sent letters to him as well but have received no response. He and I have a daughter-in-law and two teenage grandchildren he has never met.

I never remarried. I try to provide emotional and sometimes financial support for our children and grandchildren because I love them. Nothing I do, however, will heal the wounds of being cut off from their father. My question is this: The law says that parents must provide financial support for their children until age 18. But what are the ethical obligations of parents to their children after age 18? Doesn’t a father have an ethical obligation to provide something for the children he has brought into the world? Name Withheld

Read the response here.

June 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fatherhood

From Amy Ziettlow and Naomi Cahn, writing for the Institute for Family Studies:

In 1910, the first Father’s Day was celebrated. Today, more than 40% of Americans have at least one step-relative in their family. This new normal in modern families means that many children will send more than one card this Sunday to celebrate the father and stepfather in their lives.

Fatherhood is challenging enough, but a stepfather faces unique challenges. He may not have a life-long history of shared experiences and shared values with his stepchildren, so he needs to make extra effort to create a positive relationship. Although parents generally feel more responsible for their own children than for their stepchildren, and stepchildren feel less responsible for their stepparents than their own parents, many stepfathers and stepchildren have figured out how to reinforce their responsibilities to one another.

In our research on blended families, elder care, and loss, we observed critical ways that stepparents step in, step up, and step alongside their stepchildren that led to working together gracefully as a blended family for many years. The key element to this choreography was that the stepparent took the lead.

Read more here.

June 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Single Motherhood and Coverture in the U.S.

Hazen Alshaikhmubarak (University of California, Santa Barbara), Rick Geddes (Cornell University), and Shoshana Amyra Grossbard (San Diego State University) have posted on SSRN Single Motherhood and the Abolition of Coverture in the United States, CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6471.  Here is the abstract:

Under the common-law system of coverture in the United States, a married woman relinquished control of property and wages to her husband. Many U.S. states passed acts between 1850 and 1920 that expanded a married woman’s right to keep her market earnings and to own separate property. The former were called married women’s earnings acts (MWEAs) and the latter married women’s property acts (MWPAs). Scholarly interest in the acts’ effects is growing. Researchers have examined how the acts affected outcomes such as women's wealth-holding and educational attainment. The acts' impact on women’s non-marital birth decisions remains unexamined, however.

We postulate that the acts caused women to anticipate greater benefits from having children within rather than outside of marriage. We thus expect passage of MWPAs and MWEAs to reduce the likelihood that single women become mothers of young children. We use probit regression to analyze individual data from the U.S. Census for the years 1860 to 1920. We find that the property acts in fact reduced the likelihood that single women have young children. We also find that the “de-coverture” acts’ effects were stronger for literate women, U.S.-born women, in states with higher female labor-force participation, and in more rural states, consistent with predictions.

June 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Child Marriage Ban Legislation in N.Y.

From ABC News:

The New York Legislature has overturned a state law that allows 14-year-olds to legally wed, paving the way to end child marriage in the state.

The Democratic-led Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would increase the age of marriage to 17. The Republican-led Senate passed the measure earlier this week.

New York is one of three states that allows children as young as 14 to marry with parental and judicial consent. The other two are Alaska and North Carolina.

Child advocates say the New York law can trap minors in forced marriages, sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Health department data shows that between 2000 and 2010, 3,853 minors were married in New York. Eighty-four percent were girls married to adult men.

The bill the Legislature approved would prohibit marriage for individuals under 17 years old; those ages 17 to 18 would need court approval. The bill outlines a process of interviews and statements of rights to ensure a 17 year old enters a marriage by free will.

Read more here.

June 16, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)