Family Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

New Surrogacy Law in D.C.

From The Washington Post:

Edward Palmieri and Christopher Schriever were on the George Washington Bridge, barreling north on Interstate 95, when their twin babies were born. The couple arrived at the hospital after dawn to meet their children and settled into a room that had been reserved for their new family.

Kelli Rapp, a Vermont woman they had contracted with to carry their children, was recovering from an emergency Caesarean section in a room nearby. The Washington couple spent the next two days wheeling the babies’ bassinets between their rooms, visiting with her family and extended relatives.

The first days after birth were “a mix of complete joy and fear: This is really happening,” Palmieri said. “It was such a process.”

The couple’s journey to parenthood involved an egg donor, a surrogate, legal teams in six states, and well over $150,000 spent over the course of 2½ years.

Three years later, they have reason to hope that the path to parenthood will be more streamlined for other District residents: A 25-year-old law that banned surrogacy contracts was recently reversed by the D.C. Council. That means would-be parents will no longer need to leave the District to contract with a surrogate. The law, passed in December, became effective in April after a required congressional review.

Read more here.

June 15, 2017 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Christian Divorce in Pakistan

From the Houston Chronicle:

LAHORE, Pakistan - For a Pakistani Christian like Shameela Masih, divorcing her abusive husband meant two choices - both nearly as bad as staying in the marriage.

"I have to prove adultery allegations against him," said Masih, a 34-year-old mother of two. "The other option I have is to convert to Islam."

Masih recently filed for divorce from a husband she said "frequently beats me up" and a mother-in-law who she said burned her leg with coal.

But under the majority-Muslim country's laws, she must produce a witness who would testify to committing adultery with her husband. As a result, she's now reluctantly planning to renounce her faith.

"Converting is the easiest way out," she said. "My family tells me that they will disown me as a Muslim, but I don't have a choice."

Masih is one of thousands of Christians in Pakistan who have converted to Islam to divorce their spouses under laws stemming from the British colonial period, when traditional morals held sway.

Now Pakistani officials are considering revising the law to make it easier for couples to part ways.



Read more here.

June 14, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Divorce and the Hong Kong Housing Market

From Bloomberg:

The usual suspects for Hong Kong’s sky-high property prices are low interest rates, a housing shortage and demand from mainland China. But there’s another unforeseen factor: divorce.

Demand for separations and remarriages have accelerated sharply over the past two decades as the former British colony has deepened its integration with the mainland. That’s according to Richard Wong, an academic at the University of Hong Kong and a veteran analyst of the local housing sector.

The numbers tell the story: Between 1976 and 1995, cumulative total marriages reached 803,072, with 84,788 divorces and 65,794 remarriages, according to Wong. In the subsequent years, through 2015, marriages rose to 878,552 while divorces shot up to 323,298 and remarriages came in at 256,066.

Looser travel restrictions between Hong Kong and the mainland after Britain handed the colony back in 1997 have played a role in encouraging Hong Kong residents to find new partners across the border. The divorce phenomenon is distinct from the mainland, where couples have sometimes separated simply to get around curbs on housing purchases.

Read more here.

June 13, 2017 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Anniversary of Loving

From the New York Times:

OAKLAND, Calif. — For their first date, in 1949, Leon Watson and Rosina Rodriquez headed to the movie theater. But each entered separately. First went Ms. Rodriquez, a fair-skinned woman who traces her roots to Mexico. Mr. Watson, who is black, waited several minutes before going in and sitting next to her.

“We always did it,” Mr. Watson said one recent afternoon. “They looked at you like you were in a zoo. We just held our heads high and kept going. If we knew there would be a problem, we stayed away from it.”

When they married in Oakland in 1950, mixed-race marriage had just become legal in California, the result of a lawsuit that reached the State Supreme Court. They are among the oldest living interracial couples legally married in the United States. It would be nearly two decades before all couples like them across the country were allowed to marry.

On Monday, they will mark the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court case that overturned antimiscegenation laws nationwide. Mildred and Richard Loving, a black woman and a white man, had been sentenced to a year in a Virginia prison for marrying each other. The case would serve as a basis for the Supreme Court decision allowingsame-sex marriage.

Read more here.

June 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Not Selling Phones with Internet to Kids

From the Irish Mirror:

A child development expert has said a new proposed law here making it illegal to sell mobile phones with internet access to under-14s, is a “great idea” and it would safeguard kids.

Catherine Ross, a professor of law at George Washington University in Washington, will be a keynote speaker at the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights in Dublin on Monday.

The proposed Internet Access for Minors Bill 2017, if enacted, will also make it illegal for retailers to sell mobile phones with internet access to under-14s and for parents to allow their kids (born after 2015) to own the devices.

She said: “Certainly, I think the idea of offering parents the choice of a non-internet phone is a great idea.

Read more here.

June 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Change in Abortion Procedure in Texas

From Reuters:

The Texas governor has signed into law new abortion restrictions that include requiring abortion providers to dispose of aborted fetal tissue through burial or cremation, despite a block on the regulation already imposed by a U.S. court.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed what is known as Senate Bill 8 into law on Tuesday and it takes effect from Sept. 1. It also includes a ban on the most common method of second-trimester abortion.

Texas is the most-populous Republican-controlled state. Its abortion restrictions have often been fiercely defended by the state's lawyers and copied by other socially conservative states.

"Texas legislation on abortion is typically amplified because the state can be a beacon for restrictions nationwide," said Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research group.

The anti-abortion group, Texas Right to Life, praised Abbott and the legislation, calling it the" most significant pro-life victory" of the regular legislative session.

Read more here.

June 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Curbing Juvenile Crime Trends

From WKRN News:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Crimes committed by teenagers in Davidson County is up this year.

At this time last year, juveniles were charged with more than 390 serious crimes. So far this year, that number has increased to nearly 530.

Magistrate Jennifer Wade with the Juvenile Justice Center told News 2 it is extremely concerning that the number of violent crimes committed by teens has increased.

“There is a gap and perhaps a growing gap in those that are flourishing and doing well in our city, and those who are coming more to the attention of the court and the social services of our city as well,” said Wade.

In 2016, 14 juveniles faced 21 murder charges and from January 1, 2016 to June 1, 2016, six teens faced nine murder charges.

For the same time period in 2017, 10 juveniles face 13 murder charges.

Read more here.

June 11, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Cake Shops and Gay Marriage

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON -- It's been nearly two years since the Supreme Court said gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry. What it didn't say was whether bakers, florists, printers and photographers could be forced to participate.

Now, it seems, the court may be tied in knots over the more mundane aspects of tying the knot.

For three months, through a dozen private conferences, the justices have had on their agenda the mysterious case of Jack Phillips, cake artist. The Colorado baker, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refuses to perform his artistry for same-sex couples on religious grounds. For that, he has lost a series of challenges and has taken his case to the highest court in the land.

The justices could agree to hear him out. They could take a pass, as they did with a similar challenge from a New Mexico photography studio in 2014, when same-sex marriage was limited to some states. Or they could wait for new developments -- another case, perhaps, or even another justice. To date, they've kept mum.

“We’re in uncharted territory, and we just have to see how it plays out,” says Jeremy Tedesco, Phillips' lead counsel at the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, which specializes in religious liberty issues. The delay, he says, "shows that the case is being taken seriously.”

Read more here.

June 10, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Muslim Woman Becomes First Female Judge

From KUOW News:

Israel is often celebrated for LGBTQ rights, gender equality in its military and electing one of the world’s first female heads of state back in 1969. But women still lack equal representation in positions of power, especially in Israel’s religious realm.

For these reasons, Hana Mansour-Khatib’s appointment as Israel’s first woman religious court judge is being celebrated by Arab and Jewish leaders alike. She will serve as judge, or Qadi, in Israel’s Sharia courts.

“It's not only a personal achievement,” Mansour-Khatib insists. “It’s ours, for Arab women and Muslim women in Israel who are seeking the best rights they can get from the religious courts.”

Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze religious courts in the region date back to the Ottoman Empire and operated throughout Britain’s mandate control of Palestine. Today, rabbinical courts in Israel oversee marriage, divorce and other personal status issues for Jews, as do the Sharia courts for Israel’s Muslim Arab citizens, who comprise about 17 percent of Israel’s population.

Read more here.

June 9, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Language Barriers in Domestic Abuse Cases

From The New York Times:

Arlet Macareno still gets choked up when telling the story about when the police arrived at her home in Staten Island nearly five years ago, responding to a 911 call from her niece, who found her lying at the bottom of the stairs.

Ms. Macareno, in an interview and a federal lawsuit, said she tried to tell the police that her husband had pushed her down, but instead of taking him to jail, the responding officers arrested her and carried her barefoot and badly bruised to the 120th Precinct station house.

She was charged with obstruction of governmental administration, according to the legal complaint, after pleading with the officers for an interpreter. The arresting officer said she had prevented him from writing his report, her lawyer said.

With little understanding of English or her rights, and in a hurry to return to her 7-year-old son, she pleaded guilty in criminal court to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct and was released.

“I knew I needed an interpreter and had a right to an interpreter,” she said. “I was denied the right to speak. I was denied to the right to express myself. I felt destroyed,” she said in Spanish during an interview.

Read more here.

June 8, 2017 in Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Ohio

From News 5 Cleveland:

CLEVELAND - After just four weeks in existence, the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court Help Center has been flooded with more than 700 applicants hoping to represent themselves in their divorce cases.

The number of people choosing to represent themselves for financial or personal reasons has grown significantly in recent years.

In 2016, more than 60 percent of the cases filed in Domestic Relations Court were by applicants who did not have attorneys, an increase of over 10 percent from 2015.

But with the rise in pro se representation, has also come a rise in errors.

“Along the way, they make a lot of mistakes,” explained Judge Rosemary Grdina Gold of the Domestic Relations Division of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court,  “And then they come to court to get a hearing and think they’re going to get divorced.”

But Judge Gold explained that these applicants often miss vital steps, delaying their divorces.

“I’ve had people break down at the bench crying,” Judge Gold said. “I need to get divorced today. I thought I was getting divorced.”

Read more here.


June 7, 2017 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Family in Indiana Awarded $25M in Child Death Suit

From The Washington Post:

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana officials have agreed to pay $25 million to a couple who was wrongfully accused in the death of their 14-year-old daughter.

The lawsuit filed by Jessica Salyer’s family was dismissed Wednesday after the settlement was reached.

Court documents allege the state Department of Child Services pursued a neglect case against her parents, Roman and Lynnette Finnegan, despite an investigation that showed Jessica died in 2005 from taking prescribed medications that had a fatal interaction.

The department removed two of the Finnegan’s other children from their home and placed them in foster care. The Finnegans were arrested, but the charges were later dropped. They then sued three of the department’s workers, an Indiana State Police detective and a doctor in 2008.

Read more here.



June 6, 2017 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Florida to Issue Miscarriage Certificates

From The Washington Post:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida will become the first state to issue what’s essentially a birth certificate to women who’ve had miscarriages, an idea that received broad support among Democrats and Republicans despite concerns from the National Organization for Women that it was an attempt to define life for fetuses that couldn’t survive outside the womb.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill titled the “Grieving Families Act” Wednesday that will allow the state to start issuing “certificates of nonviable birth” beginning July 1 if parents request them. They would be available to women whose pregnancies end after nine weeks and before 20 weeks of gestation.

“At any stage, a parent that loses a child loses a part of themselves,” said Republican Rep. Bob Cortes, the bill sponsor.

Read more here.

June 5, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Judge Considers Holding Anti-Abortion Leader in Contempt

From The Washington Post:

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge said Thursday he will consider holding the leader of an anti-abortion group in contempt after links to videos that the judge had barred from release appeared on the website of the man’s attorneys.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick ordered David Daleiden and his attorneys, Steve Cooley and Brentford J. Ferreira, to appear at a June 14 hearing to consider contempt sanctions.

A phone message at Cooley and Ferreira’s law firm number was not immediately returned. A representative for Daleiden said she expected to have a statement later.

Daleiden is a leader of the Center for Medical Progress, which has released several secretly recorded videos that it says show Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal tissue for profit, which is illegal. Planned Parenthood said the videos were deceptively edited to support false claims.

Read more here.

June 4, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Trump's Family Leave Proposal

From The National Law Review:

In his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018, President Donald Trump allocated $20 billion to establish a “Federal-state paid parental leave program” within the unemployment insurance program. The paid family leave program would provide six weeks of paid leave benefits for mothers, fathers and adoptive parents. The program would begin in 2020.

Exact details on how this program would be run, however, were not provided in the proposed budget. However, the budget plan explained that states would have “broad latitude” in designing and financing this paid leave program.

While this proposed program could garner bipartisan support, it also could create additional taxes on employers. The federal government would set minimum levels for states to maintain in their unemployment trust funds. For those below the minimum levels, the states will have to increase their unemployment insurance taxes, which in turn, will impact employers.

Read more here.

June 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Taiwan High Court Rules for Same-Sex Marriage

From NPR:

Taiwanese laws that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying violate their personal freedom and equal protection, the island's Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday. The justices called sexual orientation an "immutable characteristic that is resistant to change."

"The judges have today said yes to marriage equality," said Amnesty International's Lisa Tassi, who directs campaigns in East Asia. "This is a huge step forward for LGBTI rights in Taiwan and will resonate across Asia."

Taiwan's president has asked the Ministry of Justice to come up with a legal framework for complying with the decision.

The court's ruling gives Taiwan's government two years to change its marriage laws. If that deadline passes without legislative action, same-sex couples will be allowed to register for marriage and obtain "the status of a legally recognized couple."

Read more here.

June 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Health & Marriage

From The New York Times:

In a nation as divided and contentious as our own, it is rare to find a belief we all share. But trust in the transformative power of marriage is close to universal — and it has endured for decades. This isn’t just a matter of faith, we’ve been assured. It’s science. Research is said to have established what our fairy tales promised: Marry and you will live happily ever after. And you will be healthier, too.

A new study challenges the claim that people who marry get healthier. In “The Ambiguous Link Between Marriage and Health,” recently published online in the journal Social Forces, the sociologist Matthijs Kalmijn reported findings from the Swiss Household Panel, a 16-year survey of a nationally representative sample of more than 11,000 Swiss adults. Every year, participants were asked one set of questions about their overall health and another about their illnesses.

If marriage makes people healthier, then people who marry should report better overall health and less illness than when they were single. If the purported benefits of marriage are cumulative, then people should get even healthier over the course of their marriages.

Read more here.

June 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)