Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Child Marriage

From Frontline:

Heather decided she didn’t need a new pair of shoes for her wedding. The silver heels she wore to a friend’s prom at the beginning of summer would do. They would match the purple dress she picked out with her dad. Her blonde hair would be twisted and pinned back, held in place with a tiara.

On Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, she packed her clothes and crammed into the back of a van next to her boyfriend, Aaron. Her dad, stepmom and grandmother filled the other seats alongside Aaron’s parents.

It was the morning of her 15th birthday, but she wasn’t in the mood to celebrate. Heather was in her first trimester. Her belly felt bloated and queasy. She often craved soggy nachos and hard-boiled eggs.

In some ways, she was looking forward to becoming a mom. Heather said she liked the idea of raising a child, of having a purpose she couldn’t easily abandon. But she was also scared.

The pregnancy meant trouble for Aaron. He was 24 years old. In Idaho, where they met, it’s a felony — statutory rape — for an adult to have sex with anyone younger than 16. The maximum punishment is life in prison.

Read more here.

September 30, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Tait: "Corporate Family Law"

Allison Anna Tait (Richmond) recently published Corporate Family Law, Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 112, No. 1 (2017). Here is the abstract:

There is no such thing as corporate family law. But there are corporate families, and corporate families fight. What happens when corporate family members fight and the conflict is so severe that one or more of the parties wants out of the corporate relationship? Corporate law provides some solutions, but they are shaped by the assumption that all parties will bargain effectively for protections when seeking to exit a corporate relationship. Under this theory, family business is, after all, just business. The problem with this assumption is that corporate family members do not bargain the way that corporate law expects. Corporate family members are idiosyncratic bargainers who operate from a position of bounded rationality and self-interest. Consequently, they are unlikely totake steps to protect themselves against corporate oppression. The result is a mismatch between corporate law and its underlying assumptions for a substantial swath of family business owners who are subject to corporate law and corporate oppression. Thus far, lawmakers have not looked to family law to solve this problem. This Article argues that they should.Family wealth laws—divorce and inheritance—offer an alternate model of asset allocation at the end of a relationship, providing robust financial protections for parties who are vulnerable in light of their idiosyncratic bargaining position. Such laws provide the theoretical foundation for a more realistic and fair conception of protection for corporate family members subject to corporate oppression. There may be no such thing as corporate family law, but there should be.

September 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

U.S. House Considers 20-Week Abortion Ban

From Jezebel:

On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced that H.R. 36, otherwise known as the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” is scheduled for a House vote on October 3.

Read more here.

September 28, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sperm Donor Like Online Dating

From the Economist:

BROWSING websites that list sperm donors is weirdly similar to online dating. “Sanford is the total package,” begins one online ad, describing his strong jawline and piercing blue eyes. With a degree in finance and a “charming demeanour”, he is more than a pretty face. You can listen to a voice recording from Sanford himself. If all that wins you over, you can have his baby without ever having to go on a date. For $635, Seattle Sperm Bank (SSB) will post you a vial of his frozen swimmers.

The fact that the main customers for many sperm banks are now single women explains the marketing technique. “They tend to be highly educated, impatient and picky,” says Ole Schou, founder of Cryos International, the world’s largest sperm bank, based in Denmark’s second-biggest city, Aarhus. Its website is designed to resemble, a dating site, because “finding a donor should be as close to finding a natural partner as possible.”

Read more here.

September 28, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Japan's Aging Population

From the Independent:

The number of Japanese aged over 90 has passed two million for the first time, according to the latest government data.

The figure has doubled from 1.02 million in 2004 to 2.06 million.

The total number of elderly Japanese - over 65s - comes to 35.14 million, accounting for 27.7% of the population.

The data, released for Respect for the Aged Day on Monday, highlights the issues posed by Japan’s declining birth rate, which is already affecting the country's economy in areas including the job and housing markets.

According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the number of births dropped to below one million for the first time in 2016.

Read more here.

September 27, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

European Court of Justice on the Legality of Sharia Divorce

From Deutsche Welle:

The European Court of Justice is reviewing whether a divorce granted by a Sharia court is still valid in Germany. Experts are warning against a general ban, as that could put women at a disadvantage.

On Thursday this week, Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe, advocate general at the European Court of Justice, issued an opinion saying that a divorce under Sharia law should not be recognized. The Munich lawyer Stephan Lorenz calls this "madness" as he believes that it prevents the possibility of analyzing its validity in individual cases. The ECJ judgment is still pending; however, judges often follow such recommendations.


The case at hand involves a couple from Syria with German nationality. They married in 1999 in Homs, Syria, before eventually moving to Germany. Four years ago in a Syrian Sharia court, the husband ended the marriage by repeating the word "talaq" ("I divorce you") three times.  Usually, only men are permitted to divorce a spouse in this way. Women rarely have the same right.

Read more here.


September 26, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Telemedicine and Abortions

From The Huffington Post:

A new study is challenging the premise of laws across the country prohibiting abortions administered through telemedicine. 

Nineteen states require a clinician to be present when a woman takes medicine to end her pregnancy in order to keep her safe.

But the new, multi-year study has found that medication abortions are just as safe when they are done with a clinician overseeing them remotely as they are in the physical presence of a doctor. 

Read more here.

September 25, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Adoption Misconceptions

From The Chicago Tribune:

When Christine DeLoach decided to adopt, a few questions crossed her mind. Would an adoption agency be concerned that she was a single mother? What about the limited space in her small New York City apartment? Would her age matter?

A decade later, the Chicagoan is mom to three boys. She adopted her first son, Nathan, who is now 11, from Ethiopia in 2008. After moving from New York to Chicago, she adopted her son Andrew, 5, in 2015 through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services foster care process. She is now hoping to legally adopt Andrew’s biological brothers, 1-year-old John Robert and 4-week-old Joshua, who lives with them.

Read more here.

September 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Women in Tunisia Now Free to Marry Non-Muslims

From BBC News:

A spokeswoman for President Beji Caid Essebsi made the announcement and congratulated women on gaining "the freedom to choose one's spouse".

Until now, a non-Muslim man who wished to marry a Tunisian Muslim woman had to convert to Islam and submit a certificate of his conversion as proof.

Read more here.

September 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Satanists vs. Missouri Abortion Laws

From The Huffington Post:

On Monday, The Satanic Temple delivered oral arguments in front of the Missouri State Court Western Appellate District in an effort to challenge the state’s abortion law.

The organization, which views Satan as a symbol of personal autonomy and promotes compassion and “rational inquiry,” is arguing that Missouri’s abortion restrictions — including its informed consent law and mandatory 72-hour waiting period before procedures — violated the religious beliefs of one of its members.

Read more here.

September 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hurricanes and Victims of Domestic Abuse

From The New York Times:

Natural disasters like hurricanes Harvey and Irma can displace people and leave them scrambling to find stability and routine.

But during catastrophes, victims of domestic violence face a unique challenge: seeking safety from their abusers.

Read more here.

September 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Feminists and Campus Assault Policy

From The Boston Globe:

When Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last week announced plans to revise the nation’s guidelines on campus sexual assault, the predictable din of outrage drowned out the applause from some unlikely corners of college campuses: Many liberals actually approve.

Groups of Harvard Law scholars, feminist lawyers, and other university professors had long argued that the Obama-era policy for policing student sexual charges was unfair, creating a Kafkaesque system that presumed guilt rather than innocence. Now, those academics find themselves atypically aligned with the Trump administration on an issue as contentious as sexual violence.

Read more here.

September 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Shared Parenting for Kids

From Boston Herald:

What two factors vastly increase the likelihood of a healthy and happy future for kids after divorce?

Mom and Dad.

With the important exception of children who need protection from an abusive or negligent parent, “shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children,” said Linda Nielsen, a professor of adolescent and educational psychology at Wake Forest University.

It’s difficult to believe that, in 2017, this even is a question. But statistics show that mothers still are awarded full physical custody of children in more than 80 percent of court-ordered child custody cases.

One big reason for the inequity is a decadeslong belief by judges and others that conflict between divorcing parents (which is to be expected at this difficult passage) will cause too much stress for children. Those wary of establishing shared parenting argue that it places­ children in the middle of disagreements, pressures them into loyalty conflicts or forces them to side with one parent against the other.

Their thinking is that it’s better to formally place the children in Mom’s household for stability and let Dad parent one night a week and every other weekend.

In a new study, Nielsen re-examined this notion — with surprising results.

“The role of conflict has too often been exaggerated and should not be the determining factor in child cus­tody decisions,” said Nielsen, who has researched father-daughter bonds for more than 25 years.

Read more here.

September 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hacker: "Legalized Families in the Era of Bordered Globalization"

Prof. Daphna Hacker (Law Faculty and Women and Gender Studies Program) has published Legalized Families in the Era of Bordered Globalization (Global Law Series) with Cambridge University Press.  Here is the book description:

Providing a panoramic and interdisciplinary perspective, this book explores the interrelations between globalization, borders, families and the law. It considers the role of international, multi-national and religious laws in shaping the lives of the millions of families that are affected by the opportunities and challenges created by globalization, and the ongoing resilience of national borders and cultural boundaries. Examining familial life-span stages - establishing spousal relations, raising children and being cared for in old age - Hacker demonstrates the fruitfulness in studying families beyond the borders of national family law, and highlights the relevance of immigration and citizenship law, public and private international law and other branches of law. This book provides a rich empirical description of families in our era. It is relevant not only to legal scholars and practitioners but also to scholars and students within the sociology of the family, globalization studies, border studies, immigration studies and gender studies.

The book is available for purchase here on Amazon.

September 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Marital Effect on the Heart

From TIME:

People's heart health, many studies have concluded, is very connected to the health of their relationships. Research consistently shows that happily married people have lower levels of coronary heart disease, the world's No. 1 killer, than divorced, single or separated people Divorce is linked to such heart diseases as coronary atherosclerosis, for example. (Insert your own heartbreak joke here.) But a new study suggests that the relationship between long term relationships and cardiac health may be more complex than it looks.

Read more here.

September 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Naomi Cahn Wins Lifetime Achievement Award in Family Law

From GW Law:

Naomi R. Cahn, Harold H. Greene Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, was awarded the Harry Krause Lifetime Achievement in Family Law Award by the University of Illinois College of Law on September 14. The award recognized Professor Cahn's extensive scholarly contributions to the understanding of the family and family law. The law school also highlighted her impact in shaping family law through her writing, advocacy, public service, and mentoring of younger colleagues in the field. Having written eleven books and numerous law review articles, Professor Cahn's work spans a wide number of family law topics including feminist jurisprudence, reproductive technology, marriage, elder care, trusts and estates, and fertility.

Professor Cahn was the fourth recipient of the Harry Krause Family Law Award. Previous awardees include:

  • Harry D. Krause, Max L. Rowe Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois College of Law, for whom the award is named;
  • William Eskridge Jr., John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence at the Yale Law School;
  • John Witte Jr., Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law and McDonald Distinguished Professor at Emory Law.

During the event, Professor Cahn also gave a lecture on one of her newest family law topics of concentration: the legal ramifications of genetically modified human embryos. She explored how these developments foster new questions about the recognition, or nonrecognition, of legal rights and the policy choices concerning the future of reproductive technology.

Professor Cahn continues to research and write on emerging trends and legal issues related to family law.

Read the article here.

September 16, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 15, 2017

$35M Youth Detention Facility Opens in Baltimore

From The Baltimore Sun:

After community resistance stifled past plans, juveniles charged as adults in Baltimore will be held in a new $35 million detention center that state corrections officials say is better equipped to rehabilitate them.

“We intend to use this facility to help change the lives of our troubled youth,” Maryland Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Stephen T. Moyer said Friday during a media tour of the 60,537-square-foot, two-story Youth Detention Center at 926 Greenmount Ave.

Read more here.

September 15, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bizarre Prenups

From Marketwatch:

Would you be willing to alter your behavior to tie the knot?

Katie Holmes and Jamie Foxx made waves when they were spotted holding hands on a beach in Malibu this week. Although the couple has been reportedly dating for five years, it was the first time they were seen together in public — allegedly because Tom Cruise had a clause in his divorce settlement with Holmes prohibiting her from publicly dating another man after their divorce for a certain period of time. (Representatives for Holmes, Foxx, and Cruise did not respond to requests for comment).

Read more here.

September 14, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that it has sued Estée Lauder Companies Inc., accusing the beauty giant of violating federal law when it awarded male employees fewer weeks of parental leave than female workers receive.

Read more here.

September 13, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Edith Windsor Dies at Age 88

From CNN:

Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the 2013 United States Supreme Court case that struck down a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, has died at 88, according to her lawyer.

Windsor's death was first reported by The New York Times.
As the lead plaintiff in the legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, Windsor was a hero to supporters of LGBT rights, who credited the SCOTUS ruling in her case as being the first step to an eventual ruling two years later that cleared the way for same-sex marriage nationwide.
Read more here.

September 13, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)