Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, April 30, 2018

Divorce Increases Likelihood of Second Heart Attack

From the European Society of Cardiology:

Heart attack survivors who are divorced or have low socioeconomic status have a higher risk of a second attack, according to research from Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a European Society of Cardiology journal.

Previous studies have shown that low socioeconomic status is associated with a first heart attack, but these findings could not be extended to heart attack survivors to calculate their risk of a second event.

Read more here.

April 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Divorce Lawyer's Lessons

From Good Talks:

With such high rates of divorce, it can be scary to think about the future of your romantic relationships and the possibility of failure in your marriage – but this divorce lawyer has worked with over 1,000 clients who have endured the difficulties of separation, and he’s learned a thing or two. In this podcast, James Sexton talks all about the wisdom and advice that he has garnered from his extensive career in divorce law and how people preparing for marriage can learn from it all.

Notable Excerpt: “The analogy I tell people is, if I said to you right now, you can have any car you want. What car would you have? [They might say] ‘I want a Maserati,’ okay? Now, if I then said to them, ‘Okay, you get one car, though. Whatever car you pick, that’s the car you’re going to have for the rest of your life.’ Suddenly a Lamborghini is a terrible idea, because you can’t put a car seat in it for a kid. And you can’t, when you’re eighty years old, get into that car, right? So if you’re only allowed to have one car, you got to find a car that not only makes sense when you’re twenty, and thirty, and forty, but when you’re seventy, and when you have kids, and when the kids have gone away.

Read more here.

April 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Bird Nesting After Divorce

From CNBC:

Where to live is following a divorce or separation is one of the biggest questions some couples face.

A trend called bird nesting aims to simplify that problem, particularly when there are children involved. The arrangement occurs when a couple keeps one home for their children and take turns living in it.

And the trend has recently gotten some mainstream attention.

Actress Jenna Fischer of "The Office" is starring in a new comedy titled "Splitting Up Together," where she and her on-screen husband, played by Oliver Hudson, take turns living in their house with their children.

Actor Josh Lucas discussed his real-life use of this living arrangement with his five-year-old son and his mother on "The Today Show" earlier this year.

"The idea behind it is, look, your relationship didn't work out between the two of you, so it shouldn't really be his problem. It should be your problem," Lucas said, adding that his son "loves it."

Read more here.

April 28, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Another Big Divorce in London

From Bloomberg:

A London court ordered the seizure of a luxury $492 million yacht owned by a Russian billionaire as judges sought to enforce one of the largest divorce payouts in U.K. history.

The court ruled that Farkhad Akhmedov should transfer ownership of the 115-meter (380-foot) MV Luna, currently impounded in a dry dock in Dubai, to his wife, Tatiana Akhmedova. The judge granted the order to uphold his earlier 453.5 million-pound ($646 million) judgment.

Judge Charles Haddon-Cave said that Akhmedov tried to hide his ownership of the Luna behind a group of companies and moved the ship to Dubai on the belief that it was "well beyond the reach of an English court judgment." The nine deck-yacht, which has 50 crew and two helipads, was originally built for Roman Abramovich before Akhmedov purchased it in 2014.

Bankers and other financial professionals are often at the center at some of the biggest U.K. divorces. London courts have gained a reputation as being a more sympathetic place to play out high-stakes cases, as judges generally order a 50-50 split of assets, giving equal weight to the work of a wealth creator and a homemaker.

Read more here.

April 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Doing Dishes Is the Pits

From the Atlantic:

What is it about dishes? Dan Carlson, an assistant professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah, and the lead author of the study, offers one possible reason: “Doing dishes is gross. There is old, moldy food sitting in the sink. If you have kids, there is curdled milk in sippy cups that smells disgusting.” Additionally, unlike some other chores such as cooking or gardening, doing dishes well does not beget compliments, he observes: “What is there to say? ‘Oh, the silverware is so … sparkly’?”

The most unpopular household tasks, Carlson told me, also tend to be the ones most often associated with women. Traditionally, women have shouldered full responsibility for chores that involve cleaning up after someone else: doing the laundry, cleaning the toilet, washing dishes. Men, on the other hand, are often associated with mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, washing the car—tasks that don’t require getting up close and personal with somebody else’s daily grime. Today, women who have to shoulder those traditionally female chores alone “see themselves as relegated to the tasks that people don’t find desirable,” Carlson said. That breeds resentment.

Read more here.

April 26, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Interfaith Dating

From the Atlantic:

In a recent Washington Post opinion piece that was lambasted on social media, a writer named Carey Purcell wrote that she was done dating Jewish men after two previous relationships ended poorly. “I’ve optimistically begun interfaith relationships with an open mind twice, only to become the last woman these men dated before settling down with a nice Jewish girl,” she explains. “At almost every event I go to, [Jewish men] approach me,” she writes later in the piece. “As flattered as I am, I don’t welcome the complications and potential heartbreak I’ve experienced back into my life.”

Purcell’s article—with its descriptions of her wasp-y manners and martini-making skills, its reference to the archetype of the “motorcycle-driving, leather-jacket wearing ‘bad boy,’” and its superficial handling of Jewish identity—has the feel of a personal essay from another era. And, in fact, a contributor tackled the same subject for The Atlantic almost 80 years ago, in an essay for our January 1939 issue simply and provocatively titled “I Married a Jew.” The author of that essay, whose identity was kept secret, reflects on her relationship with love and some pride, even as she delves into the religious and ethnic tensions that make it fraught.

Read more here.

April 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Separate Bank Accounts

From the Atlantic:

A joint bank account has, traditionally, been a sign of commitment. As newlyweds start their lives together, it is perhaps the clearest way for them to say, to each other and to the world, “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine.”

But these days, some young couples are skeptical. “There has been a generational change,” said Joanna Pepin, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland who studies the organization of money in romantic relationships. “The research we have shows that, cross-culturally, more people are keeping money separate.” Indeed, a Bank of America study published earlier this year seemed to suggest that Millennial married and cohabitating couples were more likely to hold separate accounts than previous generations were.

Read more here.

April 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Family Home Night Ideal

From the Atlantic:

Every Monday evening, Mormons around the world pause, as families. Together they pray, sing, play games, eat snacks. This is all standard fare for many American households, but the difference is that for Mormons, it’s built into every Monday night (or sometimes another night) and it has an official, deceptively generic-sounding name: family home evening.

The weekly gathering is far more than a family game night. Vern Bengtson, a sociologist who ran a major study of at-home religious practices that spanned nearly four decades, called family home evening one of “the most successful [religious] programs fostering intergenerational connections and the nurturing of families.” This, at least, is the ideal. Among some seasoned practitioners, family home evening has been called “the family fight that begins and ends with prayer.” The Mormon humorist Robert Kirby has referred to it as “family home screaming.”

Read more here.

April 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 23, 2018

Protecting Defenseless Children Not Immigration Loophole

From The Washington Post:

I remember watching the nightly television news in the 1990s and seeing a 15-year-old Chinese girl trembling before a U.S. immigration judge. Despite having committed no crime, she was shackled and sobbing. She couldn’t speak English, and it was clear she had no understanding of what the judge was saying or what would happen to her.

Her parents had sent her to the United States in the cargo hold of a container ship because she had been born in violation of China’s rigid family-planning laws — and was therefore denied citizenship, access to health care and education.

By the time the girl appeared before the immigration judge, she had already been detained for eight months. Even more shocking: After she was granted political asylum, she was detained for four more months before she was released.

Read more here.

April 23, 2018 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Celebrity Prenups

From Women's Health:

Prince Harry said he knew Meghan Markle was the one the first time they met. Now he's showing his confidence in their union by rejecting a prenuptial agreement, reports Daily Mail.

"There was never any question in Harry’s mind that he would sign a prenup," one of his friends told Daily Mail. "He’s determined that his marriage will be a lasting one, so there’s no need for him to sign anything."

Okay, but real talk: For one, prenups aren't legally enforceable in the UK, notes Daily Mailalthough they are taken under consideration in divorce cases. And Harry isn't the only royal who has shunned the prenup. Prince William and Kate Middleton reportedly didn't sign one before their wedding, according to Town and Country, and neither did their mother, Princess Diana.

Prenups are about more than just uncertainty in a marriage. Any couple who brings personal or business assets to the union can benefit from one.

The most basic of these contracts lists an inventory of premarital assets that would stay with the original owner in case of a divorce. The agreement can also include monetary support during and after a marriage, child support, and how future income or additional assets like inheritance will be shared (or not shared) if the couple splits.

Prenups are primarily beneficial to the person who enters the marriage with a larger net worth, because it means their assets are protected. But it can also be helpful for the spouse who earns less, because they can make sure they are financially supported in the event of a split.

While Harry didn't draw up any premartial paperwork, other celeb couples have taken a more aggressive approach to protecting their assets. Here, some of the juiciest celeb prenups known to the public—which cover everything from cheating to drug abuse.

Read more here.

April 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Flint School Children To Be Tested For Effects Of Lead

From Reuters:

School children in Flint, Michigan, will receive screening and in-depth health assessments to measure the effects of lead-tainted drinking water on their ability to learn, under a more than $4 million legal agreement reached on Monday.

The agreement partially settled a federal lawsuit related to a water crisis in Flint that drew international attention and prompted dozens of other civil lawsuits and criminal charges against former government officials.

Attorney Greg Little of the Education Law Center, one of the groups representing Flint students in the lawsuit, said in a statement that the deal was “a major milestone on the road to addressing the needs of children affected by the Flint water crisis.”

Read more here.

April 22, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Babies in Politics

From the Washingtonian:

Babies are now permitted on the US Senate floor, thanks to a rule change that allowed Senator Tammy Duckworth to bring her newborn daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, with her to vote. Duckworth’s “no” on the confirmation of Jim Bridenstine as NASA administrator didn’t affect the final outcome of the party-line vote, but bringing Maile into the upper chamber made the strictly codified Senate more inclusive for working mothers. While babies can now appear on the Senate floor, the list of prohibited items and behaviors is still lengthy and occasionally bizarre. Washingtonian scoured the most recent publicly available rulebooks and precedents of the Senate and the House—the two governing bodies follow separate protocols—for some examples.

Children over the age of 1 (Senate): after some senatorial nitpicking over the details of the rule change, floor privileges were restricted to the children of Senators, and only those under 1. This differs from the House, where the children of members are permitted on the floor no matter their ages.

Read more here.

April 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

South Africa Mourns Winnie Mandela

From Human Rights Watch:

South Africans will gather tomorrow for the burial of Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela, an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle known by millions as the “Mother of the Nation.”

Winnie Mandela, who died on April 2 aged 81, will be given a national funeral.

South Africans, and people around the world, remember Winnie Mandela for her immense contribution to the struggle against apartheid and her campaign for the release of her former husband, Nelson Mandela. More than almost any other anti-apartheid activist, Winnie Mandela angered the apartheid regime and they victimized her in unimaginable ways: torture, solitary confinement, banishment, and separation her from her young children whose father had already been torn from them. President Cyril Ramaphosa said Winnie Mandela “bore the brunt of the senseless brutality of the apartheid state with stoicism and fortitude.”

Read more here.

April 21, 2018 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Why The #MeToo Movement Skipped Russia

From Business Insider:

When Russia decriminalized domestic violence in February 2017, civil servants tasked with protecting women in the country's far east were dismayed by the new vulnerability of their wards. Yet few officials opposed the measure. President Vladimir Putin signed off on the bill after the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, overwhelmingly approved it by a vote of 380 to 3. The new law recategorized the crime of violence against family members: Abuse that does not result in broken bones, and does not occur more than once a year, is no longer punishable by long prison sentences. The worst sanctions that abusers now face are fines of up to $530, 10- to 15-day stints in jail, or community service work. That's if the courts side with the victim. They rarely do.

The change made it "that much harder for women" who had suffered abuse, says Natalia Pankova, the director of a state-run domestic violence organization called Sail of Hope. Pankova, based in the city of Vladivostok, oversees 10 crisis centers for women and children across the surrounding region, Primorye, a heavily forested area hugging the Sea of Japan.

Read more here.

April 20, 2018 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Making Attorney Cell Phone Numbers Public

From the Indiana Lawyer:

The practice of law can be dangerous, especially when attorneys represent parties in emotionally charged cases. But lawyers have long found solace in their homes — havens they say could be violated by a proposed amendment to Indiana criminal and trial rules.

The amendments in question — which would apply to Indiana Criminal Rule 2.1 and Trial Rule 3.1 —would require attorneys to include their cellphone numbers on appearance filings, making their personal contact information publicly available. Lawyers say providing that information could expose them to a deluge of client text messages and phone calls at all hours of the day and night, but Indiana Supreme Court officials say the idea is to improve communication between courts and attorneys.


While attorneys from all practice areas have expressed concerns about making their cell numbers public, members of the family law bar have been particularly vocal about their opposition. That’s because the nature of their practices requires practitioners to walk with clients through divorces, custody disputes and parental rights fights — each of which can involve heightened emotions and bitter battles.

“We work in very hostile cases,” said Vanessa Lopez Aguilera of the Lopez Law Office. “Many people are very angry, and they hold you responsible for whatever’s going on in their life. And if you’re successful for your client, the other side is mad at you.”

The hostility directed toward Lopez’s family law practice once forced her to seek police protection just to come into the office. She’s also been the recipient of a work-induced protective order, while her paralegal learned to shoot a gun just in case the office received an ill-intended visitor.

In addition to physical threats like those Lopez Aguilera has received, the fast-paced nature of family law has many in the practice area questioning the wisdom of public cellphone numbers. As it is now, Christine Douglas of Harden Jackson Law already gets bombarded with work-related communication via her work phone, email, fax and even social media. And in the moments just before she was set to deliver her first child, Douglas got a call from an opposing party wanting to discuss their case.

The family law attorneys acknowledge that all practice areas are demanding but say the very personal nature of their work makes clients feel as though their attorneys should be available to consult on their family issues at the drop of a hat. With email, family law practitioners can choose to ignore client messages when they’re off the clock but adding cellphones into the mix would greatly reduce that discretion, they said.

“I just know people would take advantage of that,” Douglas said.

Read more here.


April 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Syrian Refugees Leaving Germany Over Family Reunification Policy

From Deutsche Welle:

Syrians granted limited asylum but denied the right to fetch relatives are departing Germany for Turkey by using smugglers, say German media. The cases, if confirmed, bizarrely reverse the "Balkan route" drama of 2015.

Thousands of Syrian refugees are attempting to leave Germany despite being legally entitled to stay, according to a report to be aired Thursday on German public broadcaster ARD. 

Stuck in Germany without close relatives because of Berlin's all but refusal to allow family reunions, the refugees were said to be using traffickers to reach their families in Turkey, saying "we'd rather die together than live apart."

Read more here.

April 18, 2018 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Arranged Marriages Still Going Strong

From CNN:

In many ways, Naina is no different than millennial women I know in the United States.

She is 20 and finishing a degree in psychology at a Delhi university. She wears Zara skinny jeans and H&M T-shirts and hangs out with her girlfriends at one of Delhi's myriad American-style malls and coffee shops.
She listens to R&B and EDM on Apple Music; her favorite song is "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5. Cable TV is so yesterday; she streams shows and movies on Netflix. Her favorite? "Something Borrowed," in which a young woman falls in love with her best friend's fiancé.
But when it comes to marriage, Naina's views might shock American women her age. She reflects a way of thinking long engrained in the culture of my homeland: Your parents know best.
Read more here.

April 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bitcoin and Divorce

From Schiller, DuCanto, & Fleck, LLP:

In Illinois, incident to resolving a divorce case, all assets and liabilities are required to be identified, valued, and allocated between the parties equitably. Although often resulting in a 50/50 division of marital assets, “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.” Prior to either reaching an agreed upon division of assets, or proceeding to trial on the issues of property division, all assets must first be identified and then where possible, valued. With the rise of the digital age, issues of valuation have expanded to the world of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Valuation, however, is not the only issue involving bitcoin and divorce. Today, divorcing parties and their attorneys must be diligent in approaching bitcoin (and all other cryptocurrencies for that matter) during divorce.

While identification of the existence of bitcoin or other cryptocurrency is the starting place, one must first understand what bitcoin is. Bitcoin is an electronic currency that allows users to transfer funds directly to one another through a peer-to-peer system without the need for a middle man, like a bank or Western Union. As set forth in the Wall Street Journal, “Bitcoin, despite its name, isn’t money. It does not have governmental backing. According to the Journal, its extreme price volatility significantly diminishes its usefulness as a reliable unit of account or effective means of payments. Bitcoin might, however, serve as a sustainable store of value, like gold.”

Read more here.


April 17, 2018 in Current Affairs, Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boyfriend-Sharing in China

From South China Morning Post:

Chinese shopping malls have started offering “boyfriend-sharing” services in one of the more eye-catching examples of the country’s all-encompassing shared economy.  

Read more here.

April 17, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Seventh Circuit Holds ERISA Does Not Preempt Slayer Statute

From JD Supra, Holland & Knight:

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA), pre-empts most state laws. However, there are certain types of state laws that are not pre-empted. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Laborers' Pension Fund v. Miscevic, 880 F.3d 927 (7th Cir. 2018), held that the Illinois slayer statute is one of those state statutes that is not pre-empted by ERISA. A slayer statute is a law that prevents an heir from receiving assets or other property from a decedent if that heir is responsible for the decedent's death.

In this case, a woman killed her husband. The husband was a participant in a union pension plan that provided survivor benefits to a surviving spouse or, if there were no surviving spouse, to a minor child. There was no dispute as to the facts. In a state criminal proceeding, the woman was found to be not guilty of killing her husband by reason of insanity. Her husband's pension fund, The Laborers' Pension Fund (the Fund), brought an interpleader action to determine the proper beneficiary of the husband's pension benefits because the couple had a minor child.

Read more here.

April 16, 2018 in Attorneys, Current Affairs, Domestic Violence, Jurisdiction, Property Division | Permalink | Comments (0)