Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, June 30, 2018

For Women In Papua New Guinea, Income From Selling Betel Nut Can Come At Heavy Price

From NPR:

The women are mostly in their early 20s. They have children at home. Selling betel nut — an addictive, natural chew — to passersby in mountain towns of Papua New Guinea is a good way to earn a living.

But the extra income sometimes comes at a heavy price: violent beatings by their spouses. Two out of three women in Papua New Guinea experience abuse at the hands of an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization and aid groups.

Betel nut sellers in Goroka, the main city in the Eastern Highlands, say physical violence is particularly common in their marriages.

Read more here.

June 30, 2018 in Divorce (grounds), Domestic Violence, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Life Difficult for Venezuelan Migrants

From The National Geographic:

The Simón Bolívar bridge, connecting the Colombian city of Cúcuta with the Venezuelan city of San Antonio, is packed with people all day long.

Soon after the border opens in the early hours of the morning, thousands cross by foot from Venezuela to Colombia. Many are ready to leave everything behind, planning not to return to their home country. Some expect to stay in Colombia and others are moving through to different destinations. Another group crosses the bridge to shop for basic items. The number of daily pedestrians varies, but it’s estimated that about 35,000 people are now crossing the bridge every day.

Although the region has experienced multiple population movements, this exodus is thought by some to be Latin America’s worst-ever migration crisis. Over the last four years, amid a long and dire economic downfall, Venezuela has seen the impoverishment of its citizens and a resulting mass exodus.

Read more here.

June 29, 2018 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Argentina Takes Big Step Toward Legal Legalizing Abortion


From NPR:

It took more than 22 hours of debate, stretching overnight into Thursday morning, but finally Argentina's lower house of Congress has decided: By a 129-125 vote, the Chamber of Deputies passed a bill legalizing abortion before 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill now heads to the country's Senate, where its chances of passage appear less rosy — but if it does get a yes vote in the upper chamber, Argentine President Mauricio Macri has said he will sign it into law, despite his own reservations.

Outside Argentina's Congress on Thursday morning, a massive crowd of demonstrators bearing green flags and dressed in warm clothing erupted in cheers at the news.

Read more here.

June 28, 2018 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Modern Face of the DIY Abortion

From BBC News:

The findings also suggest that in countries where abortion laws are more restrictive, there is greater search interest in abortion pills.

By buying pills online and sharing medical advice through WhatsApp groups, women are increasingly turning to technology to sidestep legal barriers to abortion.

This is the modern face of the so-called "DIY abortion".

Countries with the strictest laws, where abortion is allowed only to save a woman's life or banned altogether, have over 10 times higher search interest in abortion pill Misoprostol compared to countries with no restrictions, BBC analysis shows.

Read more here.

June 27, 2018 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Deported Into A Nightmare

From The Atlantic:

Edwin Vásquez, a 16-year-old, is learning how to live with fear. One afternoon last fall, as he played soccer on a field near his house in La Rivera Hernández in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, gunfire suddenly rang out, and he barely dodged bullets meant for him. Lurking around the field were members of the Olanchanos, one of six gangs in La Rivera. Although Edwin is not a member of MS-13, the Olanchanos’ rival, it does control the street he lives on. This fact alone marks him as an enemy of the Olanchanos.

After the shooting, he considered joining MS-13 for protection, but suspected the threat was so imminent that he didn’t have time. “Our greatest challenge here is to stay alive,” he said. “To be together with your mom, your family, and to make it to 18 or 22.” So at sunrise the day after the shooting, Edwin and his half brother left for the United States. They passed through Mexico atop la bestia, the train that migrants often ride for part of their journey, notorious for robberies and assaults. Gripping white-knuckled to its roof one night, he watched a man tumble to his death while fending off two men attempting to rape his teenage daughter, Edwin said.

Read more here.

June 26, 2018 in Child Abuse, Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 25, 2018

Fart Spray in Divorce

From Business Insider:

Bill Gross, the billionaire cofounder of PIMCO, allegedly left dead fish and other vile smelling liquids in the Southern California mansion he once shared with his ex-wife Sue Gross, the New York Post first reported Sunday.

Court documents reported by the paper outline how the Los Angeles bond king — who later joined Janus Capital — left the six bed, eight bath home in Laguna Beach "in a state of utter chaos and disrepair" following the couple's divorce that was settled in October. California's tax assessor values the home at more than $11 million.

Photos published by the paper from the case show a lineup of foul smelling sprays, including "puke smell" and "fart prank," that were allegedly used by Bill.

Read more here.

June 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Response to Sveen v. Melin

Professor Naomi Cahn (GW Law) has posted a response to Sveen v. Melin, 584 U.S. ___ (2018) (Kagan, J.) in the George Washington Law Review:

The Supreme Court rarely considers domestic relations or probate cases; nonetheless, when state statutes regulating insurance benefits and retirement designations upon divorce conflict with federal statutes, the Court has repeatedly held the state statutes preempted. Sveen v. Melin similarly presented issues concerning a state statute affecting beneficiary designations upon divorce and federal law, but the case concerned a potential conflict between the Constitution’s Contracts Clause and a state revocation-upon-divorce statute.

In 1997, Mark Sveen purchased a life insurance policy, and later that year, he married Kaye Melin. The following year, he named her as the primary beneficiary and his two adult children from a prior marriage, Ashley and Antone Sveen, as contingent beneficiaries. Sveen also had additional life insurance, which listed his children as primary beneficiaries. In 2002, years after Sveen had purchased the policy, Minnesota enacted the statute at issue in the case, which states: “[T]he dissolution or annulment of a marriage revokes any revocable . . . beneficiary designation . . . made by an individual to the individual’s former spouse.”

Sveen and Melin divorced in 2007. Their divorce decree did not mention the insurance policy, and Sveen never changed the beneficiary designation. According to Melin, the two of them agreed to keep the other as the primary beneficiary, even after the divorce. In 2011, Sveen died.

Following Sveen’s death, the insurance company filed an interpleader to determine whether the Minnesota statute revoked the beneficiary designation. Sveen’s children, who were the contingent beneficiaries, and Melin crossclaimed for the proceeds. The district court found in favor of the children, but the Eighth Circuit, relying on a case it had decided in 1991 presenting a Contracts Clause challenge to the Oklahoma revocation-upon-divorce statute, reversed, finding in favor of Melin. As in the 1991 case, the Eighth Circuit found that the statute disrupted the expectations of the policyholder, who was entitled to “rely on the law governing insurance contracts as it existed when the contracts were made.” Other circuits, however, had reached the opposite conclusion. The Supreme Court, 8–1, in an opinion authored by Justice Kagan, resolved the issue by finding no Contracts Clause violation.

Read more here.

June 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Papers for AALS 2019


AALS Section on Family and Juvenile Law


 2019 AALS Annual Meeting – Parents’ and Children’s Rights in a Post-Obergefell World

The AALS Section on Family and Juvenile Law is pleased to announce a call for papers from which one to two presenters will be selected for the section’s program at the AALS 2019 Annual Meeting in New Orleans.  

Here is an overview of the panel subject matter:

Recent family law discussions have largely centered on adult intimate relationships, overlooking the significant changes also occurring in the parent-child dyad. This panel will focus on the interplay between parents’ and children’s relational rights, and how these have evolved to reflect demographic realities, new understandings of childhood and adolescent development, and the sea change in marriage jurisprudence. Topics may include definitions of parenthood, including context and number of parents; the balance between parental obligations and rights; the relationship between marriage and cohabitation and parenthood; as well as children’s rights to a voice and influence in their relationships with adults, their own education, and their discipline/freedom from harm.

If you are interested in submitting your paper for consideration, please send it to by Monday August 10, 2018.  Please use “AALS Call for Papers Submission” as the subject line of your email.   We are particularly interested in submissions from junior faculty.  Submissions need not be completed papers, but should be at least 10,000 words.  A committee appointed by the section chairs will review the submitted papers and notify the authors of the selected papers by September 14, 2018.  All panelists, including the panelists selected from this call for papers, are responsible for paying their own annual meeting registration fee and travel expenses.  If you have any questions about the call for papers, please contact Cynthia Godsoe at

June 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

End of Bloomberg BNA’s Family Law Reporter

Today, on June 25, the Bloomberg BNA’s Family Law Reporter is ending, both online and in print.


Hat Tip: Kasia Solon Cristobal, Librarian Tarlton Law Library


June 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Government Proposes New Draft Law to Ban Early Marriage

From Egypt Today:

Egypt's government has proposed a new draft law that includes amendments to the child law article 12 of 1996 which states cases in which parents could be deprived from the authority of guardianship over the girl or her property.

A father who participates in marrying his daughter or son who is under 18 years of age shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of not less than one year and deprived from his guardianship over her or him. Any person who signs such the marriage contract shall be punished by the same penalty.

A marriage registrar who witnesses a case of child marriage shall notify the Attorney General. The marriage registrar who doesn't notify the Attorney General shall be subjected to imprisonment for a period no less than a year.

Read more here.

June 25, 2018 in Child Abuse, Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

No Sex With Foreigners During World Cup, Russian Lawmaker Says


From CNN:

A senior Russian lawmaker has called on her countrywomen not to have sex with foreign men visiting the country during the World Cup, saying Russian women "should give birth to our own."

In an interview with radio station Govorit Moskva, Tamara Pletnyova, the chairperson of the Duma committee on families, women and children, said she was concerned about a rise in single mothers.

Ahead of the quadrennial tournament, which kicks off in Moscow tonight with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia, she said Russian citizens should marry each other and "build a good family, live together, give birth to children and educate them."

Read more here.

June 24, 2018 in Current Affairs, Games, International, Sports, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 23, 2018

USAID Cuts Funding for Family Planning in Africa

From Independent Online:

The Marie Stopes Ladies who drive from village to village in the remote north of Burkina Faso offering free contraception, advice on family planning, sexual health and sometimes abortion, may have to stop work in June.

The ten have been entirely funded by a $1.25 million (about R15.7 million) grant from USAID but the US development agency cut all money for Marie Stopes International when it refused to comply with a rule reinstated by Republican President Donald Trump in January 2017.

It bans funding to any foreign NGO carrying out or offering advice on abortions anywhere. The goal is to please Christian conservatives who strongly oppose abortion and are a major part of Trump's political base.

MSI and the International Planned Parenthood Federation are among only four to reject the conditions of the order. They offer abortion services, in accordance with local rules, and say it is a last resort in preventing unwanted or unsafe births.

Read more here.

June 23, 2018 in Alternative Reproduction, Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 22, 2018

What the Law Says About Grandparents Seeing Grandchildren When Parents Say No

From ABC Radio Brisbane:

It's been 18 months since Anne last saw her grandchildren.

"They're never far from my mind, in any situation," she says.

The Brisbane woman had a falling out with their mother, her daughter, when the children were just a couple of years old.

Since then, Anne's daughter has barred her from seeing the kids.

"My family was very important to me … and I spent a lot of my life as a lot of mums do making sure it went well for my children. And to find now that there's disrespect and [a] break down in communication is difficult," Anne said.

It's a situation faced by many grandparents around Australia, who are cut off from their grandchildren through divorce of the parents, custody issues, or estrangements from their own adult child.

Read more here.

June 22, 2018 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Religious Freedom As An LGBT Issue

From The Hill:

On June 1, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a proclamation for Pride Month, acknowledging the human rights violations that LGBT people face worldwide. However, the International Religious Freedom Report for 2017 — an annual survey on the state of religious freedom in 195 countries released on May 28 — offers a mixed bag for LGBT people at a time when religious liberty increasingly is used as a pretext to license discrimination in the United States. In the months ahead, the State Department should more forcefully promote an inclusive vision of religious liberty that all can enjoy.

In the aftermath of U.S. marriage equality, the rhetoric of religious liberty increasingly has functioned as an excuse to refuse service to LGBT people, women, and others in the United States. Lawmakers have invoked religious freedom to justify discrimination in areas as diverse as employment, education, health care, housing and public accommodations. Similar campaigns pitting religious liberty against LGBT rights have begun abroad, including in debates over marriage equality in Australia and Romania.

Read more here.

June 21, 2018 in Current Affairs, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

North Korea is Hell for Women

From Harper's Bazaar:

At the recent North Korea summit, Kim Jong-un was accompanied by four women, including his own sister. People unfamiliar with North Korea might hope that portends good things regarding gender equality in North Korea.

Bustle reported that, “The presence of these four women is intriguing, but some speculate that their participation could be a strategy primarily intended to impress other world leaders and change how they perceive North Korea.”

I’m hardly a world leader, but I’m not that impressed. That’s because the lives of women in North Korea are hellish, waking nightmares (albeit, if Trump is to be believed, with great views of the beach).

Those cute cheerleaders for North Korea that people loved at the Olympics? The ones whose outfits inspired such complimentary news posts when they performed at the opening ceremony?

They’re sex slaves.

Read more here.

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Valuing a Closely Held Business in Divorce

From McNees Law:

Valuing a closely held business can be a complex endeavor, requiring a through analysis of assets, financial statements, financial claims, earning potential and inherent risks. A host of other factors can also influence the determination. Valuations are especially tricky in the context of contentious divorces involving businesses. In such cases, each spouse should not only have his or her own lawyer, but also a forensic business evaluator to ensure the thoroughness and accuracy required to make an informed decision regarding equitable distribution and to secure the best result.

This article discusses the valuation process and methods used, notes common pitfalls, and offers practical pointers on what to do when divorce is or may be on the horizon.

Whether considering a divorce or facing one where either or both spouses have a closely held business, each spouse should consult a lawyer with extensive experience in handling divorces involving business valuations and in working with forensic business evaluators. That experience is key when determining whether the business has value or is simply providing a job to the owner, when selecting forensic evaluators, reviewing documentation, or challenging the opposing experts’ valuation and in ensuring the best possible outcome for the client. An experienced attorney can streamline the process and avoid the unnecessary expenditure of funds.

Read more here.

June 19, 2018 in Divorce (grounds), Resources - Divorce | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 18, 2018

Medical (or not) Marijuana and Child Custody

From Fox Rothschild, LLP:

Pennsylvania uses the standard “the best interests of the child” when determining custody issues. What happens if the best interest of the child breaks the law? Such is the case in Georgia where parents of a 15 year old boy suffering from epilepsy resorted to marijuana to treat his seizures. Their argument is compelling: their son suffers from debilitating seizures that have not responded to traditional treatment and medical help is forty-five minutes away from them. They feared his seizures would eventually kill him.

Having seemingly exhausted their medical options (including a legal form of marijuana oil in a capsule), they began having their son smoke marijuana. His seizures stopped. However, the state of Georgia’s child welfare agency, acting on a tip, investigated the family and removed the young man from his parents’ care in April. Having gone nearly 70 days without a seizure, on the day he was removed from his home he was hospitalized for a severe seizure. He is in a group home and reports did not mention whether he continued to have seizures, but presumably he has and those facts will emerge later this month when a hearing is held.

Read more here.

June 18, 2018 in Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Honduran Man Kills Himself After Threat of Separation from Family at US Border

From The New York Times:

A Honduran man who was told he would be separated from his family after he had crossed the United States border into Texas with them last month strangled himself in his holding cell, according to Customs and Border Protection officials, public records and media reports.

The man, Marco Antonio Muñoz, crossed the Rio Grande with his wife and 3-year-old son in mid-May near Granjeno, Tex., The Washington Post reported.

In a statement, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman said Mr. Muñoz was apprehended by Border Patrol agents on May 11 for “attempting illegal entry into the United States” and taken to the Rio Grande Valley central processing center.

Read more here.

June 17, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

California Bans Travel to Oklahoma Based on its Discriminatory LBGT Adoption Law

From USA Today:

Add Oklahoma to the list of states to which California is banning state-funded and state-sponsored travel.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Friday that as a result of "discriminatory legislation" that became Oklahoma law last month, the western state will prohibit travel to its midwestern counterpart.

A 2017 California law requires that its attorney general keeps a list of states subject to a state travel ban because of "laws that authorize or require discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression," Becerra's office said in a statement.

Read more here.

June 16, 2018 in Adoption, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to Arkansas Abortion Law

From NPR:

The Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal to a restrictive abortion law in Arkansas that would effectively ban abortions by medication. But this is hardly the end of the line for this case.


The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to hear a challenge to an Arkansas abortion law. The law makes access to abortions more difficult. The result is that Arkansas is now the only state in the country that bans abortion by pill. The method is certified by the Food and Drug Administration as just as safe as surgical abortions but with fewer side effects. The Supreme Court's decision not to intervene in the case at this point, however, is not final, as NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg reports.

Read more here.

June 15, 2018 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)