Family Law Prof Blog

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

Friday, November 30, 2018

Child protection system may be failing both women and children

From The Guardian:

Domestic abuse hurts children, whether they are the direct target, or find themselves witness to warfare in their home. The latest government figures show that half of all children assessed as needing social services support are in that plight through domestic abuse – and when social workers feel a child is no longer safe at home, they can be removed into the care system.

This means being taken away from their mothers – typically the victim in all this. But she’s not usually the one being violent. Most often, it’s the children’s father or stepfather who is. As rates of reported domestic abuse soar – incidents sufficiently serious to be recorded by police as crimes rose 5% between 2016 and 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics – it’s estimated by the charity Safe Lives that 130,000 children live in households with “high‑risk” domestic abuse. So why are victims investigated by social services, rather than the perpetrators who cause such physical and mental harm?

Read more here

November 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

New Frontier in family law

From National Post:

In what is believed to be a legal first in Canada, a court in Newfoundland and Labrador has recognized three unmarried adults as the legal parents of a child born within their “polyamorous” family.

Polyamorous relationships are legal in Canada, unlike bigamy and polygamy, which involve people in two or more marriages.

In this case, the St. John’s family includes two men in a relationship with the mother of a child born in 2017.

“Society is continuously changing and family structures are changing along with it,” says the decision, by Justice Robert Fowler of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court’s family division.

Read more here

November 29, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

More on Genetically-Edited Babies

From The Verge:

It’s still unclear whether researcher He Jiankui truly used a powerful gene-editing tool called CRISPR cas-9 to enhance the ability of twin girls (“Lulu” and “Nana”) to resist HIV. Nobody has independently verified any data and nothing has been published in a journal. Still, Jiankui’s alleged actions have already been widely denounced. “There was inadequate regulation and no serious oversight,” says Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University. “It’s ethically Swiss cheese, more holes than substance.” Especially egregious, he adds, is that the alleged editing was not to repair or fix a mutated gene (that is, fix a genetic disease like Tay-Sachs) but to enhance a capacity. “That’s taking a step down the road of eugenics,” Caplan says. “For one of the most important experiments you could do in the history of eugenics, we’re stepping off the ethical cliff with no ropes or safeguards or protections.”

Now, predicts Caplan, there will be pressure on the Chinese government to respond and clarify its own policy toward genetic engineering of embryos. One common narrative is that lax Chinese regulations are to blame for these experiments, but that’s not the entire story. Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, where Jiankui is a professor, has stated that it wasn’t aware of the researchChinese health institutions have already distanced themselves from Jiankui, and the country’s National Health Commission has asked for an investigation. And though countries around the world are investing in the technology and research, there is no international framework governing this type of engineering. (Perhaps the closest we’ve come is a 2015 panel of UNESCO experts calling for a moratorium on the research.) A wealthy individual in any country could have privately funded a similar experiment.

In the US, Congress prohibits federal dollars from funding research into genetically editing embryos, says Naomi Cahn, a professor at George Washington University Law School who specializes in reproductive technology. But gene-editing embryos itself is not prohibited — and even if it was banned here, it could lead to reproductive tourism and wealthy couples traveling abroad for their designer babies. “This shows the need for regulators to start rethinking approaches and how to develop more guidelines, both on a domestic and international level,” says Cahn.

Read more here.

November 28, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Gender Reveal Party Starts Wildfire

From CNN:

Oh boy. A video released by the US Forest Service shows the moment when a gender reveal party in Arizona went horribly wrong, sparking a wildfire that burned nearly 47,000 acres and caused more than $8 million in damage.

Shot on April 23, 2017, the clip shows a makeshift target with the words "Boy" and "Girl" written on it, placed in the middle of the desert near Green Valley, Arizona, south of Tucson.
Seconds later we hear a gunshot, and the target explodes, revealing a blue cloud and immediately igniting the surrounding brush. Someone shouts, "Start packing up!"
Read more here.

November 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy "Good Divorce Week"

From the Financial Times:

Next week is “Good Divorce Week” (yes, there really is such a thing). It was dreamt up by the family law association, Resolution, with the aim of helping couples resolve their issues in a more constructive way, and in particular, minimise the impact on their children. For most people — especially those going through a separation — a “good divorce” sounds like an oxymoron. Contentious splits are likely to involve a lot of wasted time, anger and money. The campaign aims to reduce the damage to families and their finances.

Read more here.

November 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Genetically Edited Babies Not Here Yet Despite Claims

From BBC:

Significant doubts have emerged about claims from a Chinese scientist that he has helped make the world's first genetically edited babies.

Prof He Jiankui says the twin girls, born a few weeks ago, had their DNA altered as embryos to prevent them from contracting HIV.

His claims, filmed by Associated Press, are unverified and have sparked outrage from other scientists, who have called the idea monstrous.

Such work is banned in most countries.

Read more here.

November 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Ex-Ohio Judge arrested in connection to murder of ex-wife

From The New York Times: 

A former Ohio judge who served nine months in prison for brutally beating his wife in 2014 in front of their children, punching her 20 times and fracturing a bone in her face, was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of fatally stabbing her at her suburban Cleveland home, the authorities said.

The police encountered the former judge, Lance Mason, Saturday morning as he was driving a sport-utility vehicle away from her house in Shaker Heights and slammed into an officer’s patrol car, the authorities said. It was not clear whether the officer was responding to a call when Mr. Mason struck the car.

Mr. Mason, 51, a former high-ranking Democratic state lawmaker and a top county prosecutor, had not been formally charged as of Monday morning in the death of his wife, Aisha Fraser Mason, 45.

Read more here

November 26, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Stormy Daniels' Lawyer Arrested On Suspicions of Domestic Violence

From CNN:

Attorney Michael Avenatti has been placed under arrest on suspicion of felony domestic violence and was booked early Wednesday evening.

Los Angeles Police Department officer Jeff Lee said the domestic violence report was taken on Tuesday in West Los Angeles and the arrest was made Wednesday.
"We can confirm that today LAPD Detectives arrested Michael Avenatti on suspicion of domestic violence. This is an ongoing investigation and we will provide more details as they become available," the LAPD Twitter account posted Wednesday.
In a statement, Avenatti called the allegations "completely bogus."
Read more here

November 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Abortion Debate Intensifies After 2 States Pass Amendment Removing Abortion Protections

From Fox News Network:

As a piano and violin music play in the background, a sonogram shows a fetus moving in a mother’s stomach as text appears, saying: “Be a voice for the voiceless, Vote YES on Amendment 2.”

This was one of three digital ads produced by the Alabama Republican Party leading up to the midterm elections in support of a ballot measure proposed by state Rep. Matt Fridy.

Amendment 2 recognizes the “the rights of unborn children” and clarifies that the state’s constitution “does not protect the right to an abortion or require funding of abortion.”

Alabamians passed the amendment with 59 percent of the vote.

Read more here

November 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 23, 2018

Does "Birdnesting" Work For Children of Divorce?

From NBC News:

No matter how you spin it, getting divorced is tough — especially if you have kids. Even if the decision to part ways is clearly the best (or only) one, the resulting separation can be traumatizing for children. Research shows that the best way to avoid risking the well-being of kids going through this difficult process, is to keep it as low-conflict and amicable as possible.

How do you do that? For some divorcing or divorced parents, the answer is ‘nesting’ (also called 'birdnesting'). This means to keep the family residence intact as a home where both parents rotate living with their children, while otherwise dwelling in separate residences.

Read more here

November 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Ohio Father Sought Custody of His Children 6 Days After Murdering Their Mother

From NBC News:

A man accused with his family of gunning down the mother of his child and seven members of her family on their Ohio marijuana farm sought custody of his daughter just six days after the killings.

Edward "Jake" Wagner, 26, was arrested Tuesday in the murders of his ex-girlfriend, Hanna Rhoden, and seven members of her family. His father, George "Billy" Wagner III, 47; mother, Angela, 48; and older brother, George Wagner IV, 27; are also charged in the April 22, 2016, killing spree.

Read more here

November 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy Thanksgiving

leaves falling on pumpkin

November 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

3 Ways to Save on Taxes, Post-Divorce

From Forbes:

Divorce is expensive. Few households live on less than 50% of their income so splitting it in two almost always results in a lifestyle adjustment no matter how much money and income the family has. For families where one spouse is the primary breadwinner, going through a divorce is about to get even more expensive. Alimony, also called spousal support or maintenance, has been deductible by the payer and taxable to the receiving spouse for decades. This tax deduction is very important as it results in less money to the government and more money to split between the two households.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the tax deduction for alimony in new divorces settled after December 31, 2018. Not only will alimony payers lose the deduction, some may be pushed into a higher tax bracket without it. And, they'll still have to pay the spousal support with the fewer available dollars. For those reasons, couples going through a divorce where alimony is an issue are highly motivated to settle soon. Finalizing this year will grandfather them into existing rules allowing them to deduct alimony in future years as well.

Read more here

November 21, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Florida Woman Accused of Defrauding 2 Couples

From NBC News: 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A Florida woman is accused of defrauding two sets of would-be parents, telling both that they would adopt her baby.

Now 33-year-old Christina Bay is awaiting trial, along with childbirth.

Daytona Beach police tell news outlets Bay was arrested Wednesday on charges of adoption deception and fraud.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that on Oct. 22, adoption attorney Brian Kelly told police that a couple he represents funded a $15,000 escrow account to cover Bay's living expenses for six months. The couple thought they were adopting Bay's baby, due Nov. 22.

Read more here

November 20, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 19, 2018

What Happens Children Get Un-Adopted?

From The Atlantic:

The little girl in the photograph squints and smiles broadly in the sunlight. According to a now-deleted public post on Second Chance Adoptions’ Facebook page, the girl, who the agency calls “Reese” to protect her privacy, is 10 years old, and she has been a member of her family since she was born—first in foster care, then legally adopted just before her first birthday. She loves to laugh, her adopted mom says, and she smiles all the time. She loves pink. She has no special needs. But she needs a new home.

In other posts with more pictures, the reader learns that Reese is the youngest of four daughters; the other three are the biological children of her parents. She gets straight A’s. She loves her parents and her sisters. She grumbles only when her siblings ask her to clean her room. She rarely lies and loves to wear skirts and dresses and listen to music. But according to the information provided by her parents, “This family has drastically changed their lifestyle and have left their faith and extended family for a quiet, secluded life.” It is their hope that “a different family will step forward who can provide her with the socialization and continued relationship with God that she desires.” After spending her whole life thus far with her family, Reese was being advertised on Facebook and the internet at large as available for re-adoption.

Read more here


November 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

DC Schools to Give Families "Non-Binary" Option

From The Washington Post:

The District’s public school system is slated to become among the first in the nation to let families select “non-binary” — rather than male or female — when indicating the gender of their child on enrollment forms.

The option is scheduled to go into effect for the next school year, and school system leaders said it is part of a broader effort to ensure that transgender and non-binary students feel welcome in classrooms in the nation’s capital.

“We value the whole child at [D.C. Public Schools], and have worked diligently to ensure our schools are safe and inclusive for all students, staff, and families,” interim chancellor Amanda Alexander said in a statement. “Whether through policies, programs, affinity groups, or our enrollment forms, [D.C. Public Schools] is proud to be a leader in affirming, supporting and welcoming LGBTQ students.”

Read more here.

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

Vaccine Disputes in Divorced Florida Families


Floridians sometimes have differences of opinion about whether vaccinations are safe for children. When a divorcing, divorced or unmarried parent’s belief about whether vaccinations are in the best interests of his or her children conflict with that of the other parent, it is a good idea to talk to an attorney about legal issues and potential legal remedies, depending on the circumstances.

First, there may be government or school regulations or policies requiring certain vaccinations as well as opt-out procedures in some cases. An attorney can advise you about this in your particular jurisdiction.

Parents may be able to negotiate a settlement agreement that determines who has legal responsibility and rights to make medical decisions for the child like whether to vaccinate. An agreement concerning custody matters such as parental responsibility for major life decisions like those concerning health care is called a parenting plan.

Read more here.

November 18, 2018 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Birdnesting Gives Kids One Home After Divorce. Does It work?

From NBC news:

No matter how you spin it, getting divorced is tough — especially if you have kids. Even if the decision to part ways is clearly the best (or only) one, the resulting separation can be traumatizing for children. Research shows that the best way to avoid risking the well-being of kids going through this difficult process, is to keep it as low-conflict and amicable as possible.

How do you do that? For some divorcing or divorced parents, the answer is ‘nesting’ (also called 'birdnesting'). This means to keep the family residence intact as a home where both parents rotate living with their children, while otherwise dwelling in separate residences.

Sherri Sharma, partner at Aronson, Mayefsky & Sloan, LLP, a matrimonial law firm in NYC typically sees divorcing parents who take a nesting approach by keeping the main house and then sharing a separate apartment, which they individually occupy when not “at home” with the children.

Read more here.

November 17, 2018 in Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Russian Polygamist with Three wives

From Daily Mail Online:

A Russian polygamist with three 'wives' has revealed he punishes them by banning sex for a month if they annoy him.

Ivan Sukhov, 34, from the city of Vladimir in Russia's western Vladimir Oblast region, says he dreams of having more wives and at least 50 children.

According to Russian law, he can only have one official wife. His other two partners live with him by mutual agreement. 

Before becoming a polygamist, Sukhov lived with his legal wife Natalia Sukhova for 11 years.

Read more here

November 11, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

“Stick a spoon” in marital dispute: Domestic violence is Everyone's Business!

From The New York Times:

Sao Paulo, Brazil -The scenes, captured by security cameras, are gruesome: A man pummels and kicks his wife in the garage of their building. She tries to flee, but he forces her into the elevator. They go up to their fifth-floor apartment.

Less than 20 minutes later, he takes the elevator back down — to fetch her bloody, lifeless body, which had plummeted to the sidewalk below.

The footage from the night of July 22, first broadcast Sunday on the popular television program Fantástico, has been playing repeatedly on national television. The graphic, blow-by-blow view into what domestic violence really looks like is challenging the widespread notion that you shouldn’t “stick a spoon” in marital disputes.

Read more here

November 10, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)