Family Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Cost of Divorce in Each State

From USA Today:

Using survey data presented in Martindale Nolo Research’s 2015 divorce study, 24/7 Wall St. determined the average cost of a divorce in each state. All other factors being equal, the cost of a divorce ranges from as little as $8,400 to as much as $17,500.

States with higher divorce costs tend to have overall higher costs of living. Of the 10 states where divorces are most expensive, only two have a lower than average cost of living.

Whether or not high costs help discourage divorce is unclear, but divorces are generally less common in the 10 states where the process is most expensive. Georgia and Colorado are the only states with the highest divorce costs where a larger share of the 15 and older population is divorced than the 10.9 percent national share.

Read more here.

December 12, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Strauss: "What's Wrong with Obergefell"

Gregg Strauss has posted to SSRN his paper What's Wrong with Obergefell, Cardozo Law Review (forthcoming).  Here is the abstract:

Although Obergefell v. Hodges was a historic victory for progressive constitutional law, the Supreme Court’s glorification of marriage created widespread anxiety among progressive family law scholars. Yet, the critics have still not explained why this marriage rhetoric arouses such moral indignation. Some critics predict Obergefell’s rhetoric will shape family and constitutional law in ways that harm nonmarital families, but these forecasts rely on weak doctrinal arguments and cynical speculation about judicial behavior. Others argue Obergefell’s rhetoric was gratuitously insulting. Is that as deep as the objection goes?

Obergefell’s glorification of marriage is wrong, not because it was harmful or hurtful, but because its rhetoric denies the equal dignity of citizens in nonmarital families. For a state to treat all citizens as equals, officials must justify the law with reasons that all can accept as reasonable, even if mistaken. That is why Obergefell could justifiably ignore religious objections to same-sex marriage. If marriage law rests on the idea that different-sex relationships are more valuable, then it treats gay and lesbian persons as second-class citizens who enjoy full legal rights only if they adopt someone else’s vision of the good life. Unfortunately, Obergefell commits a similar sin. The Court glorifies marriage as a secular ideal for family life and authorizes states to encourage marriage as an ideal family form. People in nonmarital families cannot accept this as a reasonable basis for law. Obergefell’s glorification of marriage violates the ideal of public reason in a way that denigrates nonmarital families and contradicts the opinion’s own legal commitment to equal dignity.

December 11, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Dnes: "Economics and Family Law"

Antony Dnes has posted to SSRN his chapter Economics and Family Law from Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Economics and Finance (forthcoming).  Here is the abstract:

Economists increasingly connect legal changes to behavioral responses that many family-law experts fail to see. Incentives matter in families, which respond to changes in legal regulation. Changing incentive structures linked to family law have largely affected marriage, cohabitation and divorce. Economic analysis has been applied to assess the causes of falling marriage rate and delays in marriage. Much analysis has focused on increases in divorce rates, which appear to respond to legal changes making divorce easier and to different settlement regimes. Less work has been done in relation to children but some does exist showing how children are impacted by changes in incentives affecting adults.

December 10, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Call for Applications


The University of Baltimore School of Law is accepting applications for the position of Deputy Director of its Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC).  Founded in 2000, CFCC enjoys a national and international reputation.  CFCC’s mission is to create, foster, and support a movement to integrate communities, families and the justice system to improve the lives of families and the health of the community.  The Deputy Director works closely with CFCC’s Director to advance the center’s interests and advocacy work and to collaborate with organizations whose missions align with that of CFCC.

The successful candidate will have the experience and ability to provide expertise in family law and family justice system issues, secure grants and meet grant reporting requirements, offer technical assistance on family court reform projects and evaluations, assist in the development of educational syllabi and materials, initiate and help to shape CFCC publications, and oversee CFCC staff and law students’ projects and experiential work, among other responsibilities.  The position is a 12-month, full-time position with excellent benefits.  Required experience includes a J.D. degree plus five to ten years in the practice of family law or family advocacy, expertise in family justice system issues, excellent writing skills with a record of publications, and demonstrable success in securing grants and complying with required reports.  For more information, contact Professor Barbara Babb, CFCC’s Director, at or 410-837-5661.  To apply, please visit this link:



December 9, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Parness: "Faithful Parents: Choice of Childcare Parentage Laws"

Jeffrey A. Parness has posted to SSRN his paper Faithful Parents: Choice of Childcare Parentage Laws, Mercer Law Review (forthcoming 2019).  Here is the abstract:

In July 2017, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) approved and recommended for enactment in all U.S. states a new Uniform Parentage Act (2017 UPA). This act follows the 1973 and 2000 UPAs which have been widely adopted. While all three UPAs recognize forms of childcare parentage beyond biological ties (in and outside of marital births) and formal adoptions, the 2017 UPA is quite expansive in its provisions on such forms, including de facto parentage, voluntary acknowledgment parentage, and intended parentage of children born of assisted reproduction. These expanded forms of childcare parentage, relevant to child custody, visitation and support, are chiefly dependent on childcare agreements and/or parental-like acts rather than on blood ties or formal adoptions.

This article focuses on the choice of law problems arising with these expanded forms of childcare parentage. First, it reviews the UPA sections on choice of law and on the expansive forms of childcare parentage. Second, it demonstrates the challenging choice of law issues when childcare parentage disputes arise only after interstate moves, but depend upon premove behavior which is not precise (like giving birth) or which occurs at no particular time (like marriage to a birth mother at the time of birth). Third, the article posits that notwithstanding the UPA declarations that forum laws apply when adjudicating parentage, state courts should expressly recognize that sometimes forum laws include their own choice of law rules. Such a recognition should be also included in an amended 2017 UPA. This approach follows precedents on choosing between conflicting state laws in and outside of family law settings. It also honors reasonable expectations, lessens forum shopping, and avoids Full Faith and Credit difficulties where there are parentage-related “public acts,” as with voluntary parentage acknowledgments.

Finally, the article further posits that the 2017 UPA and state courts should establish some special choice of law rules. Special rules should operate, for example, when courts hear challenges to voluntary parentage acknowledgments (VAPs). Here, the VAP challenge laws of the state where the VAP was filed should be applied.

December 8, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 7, 2018

Redburn: "Zoned Out: How Zoning Law Undermines Family Law's Functional Turn"

Kate Redburn has posted to SSRN her paper Zoned Out: How Zoning Law Undermines Family Law's Functional Turn, Yale Law Journal (forthcoming).  Here is the abstract:

A fundamental contradiction in the legal definition of family lurks at the intersection of family law and zoning law. One set of doctrines has increasingly recognized the claims of “functional families,” the other has come to rely on the definition of “formal family”- those related by blood, marriage or adoption. As a result, the “functional turn” in family law is undermined or unstable in at least 32 states. Using original legal analysis and historical research, this paper illuminates that contradiction, explains how it came about, and argues that it must be resolved in favor of functional families. After a brief introduction (Part I), Part II surveys the “functional turn” in state family law, while Part III offers a novel history of the definition of family in zoning law, which I call the “formal turn.” Part IV offers normative and practical reasons why the definition of familyshould be loosened, offering recommendations for legislative and judicial solutions.

December 7, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Treatment Depends on Marital Status

From the Chicago Tribune:

If you are divorced, widowed or never married and develop cancer, watch out. You may get less aggressive treatment than your married friends.

We've often heard about studies showing that married adults are more likely to survive cancer than singles. But buried in those same studies is another finding that hasn't made the headlines. When surgery or radiotherapy is the treatment of choice, patients with spouses are more likely to get it.

Read more here.

December 6, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Sex Recession

From the Atlantic:

These should be boom times for sex.

The share of Americans who say sex between unmarried adults is “not wrong at all” is at an all-time high. New cases of HIV are at an all-time low. Most women can—at last—get birth control for free, and the morning-after pill without a prescription.

If hookups are your thing, Grindr and Tinder offer the prospect of casual sex within the hour. The phrase If something exists, there is porn of it used to be a clever internet meme; now it’s a truism. BDSM plays at the local multiplex—but why bother going? Sex is portrayed, often graphically and sometimes gorgeously, on prime-time cable. Sexting is, statistically speaking, normal.

Polyamory is a household word. Shame-laden terms like perversion have given way to cheerful-sounding ones like kink. Anal sex has gone from final taboo to “fifth base”—Teen Vogue (yes, Teen Vogue) even ran a guide to it. With the exception of perhaps incest and bestiality—and of course nonconsensual sex more generally—our culture has never been more tolerant of sex in just about every permutation.

But despite all this, American teenagers and young adults are having less sex.

To the relief of many parents, educators, and clergy members who care about the health and well-being of young people, teens are launching their sex lives later. From 1991 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey finds, the percentage of high-school students who’d had intercourse dropped from 54 to 40 percent. In other words, in the space of a generation, sex has gone from something most high-school students have experienced to something most haven’t. (And no, they aren’t having oral sex instead—that rate hasn’t changed much.)

Read more here.

December 5, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

"Emotional Labor" Definition Correction

From the Atlantic:

[The term "emotional labor"] was first coined by the sociologist Arlie Hochschild in her 1983 book on the topic, The Managed Heart. Emotional labor, as she conceived it, referred to the work of managing one’s own emotions that was required by certain professions. Flight attendants, who are expected to smile and be friendly even in stressful situations, are the canonical example. In recent years, the term’s popularity has grown immensely—Google searches for it are up, and it’s being mentioned more and more in books and academic articles.

Many people who write about emotional labor do tip their hats to Hochschild, and acknowledge that they are expanding her original definition, but the umbrella of emotional labor has grown so large that it’s starting to cover things that make no sense at all, such as regular household chores, which are not emotional so much as they are labor, full stop. “Really, I’m horrified,” Hochschild said of the concept creep when I called her to set the record straight.

Read more here.

December 4, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 3, 2018

Americans Waiting Longer to Marry

From the U.S. Census Bureau:

Adults in the United States are increasingly delaying saying “I Do” as the median age at first marriage continues to climb, according to new data released today by the Census Bureau.

The median age at first marriage in the United States has continued to rise in recent years from 27.1 and 25.3 years in 2003 for males and females, respectively, to 29.8 and 27.8 years in 2018. This upward trend is consistent with other changes to U.S. households and family structure according to new tables released today by the Census Bureau. 

Read more here.

December 3, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Michelle Obama Skeptical of Leaning In

From the Cut:

Michelle Obama set the record straight during an appearance at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night, one of the many stops on her Becoming book tour. Speaking about work life balance, and finding a way to excel in your career and marriage, Obama spoke frankly about what works and what doesn’t — and that the expectation of “having it all” isn’t always feasible.

Read more here.

December 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Increase in Travel for Abortions

From the Chicago Tribune:

One woman came to Chicago by bus from Indianapolis in mid-2017, pregnant but with medical complications that would have made labor and delivery potentially dangerous. Another woman traveled here from Wisconsin in March because she didn’t have the financial means or will to have a baby.

Although they were strangers, 28-year-old Timna Axel hosted them in her Uptown neighborhood apartment for a few nights before and after their abortions at local clinics. Axel is a volunteer with Midwest Access Coalition, a Chicago nonprofit that helps defray the costs associated with traveling to terminate a pregnancy, including lodging, food and transportation.

“It seems like a lot of these (nearby) states have increased the barriers to abortion and other health care for women in recent years,” she said. “It doesn’t seem right there should be this island of health care access in Chicago.”

More women are crossing state lines to have abortions in Illinois, according to the latest statistics from the Illinois Department of Public Health, which were released earlier this week.

Last year, 5,528 women traveled to Illinois from other states to terminate pregnancies, almost a thousand more than the 4,543 women who came from out of state in 2016. The total number of abortions statewide during the same period increased slightly, from 38,382 in 2016 to 39,329 in 2017, according to annual state reports. Of those, about 1,000 abortions each year were provided to women whose home states were marked “unknown.”

While the data doesn’t indicate the reason for out-of-state travel, Illinois is generally considered a reproductive rights haven amid the more restrictive Midwest, where women often face waiting periods, gestational limits, fewer clinics and other hurdles. 

Read more here.

December 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

More shelters for disabled domestic violence victims in Wales

From BBC News:

Disability access at women's refuges is patchy across Wales with some areas having only one or no accessible places, figures for the BBC suggest.

About 30% of the 157 of refuge spaces in Wales are accessible to those with a disability, according to responses to a Freedom of Information request.

Welsh Women's Aid said disabled women were more likely to be in an abusive relationship than non-disabled women.

The charity said the issues were putting lives at risk.

Read more here

December 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fewer Marriages = Fewer Divorces

From Time:

Have you heard that statistic that half of all marriages will end in divorce? It’s wrong. Even if that many marriages ever did disintegrate at one point, they don’t now. Divorce is on the decline and has been since the 1980s in America(when that 50% divorce statistic took hold). Experts now put your chances of uncoupling at about 39% in the U.S. This sounds like such promising news. Families are sticking together! But in practice, this does not mean more people are living happily ever after.

The drop in divorce statistics seems to be, in large part, due to the much-maligned Millennials making their marital vows stick far more often. One recent study says that, compared to their 2008 counterparts, young people in 2016 were 18% less likely to get divorced. That study has not been peer-reviewed but is echoed by the trend in the U.K., which keeps much more robust divorce data. Young Brits’ marriages are 27% more likely to make it through their first decade — the prime divorcing years — than those who got hitched in the ’80s.

So have millennials cracked the code on having and holding as long as they both shall live? Not exactly. One reason divorce is less common among that age group is that marriage — and all of its advantages, from survivor benefits for social security to healthier children to a lower chance of heart attack — is becoming more selective. Once considered a starting block for young people, a launchpad to get them underway as they took the plunge, getting married is now more of a high diving board, a platform for publicly demonstrating that they’ve achieved. The people getting all those marital advantages are those with the most advantages to begin with.

Read more here.

December 2, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Man who fathered 200 children

From The Guardian:

Louis used to cycle to thecycle sperm bank, his deposit in a bag. He needed to make it in good time to preserve the contents of each specimen jar, which he placed in a warmed cabinet when he arrived. In the evenings, when men arrived after work, there would sometimes be social events at the sperm bank, with tea and cake. Other sperm banks – he was a regular donor at three – were more perfunctory, with small rooms for donations and the usual magazines.

Like most of the donors, Louis preferred not to linger, but to pedal back to his modest flat in northern Holland and a life he felt was so ordinary that it almost blurred into the background. He was in his early 30's and lived alone, working as a bank clerk. He had no girlfriend, nor any close friends or family.

Read more here


December 1, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)