Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, February 11, 2019

New "No-Fault Divorce" Law

From The Guardian: 

No-fault divorces that could replace the protracted courtroom battles couples often face when separating are to be introduced into law.

The justice secretary, David Gauke, confirmed he will bring in legislation enacting the reform in the next session of parliament, removing the need for separating couples to wait for years or allocate blame for the collapse of their relationship.

Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England and Wales, anyone seeking a divorce must either prove their partner is at fault through adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour, or if both sides agree, they can part after two years of separation. In the absence of consent or evidence of fault, applicants must wait until they have been living apart for five years.

Read more here.

February 11, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Hardship of an Open Adoption

From The Atlantic:

In America today, it’s quite normal for a family to adopt a child and maintain some degree of contact with the child’s birth parents. But as accepted as this is now, it’s a significant departure from the adoption practices that dominated for most of the 20th century, when “closed” adoptions were preferred (that is, adoptions in which children’s biological parents cease to be a part of their life after the adoption).

Slowly, in the later decades of the century, experts came to favor these more open processes. As the journalist-turned-adoption-advocate Adam Pertman wrote in his 2006 book, Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution Is Transforming Our Families—And America, “Social-work and mental-health experts have reached a consensus that greater openness offers an array of benefits for adoptees—from ongoing information about family medical issues to fulfillment of their innate desire to know about their genealogical histories, even if the expanded relationships prove difficult or complicated for some of the participants.”

Some 13 years later, Vanessa McGrady’s new book, Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption, reads like a real-life manifestation of Pertman’s theory on open adoptions—but it sheds some revealing light on the “difficult or complicated” part. Like Pertman, McGrady posits in her book that “open adoption is better … for the mental health of all involved,” but what Rock Needs River does most effectively is lay bare the stressful, painful, psychologically taxing situations that can result from open adoption. (Full disclosure: I am adopted, and my adoption is closed.)

Read more here.

February 10, 2019 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 9, 2019

UK Lawmakers Push to Include Financial Abuse in Domestic Violence Law


The thing Anna remembers most about her 14-year marriage is being broke all the time.

Despite working three jobs for more than 60 hours a week, all of her money went to pay for the utility bills, child care, food and repairs to the house she and her husband owned together just outside London.

It was never enough. Her husband didn’t help financially. Instead, he took out credit cards to go on expensive weekend getaways — without her or their three children.

Anna is a pseudonym — to protect her identity. She says her husband refused to provide for childcare because he thought it was her responsibility as the mother.

Read more here.

February 9, 2019 in Domestic Violence, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 8, 2019

Mom Faces Jail and $14k Sanction for Contempt of Grandparent Visitation Order

From The Indiana Lawyer:

A DeKalb County mother who refused to comply with court-ordered visitation between her children and their paternal grandparents must now serve jail time and pay a $14,000 sanction after the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld visitation and contempt orders on Friday.

The grandparents in D.G. v. W.M., et al., 18A-MI-2115, were awarded visitation time with D.G.’s four children in March 2016 after previously raising the children in their home for several years. Despite that order, the visits between the grandparents and grandchildren generally did not occur, so the grandparents moved to show cause why D.G. should not have been held in contempt.

In response, the trial court ordered that the mother serve 12 days in jail and pay $1,000 in attorney fees. D.G., however, never resumed visits with the grandparents, nor did she go to jail or pay fees.

Read more here.

February 8, 2019 in Contempt, Current Affairs, Visitation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 7, 2019

States Move to Ease Restrictions on Child Sex-Abuse Lawsuits

From PIX 11 News:

In many states across the U.S., victims of long-ago child sex-abuse have been lobbying for years, often in vain, to change statute of limitation laws that thwart their quest for justice. This year seems sure to produce some breakthroughs, due in part to the midterm election results and recent disclosures about abuse by Roman Catholic priests.

New York state is Exhibit A. The Democrats' takeover of the formerly Republican-controlled Senate seems almost certain to produce a more victim-friendly policy in place of one of the nation's most restrictive laws.

Prospects are considered good for similar changes in Rhode Island and New Jersey, and the issue will be raised in Pennsylvania — which became the epicenter of the current abuse crisis in August when a grand jury accused some 300 Catholic priests of abusing more than 1,000 children over seven decades.

Read more here.

February 7, 2019 in Child Abuse, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Pennsylvania Guardianship Rules Change

From JD Supra:

Pennsylvania’s Powers of Attorney and guardianship rules will change in 2019, providing additional protection to the elderly at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.

A guardian is an individual or entity appointed by the Court to make decisions for an incapacitated person. The law in Pennsylvania defines an incapacitated person as, “An adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and communicate decisions in any way is impaired to such a significant extent that he is partially or totally unable to manage his financial resources or to meet essential requirements for his physical health and safety.”

A Judge sitting in Orphan’s Court decides if an individual is incapacitated. The process begins with an interested party filing a Petition with the Court.  Then, a hearing is scheduled.  More persons, referred to as “potentially aggrieved parties” such as a fiancée, best friend or business partner, will need to be served with notice and have the right to legally participate in the hearing. Previously, medical testimony was taken from a doctor or psychologist who has treated or examined the alleged incapacitated person. The new guardianship rules require an “Expert Report” instead of deposition testimony.

Read more here.

February 6, 2019 in Attorneys, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Conversion Therapy

From CNN:

For months, someone was trying to change Andy Taylor's sexuality. He just didn't know it.

"I had no idea what was going on," Taylor recalled, thinking back to a series of unnerving one-on-one meetings with a church leader in Liverpool, England, in 2012. "Even after I quit, I didn't fully realize that what I went to was conversion therapy."
But he was sure of one thing: "I just knew I didn't like it."
Taylor, an openly gay man in his early 20s, had been involved with a local church whose leaders had encouraged him to take therapy sessions. Unbeknownst to him until he stepped inside, the sessions were intended to make him believe that he was straight.
These so-called conversion therapies, also known as reparative treatments, rely on the assumption that sexual orientation can be changed or "cured" -- an idea debunked and discredited by major medical associations in the UK, the United States and elsewhere.
Read more here.

February 6, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Weight of the Conscience Protection Rule on LGBTQ Rights

From Rewire News:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week that it is close to finalizing a conscience protection rule that would allow people to discriminate in health-care settings under cover of law.

The final rule is at the Office of Management and Budget for review and not available to the public. But under the draft rule, which has been made public, health-care providers would be able to refuse to provide treatment, referrals, or assistance with procedures if these activities would violate their stated religious or moral convictions. The deliberately vague language could apply to everyone from receptionists refusing to book appointments to scrub nurses refusing to assist with emergency surgery.

Read more here.

February 5, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Co-Parenting After Divorce

From JD Supra:

In Lehigh County, and in other jurisdictions, parents who have entered the divorce process are ordered to attend a co-parent education class. “Co-parenting” is a term coined by the family law section to encourage cooperative parenting between parties who are no longer married or in a relationship, for the benefit of the child. The Court finds this concept to be so important that it will not allow two divorcing parties to proceed to trial without attending a co-parenting class. If one or both parties refuse or fail to show, the Court will go as far as to hold them in contempt.

Co-parenting does not come naturally. Divorced parents are frequently so focused on splitting up, that coming together to parent shared children can be difficult. As family lawyers, we suggest our clients use a co-parenting counselor, usually a certified therapist, to learn how to co-parent successfully. It can be an uncomfortable process. Recently, a blended family in Texas went viral with their social media post of getting past the uncomfortable phase and successfully co-parenting as a team. While not all families are able to reach that level, we do find that those that utilize a co-parenting counselor are able to work out their issues in session, rather than in court. At the very least, this reduces court filings and can make the process less costly for both parties.

Read more here.

February 5, 2019 in Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, February 4, 2019

Arizona Law Determines Fate of Frozen Embryos in Divorce

From ABA Journal:

For more than two decades, state courts have wrestled with how to settle disputes over frozen embryos when couples divorce or otherwise split. In such cases, one spouse typically wants to keep the embryos to eventually conceive children, while the other doesn’t.

Courts have tended to side with the party who doesn’t wish to be-come a parent on the grounds that no one can be forced to procreate. But at times, rulings have gone the other way—especially in instances where the frozen embryos represent a person’s only chance of having biological children—leaving a split in the courts and uncertainty for litigants.

But a first-of-its-kind law would end that uncertainty in Arizona. The state’s Parental Right to Embryo law, which took effect in July, requires courts in divorce proceedings to award in vitro embryos to the spouse who intends to allow them to “develop to birth.”

Read more here.

February 4, 2019 in Alternative Reproduction, Current Affairs, Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Papers



The Canadian Journal of Family Law invites submissions on Canadian law or the law of other nations on topics related to family law, feminism, and the different norms that drive these two fields of knowledge. We are open to varied topics, methodologies, and disciplines. We also welcome submissions from scholars at different levels of their careers (including graduate students).  

The special issue celebrates the career and contributions of Professor Susan Boyd, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, in family law and feminist theory. A pioneer and innovative scholar, a passionate advocate for law reforms, a generous mentor, and a prolific researcher, Professor Boyd has published 5 books and more than 90 articles, and founded the Center for Feminist Legal Studies at the Peter A. Allard School of Law.  

The issue will be edited by Professor Erez Aloni and Professor Régine Tremblay. Submissions must engage with Professor Boyd’s work and interests, although we will accept degrees of engagement with Professor Boyd’s scholarship. Manuscripts should not exceed 10,000 words and should be submitted by email at before May 31, 2019. A conference celebrating the career and contributions of Professor Boyd will take place May 9–10, 2019, at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia. However, we invite everyone, regardless of participation at the conference, to contribute to this special issue.

February 4, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Child Support Battle

From Yahoo!:

Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines‘ estranged husband Adrian Pasdar is seeking more than $60,000 in monthly combined child and spousal support.

The former Heroes star, 53, asks for $16,427 in child support for their two sons — Jackson, 17, and Beckett, 14 — and $44,076 in spousal support per month, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE. In total, Pasdar is requesting $60,503 in monthly support from Maines, as well as $350,000 to pay for his attorney’s fees.

Pasdar also claims that Maines, 44, has a net worth of $50 million and makes about $2 million a year, which averages to $172,000 a month. Since she is going out on tour in 2019 to promote her solo music, he expects that she will “net millions of dollars of income from that endeavor.”

Read more here.

February 3, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Abortion Bans Proposed in Colorado, Indiana, and Texas

From Rewire News:

Lawmakers in Colorado, Indiana, and Texas want to criminalize abortion, a lawmaker in Oklahoma is trying to prohibit abortion when the sex of the fetus is known, and transgender students are being targeted again in Indiana and South Dakota.


Last Monday, lawmakers in the state house of representatives introduced the “Protect Human Life at Conception Act,” a fetal homicide bill that would prohibit terminating or causing the termination of a pregnancy, beginning at the moment of conception.

Read more here.

February 3, 2019 in Abortion, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Louisiana's Abortion Law

From CNN:

Justice Samuel Alito late Friday temporarily blocked a Louisiana abortion law from going into effect as scheduled on Monday.

Alito said in a brief order that the justices needed more time to review the filings in the case. As such he put the law on hold until February 7. He noted that the order "does not reflect any view regarding the merits" of the case.
Louisiana's Unsafe Abortion Protection Act has been blocked since its enactment in 2014, it requires a doctor to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the abortion is performed.
The state argues that the law is necessary to provide a higher level of physician competence, but critics say there is no medical justification for the law and it amounts to a veiled attempt to unlawfully restrict abortion.
Read more here.

February 2, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 1, 2019

Parents' Protest against Teaching about LGBT Rights in UK School

From BBC News:

Some parents at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham claim the teachings contradict the Islamic faith.

Mariam Ahmed, whose daughter attends the school, has organised a petition against the "No Outsiders" project.

The school said it aimed to educate children so they were able to accept differences in society.

Ms Ahmed said: "Sorry at this age it's totally wrong. Children at this age don't even know if they are coming or going, let alone knowing what sexual orientation they will become."

Asma and Mohammed Jdaitawi added: "It's good to teach children about respect and values but the sexual orientation aspect is against our principles."

Read more here.

February 1, 2019 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)