Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

Child Support Website Ineffective

From the Wichita Eagle:

A Kansas government website that posted photos of people who owed thousands of dollars in child support has been taken down after it caught only one man in a year.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families took down the Child Support Evaders website about a week ago — about a year after it was launched under a different governor.

“It had little to no traffic and was not an effective tool in locating child support evaders,” DCF spokesman Mike Deines said. “Only one evader was caught during the time the site was live.”

Read more here.

April 29, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Blame Game in U.K. Divorce

From Bloomberg:

London courts have long been home to some of the world’s most expensive and acrimonious divorces. Celebrities and scores of wealthy bankers have been caught up in ugly courtroom battles that have -- at least in part -- been triggered by archaic rules that forced one spouse to blame the other for the breakup.

But the days when Heather Mills poured a jug of water over the head of Paul McCartney’s lawyer during their divorce may soon be over. A proposed change to U.K. laws may make splitting up more attractive, and less painful, for London’s wealthy.

A government proposal earlier this month will end the requirement that a spouse needs to blame their partner. Without the need to assign fault, wealthy individuals may file for divorce earlier and end up with a less emotional process.

“This moves it away from the blame game,” said Pauline Fowler, whose law firm Hughes Fowler Carruthers represented private-equity executive Randy Work and other financiers. “People won’t waste money on an argument that has no bearing on anything other than why the marriage broke down.”

The proposals introduced last week by Justice Secretary David Gauke replace the previous grounds for divorce with a simple requirement that a person says their marriage has irretrievably broken down. It creates the possibility of a joint application and removes the ability of a party to contest a split.

Read more here.



April 28, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Tax Strategies for Alimony

From the New York Times:

Strip out the acrimony and emotion, and divorce can be boiled down to a business negotiation. Harsh as that may sound — there are often children stuck in the middle — when a couple gets down to completing their split, the numbers matter: assets, support, time allotted with children.

Divorce negotiations are never easy, and they became more complicated this year. The Republican lawmakers’ sweeping overhaul of the tax code changed many of the calculations that factor into the logistics of divorce.

Many Americans learned this year how tax changes affected their return, with some people owing more than they had expected. But others are realizing a slew of unforeseen consequences.

Read more here.

April 27, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Question for Miss Manners on Ex-Families

A question for Miss Manners in the Washington Post:

Can Miss Manners please create a directive of proper etiquette between about-to-be-ex families? I can't believe I'm the only person to face this very awkward and sad situation.

Read her answer here.

April 26, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Cahn: "The Golden Years, Gray Divorce, Pink Caretaking, and Green Money"

Naomi Cahn (GW) has posted to SSRN her article The Golden Years, Gray Divorce, Pink Caretaking, and Green Money, 52 Fam. L. Q. 57 (2018).  Here is the abstract:

This Article considers the impact of changing family structures on aging in contemporary America. It looks at two critical and interrelated aspects of aging—economic security and caretaking—and offers policy suggestions on how to improve the financial stability of and caretaking possibilities for elders. The core thesis is that our current social, legal, and economic structure for growing old is organized around the nuclear family with respect to both caretaking and financial security. As family structures change in terms of partnering (and re-partnering and non-partnering) and number of children, and with the increase in economic inequality, support for old age needs to change as well. Nonetheless, notwithstanding changing family forms and roles and economic disparities, we have not made the requisite changes to prepare for the forthcoming silver tsunami.

April 25, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Stay-At-Home Parents & Divorce Property Consequences

From Naomi Cahn (GW), writing for Forbes:

MacKenzie Bezos helped Jeff start Amazon – and then stayed home to take care of the family (and become a successful novelist). She is one of the more than one-quarter of American mothers who stay home (only 7% of men do so).  That number includes about 10% of all highly educated mothers (those with a master’s degree or higher)  who opt out of the workplace to take care of their families. These women opt out to support the careers of their husbands and to engage in the intensive mothering that is expected of them.

While the women may explain they are voluntarily deciding to stay home, that choice gets strong public support: more than half of Americans believe that mothers will do a better job of caring for a new baby than believe that both mothers and fathers would be equally good -- and only 1% believe that fathers, not mothers, would provide better care. Thus, “for many heterosexual couples, it’s more of a foregone conclusion.”

When these women get divorced, the law in virtually all states requires that property be distributed equitably, but only a few states require equal distribution.

That’s where this gets complicated. Should the caretaking that stay-at-home moms do be valued as equal to the breadwinning of their husbands?  Consider whether that means the stay-at-home mom should be entitled to half of all assets, and whether we do not adequately “ value the often invisible and unpaid labor that so many women do to enable their husbands to build wealth and find professional success.”

Read more here.

April 24, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Court Rules in Favour of Same-Sex Parents in Foster Care in Philadelphia

From AP News:

Philadelphia city government can require that contractor Catholic Social Services does not discriminate against same-sex couples in its foster care program, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the city after it stopped placing children with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s agency because it would not permit same-sex couples to serve as foster parents.

The court ruled the city did not target the agency because of its religious beliefs but acted only to enforce its own nondiscrimination policy in the face of what seemed to be a clear violation.

Read more here.

April 23, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 22, 2019

All Male College To Begin Admission of Transgender Students Who Identify as Men By 2020

From CNN News: 

Morehouse College, a historically black all-men's school in Atlanta, will begin admitting transgender students who identify as men in 2020, according to a news release from the school.

The new policy, known as the Gender Identity Admissions and Matriculation Policy, applies to all students who enroll in the private college by the fall 2020 semester.

The announcement comes after Spelman College, a private historically black all-women's school in Atlanta, adopted a similar policy in 2017.

Read more here.


April 22, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Ohio's Fetal Abortion Ban Is Latest In Roe v. Wade Battle

From The New York Times:

Ohio on Thursday became the latest state to ban abortion at the first signs of a fetal heartbeat, the latest front in the decades-long campaign by conservatives to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The new measure, signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, would ban abortions as early as six weeks, before many women realize they are pregnant. The law is set to take effect in July, but that may be held up by legal challenges. The American Civil Liberties Union has already said it plans to sue.

Read more here

April 21, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 20, 2019

South Korea Court Strikes Down Abortion Ban

From NPR:

A euphoric smile spread across the face of an activist, who goes by the name Jisoo, as she announced in a trembling voice, "It's ruled unconstitutional!"

South Korea's Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down the country's laws prohibiting abortion, a landmark decision challenging the 66-year-old ban that had become increasingly unpopular in recent years.

After the announcement of the ruling, an uproarious cheer and cries of relief broke out from a couple hundred protesters outside the courthouse. A coalition of women's rights activists, legal and medical experts and feminist scholars declared victory, after years of campaigning for the laws' repeal.

Read more here

April 20, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 19, 2019

Twins Ordered to Pay Child Support After Inconclusive Paternity Test

From New York Post:

Identical twin brothers in Brazil have both been ordered to pay child support to a young girl after allegedly impersonating each other to trick as many women as possible into sex.

The twins, identified only as Fernando and Fabricio in court, tried to shirk responsibility for the girl as DNA tests came back inconclusive.

The mystifying results are said to have failed to provide a solid answer because the men are so genetically similar.

Read more here

April 19, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

No-Fault Divorce Reform Can Salvage Familial Functions

From The Guardian:

Lawyers have welcomed government plans to introduce no-fault divorce, saying the changes would allow families to function after a marriage breakdown.

The government announced on Tuesday that divorce laws in England and Wales would be changed as soon as parliamentary time became available.

Under the existing Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, a spouse has to prove their partner is at fault through adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour for divorce proceedings to start.

Read more here

April 18, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

AAML Disapproves of Brunei's New Penal Code

From PR Newswire:

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML),, condemns the introduction of the Brunei revised penal code, which mandates the death penalty for offences including adultery and extramarital sexual relations and homosexual acts.  

"The penal codes of states and countries should not criminalize sexual acts between consenting adults. The cruel and inhuman and degrading punishments contained in the Brunei legislation have no place in any modern legal system," said AAML President Peter Walzer, who is also founding partner of Los Angeles-area family law firm Walzer Melcher. "This legislation is an affront to international human rights. The AAML strongly condemns Brunei's penal code." 

Read more here

April 17, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Report Tracks Possible Changes to Australian Family Law System

From The Conversation: 

After years of uncertainty about the future of the family law system, the next government now has a clear roadmap for how to amend the law, and improve the system of justice, for all those unfortunate enough to go through a relationship breakdown.

The Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) report, published on April 10, is the result of 18 months of work, initially under the leadership of Professor Helen Rhoades. The President of the ALRC, the Honourable Justice Sarah Derrington, led the project in its later stages.

Read more here

April 16, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 15, 2019

Divvying Up Online Subscriptions

From the Wall Street Journal:

When Aimee Custis and Kian McKellar broke up after four years of dating, the couple divvied up their books, photography equipment and cookware. Left intertwined: their Netflix, Hulu and Pandora accounts.

They didn’t discuss separating the subscriptions when Mr. McKellar moved out of their shared Washington, D.C., apartment. They just continued paying their respective bills—hers, Hulu, and his, Netflix and Pandora. Two-and-a-half years later, they still share those services.

Read more here (subscription required).

April 15, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Resolving Custody and Visitation Concerns

From Brian E. McKinley (

Divorces can be emotional and stressful, and when children are involved, child custody arrangements can make things even more challenging and may cause additional concerns. What if your ex-spouse doesn’t abide by the arrangement and doesn’t meet you with your children on time? What if they talk about moving out of state? Luckily, there are laws in place and legal professionals available to help enforce the terms of these types of agreements.

If your divorce has been finalized and you are wondering how the custody and visitation part of the agreement will work out between you and your ex-spouse, it is not unusual to feel uneasy about it. Below are the common custody and visitation concerns that divorced parents experience, and what you can do:

Failure to Comply with Requirements of an Agreement – You may wonder what happens if one or both parties fails to abide by the terms of the custody or visitation agreement. For example, a parent might intentionally extend their visit with the child to either spend more time with him or her or to intentionally deprive the other parent time with the child. If a parent fails to observe the terms of a custody agreement, you can contact your lawyer or a legal professional so they can help you enforce the terms of the agreement or to seek modification of the agreement. Keep in mind that there may be situations where the withholding of custody may be permissible, such as if an ex-spouse is keeping the child safe from danger or if they are late to an exchange due to traffic during the commute.

Read more here.

April 14, 2019 in Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds), Visitation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Joe Biden and the #MeToo Generation Gap

From The Rolling Stones:

Last week, Lucy Flores, a Democractic lawmaker from Nevada, penned an op-ed for the Cutclaiming that former vice president Joe Biden had touched her inappropriately while she was campaigning for lieutenant governor. Flores wrote that Biden approached her from behind and smelled her hair before kissing her on the back of the head.

Shortly thereafter (as we have come to expect with these cases), a woman named Amy Lappos chimed in, telling the Hartford Courant that Biden had rubbed noses with her at a 2009 fundraiser.

Since then, two other women have come forward with allegations of inappropriate touching from Biden, including a 22-year-old woman who claims Biden rubbed her thigh and gave her a lingering hug after she told him about her experience as a sexual assault survivor.

To be clear, the women leveling these allegations against Biden are not accusing him of illegal or even borderline abusive behavior.

As Tessa Stuart wrote for Rolling Stone about Flores and Lappos, “neither woman is accusing him of a crime — they’re engaging prospective voters in a broader conversation about what constitutes appropriate and acceptable behavior. (In response, Biden has issued a statement saying that while he believes he is not guilty of inappropriate behavior, he will “listen respectfully” to women’s claims.)

Read more here.


April 13, 2019 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Brazilian Twin Brothers Forced to Pay Child Support After Inconclusive Paternity Test

From Fox News:

Twin brothers in Brazil are being forced to each pay child support after a paternity test was unable to confirm who the father of a newborn baby is.

The identical twins refused to admit who the father of the baby girl was in an attempt to avoid making support payments. After additional DNA testing was done and returned inconclusive, a judge made the decision to hold them both accountable for supporting the child.

The brothers, whose identities remain anonymous, have been using their physical similarities to trick women into thinking they were the other person.

“They each used the other’s name, either to attract as many women as possible or to hide betrayal in their relationships,” the ruling judge wrote in a statement.

Read more here.

April 12, 2019 in Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement, International, Paternity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Violence Against Women Act is Turning 25

From The New York Times:

Since it was proposed in the early 1990s as a bill to protect women “on the streets and in homes,” the Violence Against Women Act has been argued over by lawmakers, the Supreme Court, civil rights groups and the National Rifle Association, among others.

The bill, which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994, was designed to protect victims of domestic crimes and reduce the stigma associated with domestic abuse. It must be renewed every few years by Congress, and on Thursday the House approved a bill that would reauthorize the act for a fourth time.

The act has established the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice, and myriad programs to train victim advocates, police officers, prosecutors and judges on gender-based violence. Since it was created, more than $7 billion in federal grants has been given to programs that prevent domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. It has also funded shelters, community programs and studies tracking violence against women.

Read more here.

April 11, 2019 in Current Affairs, Domestic Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Switzerland Ranked #1 for Women's Rights

From World Economic Forum:

Switzerland, which promotes equality at home and in the workplace, has been ranked the best country for women's rights, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in a report on Friday.

Denmark, Sweden, France and Portugal were the next best-performing countries, according to an index that ranked 120 nations on how they tackled discrimination against women through their laws and political reforms.

Meanwhile, Guinea, Jordan, Iran, Pakistan and Yemen came out at the bottom of the OECD's Social Institutions and Gender Index, released to mark International Women's Day.

Read more here.

April 10, 2019 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)