Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, July 15, 2019

Higdon: "Parens Patriae and the Disinherited Child"

Michael J. Higdon (Tennessee) has posted to SSRN his recent paper Parens Patriae and the Disinherited Child (2019). Here is the abstract:

Most countries have safeguards in place to protect children from disinheritance. The United States is not one of them. Since its founding, America has clung tightly to the ideal of testamentary freedom, refusing to erect any barriers to a testator’s ability to disinherit his or her children—regardless of the child’s age or financial needs. Over the years, however, disinheritance has become more common given the evolving American family, specifically the increased incidences of divorce, remarriage, and cohabitation. Critics of the American approach have offered up solutions largely based on the two models currently employed by other countries: 1) the forced heirship approach, in which all children are entitled to a set percentage of their parent’s estate; and 2) family maintenance statutes, which provide judges with the discretionary authority to override a testator’s wishes and instead award some portion of the estate to the testator’s surviving family members. This Article takes a different approach and looks at the issue of disinheritance through a new lens: the doctrine of parens patriae. Just as this doctrine limits the decision-making autonomy of living parents vis-à-vis their children, this Article argues that it should likewise limit the dead hand control of deceased parents. Focusing on minor children, adult children who remain dependent as a result of disability, and adult children who are survivors of parental abuse, it is the contention of this Article that testamentary freedom must sometimes yield to the state’s inherent parens patriae authority to protect children from harm. Specifically, this Article proposes that courts should refuse to enforce testamentary schemes that disinherit those children if that disinheritance would constitute abuse or neglect. Such an approach is not only mandated by the doctrine of parens patriae but, in contrast to the approaches other countries have adopted, is more deferential to testamentary freedom. The limitations it does impose represent a relatively modest curtailment of the rights testators currently possess and, at the same time, are consistent with existing exceptions to testamentary freedom, most notably those in place to protect spouses and creditors as well as those that prohibit the enforcement of testamentary provisions that violate public policy.

July 15, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Brito: "The Child Support Debt Bubble"

Tonya L. Brito (Wisconsin) has posted to SSRN her article The Child Support Debt Bubble, 9 UC Irvine L. Rev. 953 (2019). Here is the abstract:

This Article examines the widespread phenomenon of exorbitant child support debt owed by noncustodial fathers in no- and low-income and predominately Black families. Drawing from qualitative data—including a court-based ethnography and in-depth interviews with lawyers, litigants, and judges—this Article explores the inflated and arbitrary nature of the debt, detailing how states utilize family law rules, child support system practices, and court processes to construct burdensome child support arrears that many poor noncustodial fathers will never have the means to pay off. It concludes by arguing that inflated child support arrears should be questioned and challenged.

July 14, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 13, 2019

How Couples Meet

Blog

July 13, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 12, 2019

Potential Changes in Northern Ireland

From CNN:

The UK parliament has voted to legalize same-sex marriages and to extend access to abortion services in Northern Ireland, in two historic measures that could bring the region's current laws into line with the rest of the UK.

Lawmakers in London overwhelmingly voted by 383 votes to 73 in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, and 332 to 99 in favor of abortion reform.
Northern Ireland currently has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, with the procedure carrying maximum sentences of life imprisonment, even in cases of rape, incest and fatal fetal abnormality.
While the 1967 Abortion Act broadly legalized the procedure throughout the rest of the UK (England, Scotland and Wales), it has never been extended to Northern Ireland, where an 1861 law still holds.
 
Decisions on abortion law have historically been the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has a special devolved status from the rest of the UK government.
 
That power-sharing arrangement means nationalists and unionists in the region must work together, with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister leading the executive.
 
In 2017, the NI Assembly collapsed after its governing coalition, the nationalist Sinn Féin party and unionist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), collapsed.
 
If that regional government fails to regroup before October 21, Tuesday's votes are expected to be implemented into law in Northern Ireland.
 
However, if the NI Assembly does reach a power-sharing agreement before that date, it would be able to approve or repeal the measures.
 

Read more here.

 
 

July 12, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Ireland: Young People Pushed Out of Family Law System

From The Irish Times

Irish children are being ‘pushed out of a family law system that is crying out for reform’ and where young people’s voices are not heard, according to the head of the Children’s Rights Alliance (CRA).

The majority of calls to the CRA’s helpline, which launched last year, came from children and their parents who feel the opinions of young people are not being taken into account in family law proceedings, chief executive Tanya Ward said.

The first annual report into the helpline and legal advice clinics has called for clearer information to be provided to children who do not understand judgements made in family law cases.

Read more here.

July 11, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Oregon Passes Most Inclusive Paid Family Leave Law in U.S.

From KOIN 6

A new law that recently passed will give people more freedom with paid family medical leave — a move public health advocates are calling historic.

The social insurance program is a big deal for families because Oregon will soon have the most inclusive law in the country. It will include 100% wage replacement for low-wage workers — and it has an inclusive definition of family, so no matter who you need to care for, you’ll be able to take the time off.

Currently, under Oregon law, people can’t take time off for siblings. With the new law, people will be able to take time off for extended family, non-blood related family and LGBTQ+ chosen family.

“That is truly revolutionary,” Lili Hoag, the political director at Family Forward Oregon and campaign lead for Time to Care coalition, told KOIN 6 News.

Read more here

July 10, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Paid Family/Medical Leave Signed to Law in Connecticut

From The Houston Chronicle

Connecticut has joined the small and slow-growing group of states that give employees paid leave to care for sick relatives or deal with their own medical conditions.

Seven states and Washington, D.C., now have paid family and medical leave laws that provide for employee and/or employer-funded insurance pools to partially replace workers' wages. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed legislation on June 25 that calls for a paid leave system to be in place as of January 2022.

Paid family and medical leave laws are separate from laws in 10 states and many large cities that require employers to allow workers to accrue paid sick time. Besides Connecticut and the nation's capital, family and medical leave laws are on the books in California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, the state of Washington and Massachusetts.

Read more here

July 9, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 8, 2019

Fox: "Birth Rights and Wrongs"

Dov Fox (San Diego) just published his book Birth Rights and Wrongs, which presses for new ways to vindicate reproductive freedom when people are left with: (1) no baby, after they'd enlisted help to have one; (2) any baby, despite undertaking reliable efforts to avoid parenthood; or (3) a particular baby who's born with different traits than the ones they chose. The book is now available on Amazon and Oxford University Press.

July 8, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Family Law "Chaos" Puts Pressure on Families

From Visalia Times Delta 

"Chaos" is a common word used to describe the current state of family law in Tulare County's judicial system.
The supervising judge resigned her post earlier this year. She was said to have "revolutionized" the way family drama was resolved.
The team of four is now down to two judges in Visalia.
Caseloads have spiked.


Any matter that's expected to go more than the length of a Disney animated movie is automatically booted to a civil judge — who likely has never heard from either side before. Now, family law attorneys are in revolt, penning a letter that points the finger at one judge — Presiding Judge Brett Alldredge.
Alldredge took over his leading role in January after serving as Judge Bret Hillman's assistant presiding judge.
Attorneys say the changes are dangerous to families who are looking for help.

Read more here 

July 8, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Family Law "Chaos" Puts Pressure on Families

From Visalia Times Delta 

"Chaos" is a common word used to describe the current state of family law in Tulare County's judicial system.
The supervising judge resigned her post earlier this year. She was said to have "revolutionized" the way family drama was resolved.
The team of four is now down to two judges in Visalia.
Caseloads have spiked.


Any matter that's expected to go more than the length of a Disney animated movie is automatically booted to a civil judge — who likely has never heard from either side before. Now, family law attorneys are in revolt, penning a letter that points the finger at one judge — Presiding Judge Brett Alldredge.
Alldredge took over his leading role in January after serving as Judge Bret Hillman's assistant presiding judge.
Attorneys say the changes are dangerous to families who are looking for help.

Read more here 

July 8, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

States Unsure How To Handle Online Sales Of Abortion Pills

From Reuters:

American women faced with new restrictions on abortions passed by a dozen U.S. states this year are turning to abortion pills from foreign online suppliers, and the states say there is little they can do to stop it.

In the year before many of these new restrictions passed Republican-controlled state legislatures, over 20,000 U.S. women sought the pills online from providers willing to defy U.S. federal rules over sale of the drugs that induce miscarriage.

One of them was Kayla, a 24-year-old Mississippi mother of two who terminated a pregnancy in January. She and her husband decided they could neither afford to raise another child nor get an abortion at the nearest clinic in Memphis, Tennessee.

Read more here

July 7, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Georgia Abortion Provides Bring Suit Against State's "Fetal Heartbeat" Law

From NPR:

Abortion providers have filed a lawsuit seeking to block Georgia's controversial new law that bans abortions when heartbeat activity is detectable, typically about six weeks into a pregnancy — before many women know they're pregnant.

"This is a constitutional challenge" to the law, the plaintiffs say in the lawsuit, which was filed in a U.S. district court in northern Georgia Friday. The suit was backed by the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood Southeast.

"This law is an affront to the dignity and health of Georgians," reads the suit, which calls the abortion restriction an attack that is particularly aimed at low-income residents, people of color and those who live in rural areas. Those groups, it states, "are least able to access medical care and least able to overcome the cruelties of this law."

Read more here

July 6, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 5, 2019

President's New Policy Might Deprive Unaccompanied Migrant Children Of Protected Status

From Los Angeles Times:

Under a policy set to take effect Sunday, the U.S. government could strip young immigrants of their status as unaccompanied minors, causing them to lose special protections when they apply for asylum and making them more likely to be deported.

The plan is laid out in an internal memorandum sent May 31 by John Lafferty, chief of the asylum division at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and detailed in subsequent guidance, both obtained by The Times. The shift in policy involves when federal officials determine whether a young migrant is an unaccompanied minor.

Read more here

July 5, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Activists Allege Widespread Mistreatment Of Migrant Children

From USA Today:

Alba Macario of Guatemala said her 2-year-old daughter, Suriana, nearly died while they were detained in a processing facility in Calexico, California, for more than a week in May.

“The immigration officials treat people as if they are animals,” Macario, 25, said Tuesday as she sat on the floor of a shelter in Mexicali, weeks after she was released by U.S. authorities and sent back to Mexico. “I saw how my daughter almost died in my arms, and they couldn’t do anything.” 

Migrant families, activists and attorneys said this week that the abuse of child migrants is widespread in immigration detention. The outcry comes after attorneys reported children and infants were found sick and left in soiled clothing at a Border Patrol station southeast of El Paso in Clint, Texas.

Read more here

July 4, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Mediating Custody In Divorce Cases

From Mediate.com: 

Child custody is often the most contentious aspect of divorce proceedings. But this doesn’t have to be the case for you and your soon-to-be-ex. Instead, you can strive to achieve a mutually satisfactory resolution when it comes to child custody—even if your custody talks start out rocky. This can help avoid expensive additional litigation for both parties as part of the divorce process.

Here’s a look at how to go about mediating custody in a highly contested divorce case.

Read more here

July 3, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

EU Passes New Rules For Child Custody Disputes

From Court News Service:

Seeking to combat a growing problem of parental child abduction, European lawmakers adopted new rules Tuesday to better protect children and bring quicker resolutions to child custody fights.

Tuesday’s actions are a retooling of the Brussels IIa regulation, a cornerstone of EU judicial cooperation in cross-border matters involving marriage, divorce, separation, annulment and child custody. The regulation, passed in 2005, affects all EU member states except Denmark.

But a rise in international families – currently estimated at 16 million – and subsequent cross-border family disputes – 140,000 divorces and 1,800 children abducted by a parent annually – led the European Commission to propose amending the Brussels IIa regulation to make it more efficient.

Read more here.

July 2, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 1, 2019

Ontario Bar Association Pushes Change For Legal Technology and Family Law

From Law Times:

Potential discounts on legal technology and a summit on gender equality are among the fall initiatives planned by new Ontario Bar Association leadership.

The organization’s ladder-style leadership structure will officially rotate in September, when current president, Lynne Vicars, will become immediate past president, and Colin Stevenson will take over as president. 

“It’s our intention to add a very practical element to what the OBA does for lawyers,” says Stevenson, a partner at Stevenson Whelton LLP who works out of offices in Vaughan, Ont. and Toronto. “We want to ensure for the small firms and the large firms we can take the leverage of our 15,000 to 16,0000 members and provide better pricing, availability and access to the technology.” 

Read more here

July 1, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)