Family Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, January 13, 2020

Same-Sex Marriage in China

From NBC News:

China has taken a step forward to allow same-sex marriage, a move that could undo years of discrimination, delight rights activists and give new rights to the LGBTQ community "after years of hiding and struggling."

A body of the National People's Congress, the country's highest law-making institution, has publicly acknowledged petitions to legalize same-sex marriage, a rare development that has triggered a nationwide discussion of a topic that was once taboo.

Expectations are raised that the nation, which is led by the Communist Party, might eventually join the growing number of countries that have passed legislation protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.

Read more here.

January 13, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Modern Marriage

From the Atlantic:

Stephanie Coontz, a historian and the author of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, told me in an email that for thousands of years, marriage was a way for families to solidify alliances, make economic connections, and maintain reputations. Marrying for love became the norm among the middle classes in the 20th century, but the aristocracy—and especially the monarchy—have held on a little more firmly to the old model of marriage. For example, as viewers of the latest season of The Crown know, Camilla Parker Bowles, the first love and now wife of Prince Charles, was initially rejected by the royal family in the ’70s as a fiancée for Charles because of her “unsuitable” status as a commoner. Charles later married Diana Spencer, a 20-year-old who had worked as a nanny and preschool teacher but was technically British nobility.

Both Prince William and Prince Harry made more contemporary choices of partners than their father did; both married women without noble titles and married for love. “But Harry and Meghan have taken it a step further,” Coontz wrote, in that they seem to have embraced the most modern form of the love marriage: the purposefully egalitarian marriage. In these marriages, both partners prioritize the other’s happiness (as opposed to the old-fashioned notion of the subservient wife, who puts her husband’s needs and wants above her own) and take on responsibilities that play to their strengths rather than to preconceived gender-specific roles.

“It’s not just that [Meghan] expects him to take account of her feelings and work to make her happy ... To make room for her to pursue a life that is not based upon her playing the ornamental wifely role, Harry seems willing (perhaps even relieved) to back out of his traditional class role,” Coontz wrote. “They certainly have moved a long way toward acceptance of the modern ideal of a marriage where each partner has to take account of the other’s desires, interests, and aspirations outside the family as well as inside it.”

Eli Finkel, a psychology professor at Northwestern University and the author of The All-or-Nothing Marriage, meanwhile, has a theory that over generations, couples have come to expect more and more from the institution of marriage. Early on, as Coontz noted, people married for economic security; later, people began to marry for love and companionship, but many also expected marriage to deliver economic security. Most recently, married people have added personal growth to the mix, expecting that, as Finkel told my colleague Olga Khazan in 2017, “our spouse will help us grow, help us become a better version of ourselves, a more authentic version of ourselves.”

In some senses, Finkel said, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are a perfect example of an ideal modern marriage, in that one partner has sacrificed a great deal to prioritize the other’s ability to live the way she wants. “We used to have these norms of responsibility to broader social units, these ideas that you were supposed to do what your community thought was appropriate. And if that meant that you were gay and had to hide your sexuality, well, then, that was the right thing to do,” Finkel told me in an interview. “Increasingly, the idea that we should have to live an inauthentic life is abhorrent. I think more and more of us view it as something close to immoral—like we shouldn’t force people to live a life where they have to suppress who they really are.”

Read more here.

January 12, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Spousal Privileges

From Naomi Cahn (GW), writing for Forbes:

In 2016, Carole and Carlos Ghosn celebrated their marriage – and her 50th birthday – at the palace of Versailles. 

 Apparently, the film, Marie Antoinette, was the inspiration for the party, and the event included actors in period costumes. 

 Ironically, just like Marie Antoinette, Carole Ghosn’s fate is closely tied to that of her husband. Japan has issued  an arrest warrant for Carole Ghosn, based on claims that she provided false testimony in her husband's case.

Read more here.

January 11, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 10, 2020

Ikea Reaches $46 Million Settlement Over Death Of Toddler Killed By Dresser Tip-Over

From NPR 

Ikea has agreed to pay $46 million to a California family whose 2-year-old son, Jozef Dudek, was killed when an unsecured Ikea dresser fell on top of him. The family's lawyers say the dresser model was "inherently unstable."

At least eight children are believed to have been killed by dressers that the Swedish furniture giant has recalled, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Daniel Mann, a lawyer for the Dudek family, said that millions of the recalled dressers may still be in use.

The recalled dressers pose a risk of tipping over if they are not secured to the wall. Ikea has previously said that the products were not designed to be free-standing.

Joleen and Craig Dudek, Jozef's parents, say that they are "telling our story because we do not want this to happen to another family."

Read more here 

January 10, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Some federal workers are not covered by the new family leave law

From Washington Post

The enactment in late December of a law allowing paid parental leave for federal workers was hailed as an important new benefit for 2.1 million executive branch employees.

But upon further review, as a football referee might say, the number is lower. How much lower, and whether it will remain lower, is still to be determined.

The new law turns into paid time off the up to 12 weeks of annual unpaid parental leave currently available to federal employees, among many other American workers, under the Family and Medical Leave Act. It will apply to births, adoptions and foster placements on or after Oct. 1.

Read more here

January 10, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Irish Study on Elder Abuse

From the Irish Times:

Sons are five times more likely to abuse an elderly parent compared to daughters, according to unpublished research into elder abuse cases in the Family Court.

Mothers are also far more likely to become victims of elder abuse compared to fathers. Verbal abuse and threats are the most common forms of abuse seen in the courts including many instances of threats with knives, according to DCU Assistant Professor of Law Dr Adam McAuley, who carried out the study.

Over the course of a year Dr McAuley visited every District Court family law sitting in the country bar one, including spending eight months in Dolphin House, the country’s busiest domestic violence court.

He recorded 61 cases of parents requesting the court’s protection from their adult children. Parents requested safety orders, effectively warnings to abusers to obey the law, and barring orders which prevent abusers entering a property or approaching the victim.

Read more here.

January 10, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Good faith effort: Marion County creates program for parents who lose licenses over child support

From The Indiana Lawyer

If a parent falls behind on child support payments, it only makes sense for a court to impose consequences. But sometimes, family law attorneys say, those consequences can be counterproductive.

Specifically, the revocation of a parent’s driver’s license might not necessarily lead to instant repayment, attorneys say. Instead, if the parent loses their ability to get to work, payments could fall further behind.

Child support delinquency consequences are meant to make parents understand the severity of their nonpayment, family law practitioners say, but it’s never in a child’s best interests for a parent to lose the ability to pay. To that end, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office launched a temporary program last month designed to help delinquent parents get their licenses back while also ensuring they meet their child support obligations.

Read more here


January 9, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Good faith effort: Marion County creates program for parents who lose licenses over child support

From The Indiana Lawyer

If a parent falls behind on child support payments, it only makes sense for a court to impose consequences. But sometimes, family law attorneys say, those consequences can be counterproductive.

Specifically, the revocation of a parent’s driver’s license might not necessarily lead to instant repayment, attorneys say. Instead, if the parent loses their ability to get to work, payments could fall further behind.

Child support delinquency consequences are meant to make parents understand the severity of their nonpayment, family law practitioners say, but it’s never in a child’s best interests for a parent to lose the ability to pay. To that end, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office launched a temporary program last month designed to help delinquent parents get their licenses back while also ensuring they meet their child support obligations.

Read more here


January 9, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Play Written by UK Family Judge

From the Guardian:

Listening to the words that will remove a baby from its mother, for ever, feels akin to what it must once have been like to hear a judge pronounce the death sentence. It is hard to think of a more serious act – even imprisonment – that the state can now impose than extinguishing the relationship between a parent and their child.

The fact that this scene is from a play, written by family judge Stephen Wildblood QC – who takes the role of the judge – does not diminish the gravity of what we have just watched: a courtroom reality that almost nobody in this country will ever witness, despite thousands of adoptions being ordered every year in courts up and down the land. That is because family law cases are held in private – there is no independent scrutiny of what they do, which means that immense state powers are exercised effectively in secret.

In an interactive post-performance discussion with the audience at the University of Gloucestershire, Wildblood acknowledges that family courts are brutal places. “It’s a very harsh environment,” he says.

Among a generally reserved judiciary, family judges are particularly tight-lipped when it comes to engaging with the public. So why is Wildblood putting on plays about what he does in court? “People don’t see how the family courts work … my idea is to put it on stage, so this is show, don’t tell,” he explains.

Read more here.

January 9, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Lawmakers May End Waiting Period After a Divorce


If you get divorced in Wisconsin, you have to wait six months to get married again.
But some lawmakers want to end the waiting period.
The Assembly Committee on Family Law has approved the proposal and the bill could be voted on by the entire Wisconsin State Assembly soon.
One co-sponsor says he supports it because it would allow Wisconsin residents to be happier faster.

Read more here

January 8, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Future of Cincinnati's Only Abortion Clinic in Question

From WLWT5

 The future of Cincinnati's only abortion clinic is in question after the state health director said the facility doesn't have enough backup doctors lined up.

Because the clinic doesn't have an agreement with a nearby, private hospital to transfer patients in case of an emergency -- an agreement required by state law --Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region has operated the clinic under an exception known as a variance. Ohio Health Director Amy Acton recently rescinded that variance.

Read more here

January 8, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brexit & Family Law

Brexit raises family law questions, among many others.  Read some answers here.

January 8, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Famous Divorce Lawyer Advises Against Divorce Lawyers

From The Mercury News:

As one of the celebrity world’s best-known family law attorneys, Laura Wasser is a prominent fixture in America’s “divorce industrial complex” which is excoriated in the new film “Marriage Story.”

The L.A.-based Wasser represented Angelina Jolie during parts of her contentious divorce from Brad Pitt, and her other high-profile clients have included Johnny Depp, Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian and Maria Shriver.

Wasser also is said to be the inspiration for Laura Dern’s savvy, designer-clad attorney in “A Marriage Story,” who nudges Scarlett Johansson into an increasingly contentious and costly divorce from Adam Driver.

But as much as Wasser, 51, has made her fame and fortune through family law, she is now one of the first to tell people to avoid hiring attorneys to handle their divorce — unless it’s really necessary.

Read more here.

January 7, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, January 6, 2020

Yesterday Biggest Day for Dating Apps

From CNN:

Cuffing season may be winding down, but there's still Dating Sunday: the first Sunday of the year and historically a big day for dating apps.
Matchmaking websites and apps typically see their numbers go way up on Dating Sunday, and the trend is expected to continue in 2020.
Bumble, for example, is expecting a 30% increase in new users this Sunday alone, along with a 15% increase in user activity compared to an average day. Last year, Dating Sunday was the highest registration day in the app's history, a representative said.
And they're not the only app to report higher numbers. Match is expecting an 80% increase in new users on the website on Sunday -- in 2019, the site saw a 69% jump on Dating Sunday. CoffeeMeetsBagel, another dating app, saw similar numbers in 2018, with a 75% spike in new-user sign ups.
"It's a mix of New Year's resolutions, post-holiday breakups and Valentine's Day around the corner," a Bumble representative told CNN.
Read more here.

January 6, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Smith: “Keeping It in the Family: Minor Guardianship As Private Child Protection”

Deirdre M. Smith (Maine) has recenlty posted to SSRN her paper Keeping It in the Family: Minor Guardianship As Private Child Protection, 18 Conn. Pub. Int. L. Rev. 269 (2019).  Here is the abstract:

Due to the opioid use epidemic and an overwhelmed public child protection system, minor guardianship is an increasingly important tool for relative caregivers seeking to obtain legal authority regarding the children who come into their care because of a parent’s crisis. Yet minor guardianship originated in colonial law for an entirely different purpose: to protect legal orphans who had inherited property. Today’s guardianship laws are still based on this “orphan model” which does not fit today’s reality. This Article is the first to analyze how these outdated guardianship laws are being used as a form of “private child protection” and to propose changes aimed to serve the needs and interests of families in crisis.

Despite its central role in helping families address the care of children today, the use of minor guardianship for child protection has received remarkably little scholarly examination. This Article aims to fill that gap in three ways. First, it traces the transformation of minor guardianship from a probate tool used to protect orphans’ property interests to its contemporary use as a way to keep children out of foster care and instead address their care within the family. Second, the Article analyzes the implications for children, parents, and relative caregivers of guardianship’s use for private child protection. While families avoid the loss of control and other common problems that accompany involvement in the public child welfare system, family members cannot take advantage of the services and supports that the system can provide. Third, I outline the specific measures that states can and should enact to unlink minor guardianship laws from the “orphan model” and rework them to serve the interests of families in crisis and to reflect the broader policy goals of child protection, including preserving kinship ties.

January 5, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Ryznar Encyclopedic Entries

Margaret Ryznar (IU McKinney) has recently posted to SSRN encyclopedic entries on the following topics:

Marriage Squeeze (here)

Living Apart Together (here)

Monogamy (here)



January 4, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 3, 2020

Siegel: "The Nineteenth Amendment and the Democratization of the Family"

Reva Siegel (Yale) has recently posted to SSRN her article The Nineteenth Amendment and the Democratization of the Family, Yale L.J. (forthcoming).  Here is the abstract:

This Essay recovers debates over the family connecting the Reconstruction Amendments and the Nineteenth Amendment, and considers how this lost history can guide the Constitution’s interpretation, in courts and in politics.

A woman’s claim to vote contested a man’s prerogative to represent his wife and daughters, and so was a claim for democratization of the family. Suffragists raised other, more far-reaching challenges to the family. Suffragists advocated reforming the law to recognize women’s right to voluntary motherhood and to be remunerated equally with men for work outside and inside the household. They sought to create a world in which adult members of the household could be recognized and participate in democratic life as equals. And they debated how to realize these goals when women faced different and intersectional forms of discrimination.

Courts can interpret the Amendments synthetically and so, for example, integrate the history of suffrage struggle into the equal-protection framework of United States v. Virginia. I show how an historical and intersectional analysis could change the way that courts approach cases concerning of the regulation of pregnancy, contraception, sexual violence, and federalism. I close, looking beyond the courts, to persisting claims for democratization of the family in politics. How would we understand these claims if we recognized they began in the decades before the Civil War, and we recognized the disenfranchised Americans who voiced them among our Constitution’s esteemed Framers?


January 3, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Bartholet: "Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection"

Elizabeth Bartholet (Harvard) has posted to SSRN her recent article Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection, 62 Arizona L. Rev.__ (forthcoming 2020).  Here is the abstract:

This article describes the rapidly growing homeschooling phenomenon, and the threat it poses to children and society. Homeschooling activists have in recent decades largely succeeded in their deregulation campaign, overwhelming legislators with aggressive advocacy. As a result, parents can now keep their children at home in the name of homeschooling free from any real scrutiny as to whether or how they are educating their children. Many homeschool precisely because they want to isolate their children from ideas and values central to our democracy. Many promote racial segregation and female subservience. Many question science. Many are determined to keep their children from exposure to views that might enable autonomous choice about their future lives. Abusive parents can keep their children at home free from the risk that teachers will report them to child protection services. Some homeschool precisely for this reason. This article calls for a radical transformation in the homeschooling regime, and a related rethinking of child rights and reframing of constitutional doctrine. It recommends a presumptive ban on homeschooling, with the burden on parents to demonstrate justification for permission to homeschool.

January 2, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Heterosexual Couples Form Civil Unions in England

From ABC:

LONDON -- England and Wales have marked a new era in which heterosexual couples can choose to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage.

The change, mandated by Britain's Supreme Court last year, took effect Tuesday. The groundbreaking case had been brought by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who were among the first to form a civil partnership under the new rules.

They were joined by their two children for the partnership formed at the Kensington and Chelsea Register Office in central London.

Steinfeld, 38, called it “a unique, special and personal moment for us” that had been “rooted in our desire to formalize our relationship in a more modern way, focus on equality and mutual respect."

The new rules means that mixed-sex couples can opt for a civil partnership that will give them similar rights as married couples, including marriage allowance tax relief, inheritance tax exemption, and joint parental responsibility for children.

It is expected to be an attractive option for couples who believe marriage gives men the upper hand and also by couples who don't want any religious element in their union.

Read more here.

January 1, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 1, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)