Family Law Prof Blog

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

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Landmark UK Divorce Case

From the Guardian:

A woman who “sacrificed” her career as a solicitor so she could look after her children has won compensation on top of an equal share of the family’s wealth after her divorce.

The ruling could have implications for other divorce cases in which one partner has stepped back from their career for the good of the family, a lawyer said.

The Cambridge graduate was embroiled in a fight over cash with her millionaire husband, who is also a solicitor, after the breakdown of their marriage.

A judge has decided the pair, who were married for about a decade and have two children, should split assets of nearly £10 million equally but that the woman should get another £400,000 in compensation for curtailing her legal career.

Mr Justice Moor said there had been “relationship-generated disadvantage” as the husband was still able to enjoy a “stellar” career.

Read more here.

February 29, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 28, 2020

States with Low Divorce Rates

From the Daily Northwestern:

Illinois may boast some of the lowest divorce rates in the nation, but think twice before you dub the state a lover’s paradise.

In Illinois, 6.6 percent of marriages end in divorce, according to 2018 United States Census Bureau data. Other states with notably low divorce rates include Hawaii, New York and Vermont. Arkansas tops the list as the divorce capital of the nation, with the state home to 17.14 divorced people per 1,000 married individuals.

Nationwide, it seems love isn’t everlasting: couples marrying for the first time in the United States have an approximately 50 percent chance of divorcing. Overall rates paint a slightly more promising picture, with the percent of divorced American couples hovering around 16 percent.

Joshua Stern, a founder and managing partner of the Illinois-based divorce and family law firm Stern Perkoski, said a couple’s decision to stay together often comes down to cost. In Illinois, divorce can come with a hefty price tag — according to the Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. website, Illinois ranks among the top ten states with the priciest divorce fees, which the Chicago-based family law firm estimates amount to around $13,800.


The age at which couples marry and have children may also explain their marriages’ longevity. In Illinois, men get married at an average age of 30, and most women tie the knot at around 29. Twenty years ago, the average man found himself hitched at 26.8, and the average woman at 25.1.

Read more here.

February 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Dating Market

From the Atlantic:

The idea of the dating market is appealing because a market is something a person can understand and try to manipulate. But fiddling with the inputs—by sending more messages, going on more dates, toggling and re-toggling search parameters, or even moving to a city with a better ratio—isn’t necessarily going to help anybody succeed on that market in a way that’s meaningful to them.

Last year, researchers at Ohio State University examined the link between loneliness and compulsive use of dating apps—interviewing college students who spent above-average time swiping—and found a terrible feedback loop: The lonelier you are, the more doggedly you will seek out a partner, and the more negative outcomes you’re likely to be faced with, and the more alienated from other people you will feel. This happens to men and women in the same way.

“We found no statistically significant differences for gender at all,” the lead author, Katy Coduto, said in an email. “Like, not even marginally significant.”

There may always have been a dating market, but today people’s belief that they can see it and describe it and control their place in it is much stronger. And the way we speak becomes the way we think, as well as a glaze to disguise the way we feel. Someone who refers to looking for a partner as a numbers game will sound coolly aware and pragmatic, and guide themselves to a more odds-based approach to dating. But they may also suppress any honest expression of the unbearably human loneliness or desire that makes them keep doing the math.

Read more here.

February 27, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Missouri Seeking Family Violence Clinic Director

Director of Family Violence Clinic
University of Missouri School of Law

The University of Missouri School of Law is seeking dynamic, qualified applicants for the
position of Director of the Family Violence Program who will also teach a combination of
courses from the family law curriculum.

The University of Missouri-Columbia is the flagship campus of the University of Missouri
System and is one of only 34 public universities in the country belonging to the Association of
American Universities. As both a research and a land grant university, it has extraordinary
opportunities for interdisciplinary research and teaching. In addition, Columbia is regularly
ranked as one of the most livable cities in the country. Salary and benefits are competitive.
Additional information about the School of Law is available at

Job Description:
The clinical faculty member will have the title of Associate Clinical Professor of Law or Clinical
Professor of Law. The position is a non-tenured, clinical track position. The faculty member will
teach law students the theory and practice of family law, supervise research and scholarship, and
engage with students in applied leadership in advancing justice. This instruction is expected to
occur in the classroom, in the community, in courtrooms, and in Missouri's Capitol. The faculty
member will prepare well-rounded lawyers who are sensitive to ethical issues, prepared to serve
clients, and ready to assume leadership in promoting justice.

Position Details:
Specific areas ofresponsibility include teaching the Advocacy, Family Violence and Public
Policy Seminar, the Family Violence Clinic, and other courses including but not limited to
Family Law and Children and the Law.
Outreach & Supervision:
• Supervise Rule 13 certified law students representing indigent Missourians
o Diverse courtroom appearances in multiple counties
• Probate, civil, and juvenile divisions
• Missouri Appellate Courts
• Adoptions, civil protective orders, guardianships
o Supervise students in impact cases (as needed) before Missouri's appellate
o Make requests of state and national and international administrative offices
• Missouri administrative offices
• United States Departments i.e. Homeland Security
• United States and Foreign Embassies
• Supervise students conducting library and empirical research papers designed to
advance justice for the disadvantaged
• Develop amicus curiae briefs to the United States Supreme Courts and other State
Supreme Courts in behalf of national organizations
• Supervise students in publishing research papers
• Supervise students in developing legislative bills advancing justice for children and
abuse victims; testifying in support of such bills before legislative bodies in Missouri and
other states
•Supervise students in seeking gubernatorial clemency (commutations and pardons) in
• Develop collaborative relationships with community organizations serving
disadvantaged Missourians
Professional Growth:
• Service to the profession
o Activities may include, but do not require, research and publication
o Activities may also include those aimed to improve teaching, provide CLE or
other pro bono services
• Service to the university
• Direct operations of the Family Violence Clinic
• Draft and submit grant applications funding law student representation of indigent rural
clients i.e. cell phones, travel, meals etc.
• Draft and submit grant applications funding various positions in the Family Violence
Clinic including the Director and Teaching Fellows
• Administer grant funded operations
• Supervise the Family Violence Clinic administrative assistant
Minimum qualifications:
• A Juris Doctor degree from an ABA accredited law school
• Experience as a practicing attorney, judicial clerk, and/or staff attorney
• Admission to practice Jaw in Missouri or ability to obtain eligibility
Preferred Requirements:
• Grantsmanship in all phases including triaging requests for funding, drafting
and administrating funded programs
• Proven collaboration with non-profit organizations
• Experience working with indigent populations
• Conversant in intra-familial and interpersonal violence intervention
• Demonstrated aptitude for teaching
• Strong organizational and management skills
• Sound judgment and exceptional ethical standards

Application Procedure:
Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply,
please submit a cover letter indicating teaching and scholarly interests, a CV and three names of
references to which is the university's employment

Questions about the application process may be directed to Associate Dean S. David Mitchell at Questions about the position may be directed to Family Violence
Clinic Emerita Director Mary Beck at

Diversity Commitment:
The University of Missouri is an equal opportunity /ADA institution and encourages applications
from women, candidates of color and other under-represented communities in the legal academy.
To request ADA accommodations, please call the Disability Inclusion and ADA Compliance
Manager at 573-884-7278.

Equal Employment Opportunity:
Equal Opportunity is and shall be provided for all employees and applicants for employment on
the basis of their demonstrated ability and competence without unlawful discrimination on the
basis of their race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation,
gender identity, gender expression, age, disability, protected veteran status, or any other status
protected by applicable state or federal law. This policy shall not be interpreted in such a manner
as to violate the legal rights of religious organizations or the recruiting rights of military
organizations associated with the Armed Forces or the Department of Homeland Security of the
United States of America. For more information, call the Vice Chancellor of Human Resource
Services/Affirmative Action officer at 573-882-4256.

February 26, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Florida Legislature passes abortion parental consent bill

From nbcnews

Girls under the age of 18 will have to get a parent's permission before having an abortion under a bill passed by the Florida Legislature on Thursday that Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign.

The House voted 75-43 largely along party lines for the legislation that expands a current law that requires a girl's parents are notified before she can have an abortion. DeSantis asked lawmakers to send him the bill during his State of the State speech that kicked off the legislative session last month.


“What we are talking about is a child, and here were are talking about a child who is carrying a child,” said Republican Rep. Erin Grall, who sponsored the bill. “By including parents in this decision we empower the family. It is the critical backbone of our civilized society.”

Read more here

February 25, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. Supreme Court Decides Hague Abduction Case


The Supreme Court [has today resolved] an international child custody dispute in favor of the girl's Italian father over her American mother.

The mother, Michelle Monasky, fled with her daughter from Italy to Ohio when the girl was two months old. Monasky said her husband had become abusive, so she left with her daughter and moved in with her parents in the United States. The Supreme Court agreed unanimously Tuesday that lower courts were correct in ordering that the now 5-year-old girl be returned to Italy.

The child's father, Domenico Taglieri, had petitioned courts in the United States for the girl's return and won. The child, who is referred to as A.M.T. in court documents, was actually returned to Italy when she was nearly 2 years old and put in her father's care. An appeal of the case continued in the United States, however, and custody proceedings are still ongoing in Italy.

Read more here, and today's U.S. Supreme Court decision here.

February 25, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 24, 2020

LGBTQ Tennesseans are 'saddened,' 'disappointed' by new adoption law

From NBC News 

The controversial law allows private adoption and foster care agencies to continue receiving taxpayer funds even if they exclude LGBTQ prospective parents and others who do not meet the agency's religious criteria. Tennessee is now one of 11 states to permit state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse services to queer people and same-sex couples, according to the LGBTQ think tank Movement Advancement Project.

Stanton said she felt "saddened" and "disappointed" by the passage of the Tennessee law.

"Adoption comes with so many trials and so many traumas, and of course there's also so much joy," she said. "Any parent who goes through the adoption process goes through so much to get to that end adoption day that they are waiting for, and to see that that might be met with discouragement for those who identify as LGBT is very sad."

Read more here

February 24, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

History of Divorce in Reno

From Time, the history of Reno, Nevada as a place of divorce--available here.

February 24, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Women's Promotion Increases Chance of Divorce

From Business Insider:

According to recent research co-authored by Johanna Rickne, a professor at Stockholm University, women who received big promotions were more likely to get divorced. Dr. Rickne's research examined men and women employed by private businesses with 100 employees or more and found that married women were twice as likely to divorce three years after a CEO-level promotion when compared to male colleagues. 

Additionally, researchers examined three decades of worker records in the public sector and found women elected to public office were almost twice as likely to divorce following a successful election. Female physicians, members of law enforcement, and clergy who earned major promotions also followed the trend.

Researchers believe post-promotion tension and conflict could be to blame. When couples experience a radical shift in roles, it could cause problems. From a decrease in time spent together to a change in division of household tasks, promotions can introduce stress, especially where gender norms are involved. 

Read more here.

February 23, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Family courts not safe for domestic violence victims, lawyers say

From The Guardian

The family courts are not a safe place for victims of domestic violence because some judges there hold “outdated views” on sexual violence and issues of consent, according to a letter signed by 130 lawyers and professionals.

The public intervention comes in response to a widely criticised judgment last year by Judge Robin Tolson QC in the family court, in which he ruled that since a woman had not taken physical steps to stop her partner from assaulting her it did not constitute rape.

Last month, Tolson’s decision was overturned by the high court. Ms Justice Russell said the judge’s approach towards the issue of consent was “manifestly at odds” with current jurisprudence.

Read more here


February 22, 2020 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Big Experiment in Flex-Working

From Forbes:

In fact, the coronavirus is already proving to be the biggest experiment in working from home in history: firstly, of course, because of the scale of a threat that is rapidly expanding and spreading relatively easily. But secondly, and we should not forget this, because the maturity and availability of the technologies needed to work remotely are already within the reach of most of us. In many parts of China and in other countries, workers in a wide variety of sectors, practically all those whose daily work does not involve a relationship with any specialized asset or any specific type of machinery, have been isolated in their homes, subjected to routines of periodic temperature taking and the use of technology to monitor their activity. This circumstance, logically, is not only testing the resistance and habits of these people, but also that of their employers in keeping going.

We might usefully ask then, to what extent could our employer maintain its activity in the event of measures such as those being implemented in some areas of China? A good part of the future of the work could be related to being adapted to being done from home, even without circumstances that force this to happen. Many of the day-to-day activities of workers could be transferred to a remote environment where they would be more comfortable, reducing the inconveniences associated with daily travel and enabling greater comfort and even, according to many, improving productivity. But these supposed benefits do not come overnight, and the technologies and training required need to be tested to put them into practice smoothly. Why not consider a time like this, with more people working from home than in any other circumstance in history, to test that context?

Read more here.

February 22, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 21, 2020

Future CPS Cases To Be Randomly Assigned to Family Law Courts


Behind closed doors, Tarrant County district judges decided Thursday to remove future Child Protective Cases from Judge Alex Kim’s courtroom.

“You have to respect the Constitution one way or another,” Judge Kim said. “They thought what was best. That’s the way the process is. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

The order states beginning March 1, new CPS cases will be randomly assigned within the six courts in the Tarrant County Family Law Center. Currently, they’re assigned to the 323rd Family District Court – which Judge Kim presides over.

Read more here 

February 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bartow: "Intellectual Property and Domestic Relations: Issues to Consider When There is an Artist, Author, Inventor, or Celebrity in the House"

Ann Bartow (UNH) recently posted to SSRN her older (2001) article Intellectual Property and Domestic Relations: Issues to Consider When There is an Artist, Author, Inventor, or Celebrity in the House, 35 Family Law Quarterly 383 (2001).  Here is the abstract:

This article articulates some of the special issues raised by intellectual property in the context of family-law-oriented concerns. It also necessarily explores the characteristics and properties of personal intellectual property in a broader sense. What follows is an overview of the special issues and concerns intellectual property might present in the context of divorce, estate planning, or probate. Please keep one important caveat in mind: Intellectual property has become a very dynamic area of the law. Governing federal patent, copyright, and trademark statutes are extensively amended with astounding frequency. Right of publicity and trade secret law are also constantly evolving. Legislative proposals that would significantly alter certain aspects of intellectual property law are constantly proposed and may be adopted by Congress (or by individual states) at any time. In addition, courts play a large role in delineating the scope of intellectual property protections, and the judiciary, through its role as adjudicator of intellectual property disputes, has (and will continue to have) a profound effect on the continually shifting landscape of rights, obligations, and privileges associated with intellectual property.

February 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Response to Brooks

From Naomi Cahn (GW), writing for Forbes:

There is much to celebrate about today’s families, including the increasing rate of high school graduation, divorce rates that are decreasing, a rise in shared child care, and a family poverty rate that is less than half of what it was in 1959.

Yet 1959 is in the midst of the time that David Brooks celebrates as the best time for the nuclear family. 

In his March 2020 article in the Atlantic, Brooks examines the transition from a family form based on extended relationships to one that is smaller and less stable and worries about “the wreckage left behind by the collapse of the detached nuclear family.” (The term “nuclear family” was first used more than 100 years by Bronislaw Malinowski, at a time when nuclear referred to “kernel,” rather than atomic nuclei.)

Brooks ascribes the change in family structure to, in large part, cultural forces. He notes that the economy has played some role in this transformation, and, at the end of his article, he mentions the role of the state in supporting and affecting family structure.

The article has drawn much commentary from a variety of perspectives.

Read more here.

February 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Update on Utah Polygamy Bill

From Reuters:

The Utah state Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday effectively to decriminalize polygamy among consenting adults, reducing penalties for a practice with deep religious roots in the predominantly Mormon state.

The bill, which would treat the offense of plural marriage as a simple infraction on par with a parking ticket, now moves to the Utah House of Representatives, where it is likely to face greater resistance.

The bill swiftly cleared the Republican-controlled Senate on a vote of 29-0 with little discussion.

Read more here.

February 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Learning from Same-Sex Couples

An idea for taking lessons from same-sex couples from a NYT opinion piece, available here.

February 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Issues for Engaged Couples

From Naomi Cahn (GW), writing for Forbes:

We are in the middle of engagement season, and there is lots more to think about than choosing a ring or planning a wedding. That’s why, as Jen Glantz recently explained at HuffPost, “I’m Protecting My Money Before My Marriage.”

Getting married changes the emotional landscape of any couple and adds a new level of “commitment,” but it also changes the financial and legal relationship in some obvious and not-so-obvious ways.

First, you’re now eligible for a series of financial benefits and obligations. For example, in many states, if one of you buys “necessaries,” such as housing or food or medical care, then both of you could be on the hook for paying off that purchase. 

Or, when you get divorced, any money or assets that either of you earned during the marriage (regardless of how they are owned during the marriage) will be available for distribution. That is, everything you earn during your marriage (and in some states even what may be inherited during the marriage) is subject to some form of division between you at divorce. For example, even if you deposit your salary into a separate bank account, that account can still be divided at divorce. 

Read more here.

February 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 17, 2020

Utah Bill to Lessen Criminal Punishment of Bigamy

From CNN:

A bill proposed in the Utah Legislature could remove the threat of jail time for polygamists.

New legislation introduced in the Senate would change the offense of bigamy, when two people marry while at least one of them is already legally married, from a felony to an infraction.
Bigamy is currently a third-degree felony in Utah, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. Making it an infraction would put it on par with getting a traffic ticket.
Polygamy has been practiced in Utah by certain religious groups since before it became a state and continues to persist to this day. Though the practice has long been illegal under state and federal law, the Utah attorney general's office has declined to prosecute the offense of bigamy except when it's committed along with other crimes.
The bill was unanimously approved [recently] by a state Senate committee and will now move to the Senate.
Read more here.

February 17, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Legalizing Unmarried Sex in Virginia

From CNN:

Virginia is for lovers -- the married kind. According to state code, it's illegal for unmarried people to have consensual sex.

Sure, it's not widely enforced -- but Virginia Democrats say it's time to scratch the relic of a law for good.
After potentially hundreds of years on the books, the Virginia House of Delegates repealed the "crime of fornication" last week.
In the Virginia Code, fornication -- consensual sex with an unmarried person -- isn't legal. Guilty parties could pay a $250 fine.
Delegate Mark Levine, who introduced the legislation to repeal it, said that the law fuels Virginians' confusion and distrust in the law: If unmarried sex is illegal, then what else is?
"We should not have laws that make most of the population into criminals," he told CNN. "Times are very different now than they were in the 17th and 18th centuries."
The Virginia Senate must pass the bill for it to proceed.
Read more here.

February 16, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Doing Business With A Spouse

From Naomi Cahn (GW), writing for Forbes:

As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, work to become financially independent, they have already taken some steps to develop their new commercial lives. 

 Their Sussex Royal brand, which is actually owned by their foundation, is officially registered with the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office for a number of goods and services. There are suggestions that their next steps should be to consider a book contract, or perhaps Netflix.

However they decide to proceed, they do seem to be working together towards the financial self-sufficiency they seek. In doing so, they are joining the ranks of other spouses who jointly start businesses. 

Couples already need to handle emotional issues, and building a business or working with your partner certainly adds all kinds of complications. Not only do the partners need to be committed to one another, they must also commit themselves to their business. 

Read more here.

February 15, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)