Family Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Indiana's Case on Same-Sex Parents

From Slate:

On Monday, the Supreme Court turned away Indiana’s attempt to strip equal parenting rights from married same-sex couples. The court’s decision ensures that same-sex couples in Indiana will remain the lawful parents of their own children, ending the state’s six-year-long crusade to remove their names from their children’s birth certificates. But beyond Indiana, Monday’s order also suggests that a majority of the justices aren’t eager to roll back marriage equality.

Box v. Henderson involves eight married lesbian couples in Indiana who conceived through artificial insemination. When a married opposite-sex couple uses a sperm donor, the birth mother’s husband is listed as the father on their child’s birth certificate. Genetics alone does not determine parenthood in the state. When married same-sex couples used a sperm donor, however, Indiana officials refused to identify the birth mother’s wife as the child’s second parent. Instead, they insisted that this spouse undergo stepparent adoption, an invasive, lengthy, and expensive process.

Read more here.

December 16, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Call for Papers

Call for Papers

Cross-Border Families under Covid-19

June 22-23, 2021

Zoom Workshop

Cross-border families (also known as transnational and globordered families) are a growing and diverse phenomenon. People around the globe create bi-national spousal relations, are assisted by cross-border reproduction services, or by a migrant care worker who provides care for a dependent family member. Likewise, families become cross-bordered when one of the parents relocates, with or without the child, or when a parent abducts the child. In addition, increasing rates of forced or voluntary migration create more and more cross-border families, with different characteristics and needs. While some kinds of cross-border families have attracted the attention of legal scholarship, other kinds are still neglected, and much is yet to be studied and discussed regarding the challenges embedded in the attempt to secure the right to family life in the age of globalization.

The global Covid-19 crisis provides more, and alarming, evidence of the socio-legal vulnerabilities of cross-border families. For example, bi-national couples are separated for long periods of time; intended parents are unable to collect their baby from the country of the surrogate; and families assisted by a migrant care worker, the workers, and their left behind families, are entangled in new complex relations of power and dependency. Likewise, the right to heath is at risk when a family member is denied treatment because of partial citizenship status, and questions such as the enforcement of child support across borders are even harder to address than in more peaceful times.      

Crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, are often a methodological opportunity for socio-legal research. In many cases, a major social crisis shakes habitualization, and opens up taken for granted social scripts to individual and collective reflection. Likewise, such a crisis involves risk regulation and, in the current case, also plague governance—involving intense emergency regulative changes made by different nation-states that might both reveal and challenge deeply shared norms regarding familial rights and national interests. Hence, our current era lends itself more readily than stable, routinized periods to the investigation of current regulation, and the imagining of options for new regulation regarding cross-border families.

In June 22-23, 2021, we plan an international socio-legal workshop that will explore the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and its regulation on cross-border families. We hope to explore the ways Covid-19 restrictions affect cross-border families, and the role of the law, in different countries, in shaping this impact and in challenging it.

The questions during the workshop might include, but are not limited to:

  • How does the Covid-19 crisis affect cross-border families?
  • How do legal Covid-19 restrictions affect cross-border families?
  • Did national jurisdictions adapted their substantial and procedural laws to meet the challenges faced by cross-border families during the pandemic?
  • What can be learned from comparing different jurisdictions in their response to cross-border families’ needs during the pandemic?
  • What can be learned about the interrelations between globalization, borders, families, and the law, from this crisis?
  • What are the lessons to be learned from the pandemic on how can national, regional and international law be developed to better protect the rights of cross-border families, and those involved in their creation and everyday familial doing, in times of crisis and in more stable times?

Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Prof. Yuko Nishitani, Kyoto Univiertys Law School

The workshop will be conducted via Zoom, and is sponsored by the Minerva Center for Human Rights at Tel Aviv University. It will be open to the public, and hopefully, will set the foundations for further multinational research and collaboration.       

We will give serious consideration to all high-quality relevant research, from any discipline. Work in progress is welcome, as long as the presentation holds new findings or insights and not only declaration of intent. Faculty members as well as independent researchers and advanced research students are welcome to submit.

The screening process for the workshop will include two phases:

Phase I – Abstract: 

Abstracts should include:

- An overview of the main question and arguments of your contribution (up to 500 words)

- Key words

- Contact details [author(s), affiliation (including institute and department), and e-mail address]

- Short bio of author/s (up to 250 words, each)

Abstracts must be in English and be submitted to this email address:

Deadline for submission: February 28th, 2021.

Phase II – Summary:

Those who’s abstract will be accepted, will be notified by March 31th, and will be asked to submit a 3-pages summary of their paper by April 30th. Accepted papers will be presented at the workshop. Presenters are expected to take part in all the workshop's sessions.

Academic Organizers:

Prof. Daphna Hacker, Law Faculty and Gender Studies Program, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Paul Beaumont, Law Faculty, University of Stirling; Prof. Katharina Boele-Woelki, Bucerius Law School, Hamburg; Prof. Sylvie Fogiel-Bijaoui, The College of Management Academic Studies;

Dr. Imen Gallala-Arndt, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology; Dr. Sharon Shakargy, Faculty of Law, Hebrew University; Prof. Zvi Triger, Law School, The College of Management Academic Studies

December 15, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 13, 2020

U.S. Divorce Rate Recently Low

From Yahoo! Sports:

The divorce rate in the U.S. is the lowest it has been in 50 years, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by the Institute for Family Studies.

“For every 1,000 marriages in the last year, only 14.9 ended in divorce,” Wendy Wang, the director of research at IFS, wrote in a post to explain the findings. “This is the lowest rate we have seen in 50 years. It is even slightly lower than in 1970, when 15 marriages ended in divorce per 1,000 marriages.”

“According to the new census data, the median duration of current marriages in the U.S. has increased almost one year in the recent decade, from 19 years in 2010 to 19.8 years in 2019,” she added.

Read more here.

December 13, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 12, 2020

On MA's Requirement of Parenting Class at Divorce

From Boston Magazine:

On a Monday afternoon this summer, when I should have been working, I closed down Slack, shut my bedroom door for privacy, and joined a Zoom call with some 30 strangers. All of us had set aside two and a half hours of our workday, and the same amount of time two days later, to attend a state-ordered parenting class. What had I done to deserve this? I had never abused or neglected my children—one of two reasons the state forces people to attend parenting courses—nor necessarily had any other parents on the call. We were all here because we had decided to get divorced in Massachusetts, and that meant we didn’t have a choice.

The intervention, in my case at least, felt unnecessary at best and infuriating at worst. I’d been a parent for nearly 15 years by the time I logged into the course, and my ex and I—already separated for more than three years—had long ago agreed on the division of our possessions and assets, and on custody and visitation. My two daughters, by all accounts, are not only well adjusted, but are thriving socially, academically, and at home.

Yet in the 1990s the Massachusetts legislature and courts determined that it would be in the best interests of children for all parents who are splitting up—no matter how amicably, no matter how long they have been
living apart—to take a class about the effects of divorce on children. Using videos, PowerPoint presentations, and breakout discussion groups, the courses emphasize that it isn’t good to fight in front of children and seek to improve relations between divorcing parents. Classes with similar goals now exist nearly everywhere in the country, although in most places they are mandated only for parents in contested divorces. Massachusetts is one of just 17 states to require them in all cases. The result is a booming industry: Last year nearly 10,000 parents in the Bay State took the classes from any one of 24 private, nonprofit providers, paying $80 a pop in most cases. With COVID-19 placing unprecedented stress on marriages, and reports of a pandemic-era surge in divorce filings, that number could well increase this year and next.

Read more here.

December 12, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, December 11, 2020

Divorce's Toll

From WebMD:

Couples going through a divorce may see their mental well-being deteriorate -- especially if they are having angry exchanges and other conflicts, a new study shows.

The findings are no surprise, experts said. But the study appears to be the first to capture how married people fare in the midst of a split, rather than after a period of separation.

And overall, both men and women reported poorer physical and mental health than the norm for the general population. That was particularly true if their divorce was messy -- involving fights over kids, hostile communication or other conflicts.

That's not to say that divorce, alone, took the toll on people's well-being.

"Divorce is often understood as a process, where the judicial divorce is one part," said lead researcher Gert Martin Hald, an associate professor of public health at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

So the mental-health fallout of divorce is also the result of the "prolonged experience of relationship distress" that led to the breakup, Hald said.

Read more here.

December 11, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Taylor Swift Album Inspired by Divorce

From NME:

Swift said she found herself being "very triggered by any stories, movies, or narratives revolving around divorce" while writing latest album 'Folklore'

Taylor Swift has revealed she wrote some of the first lyrics to ‘Folklore’ song ‘My Tears Ricochet’ after watching Noah Baumbach’s 2019 film Marriage Story.

Read more here.

December 10, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Wedding Industry Adaption

NPR did a piece on how the wedding industry adapted to the coronavirus here, with one wedding planner saying he's doing more business than ever.

December 9, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

New Year for the Marriage Penalty

From CNBC:

As many newlyweds discover, there’s a lot of sharing that goes on in a marriage.

Including your taxes.

If you tied the knot this year (or plan to do so in December), it may be worthwhile checking out what your new status will mean for your 2020 taxes. While many couples see their tax bill drop post-nuptials, some face a “marriage penalty” — that is, paying more in taxes than if they had remained unmarried and filed as single taxpayers.


Basically, the marriage penalty comes into play when tax-bracket thresholds, and deductions or credits, are not double the amount allowed for single filers. So, newlyweds sometimes find that a bigger tax bill is an unfortunate side effect of marriage.

Roughly 2.2 million marriages occur in a typical year. Due to the pandemic, though, that could be much lower in 2020, according to surveys done in March and June by the Wedding Report. If you’re among the 41% who say they rescheduled the event for next year, you’ve got some time to figure out how it would affect your taxes.

Read more here.

December 8, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 7, 2020

Are Marriage Proposals Outdated?

From the New York Times:

Think about couples you know who are married. Do you know the stories of how any of them got engaged? If so, what are those stories?

Have you read any books or seen shows or movies in which a marriage proposal happens? What, if anything, do you like about how those proposals take place? Do you hope you will have a similar moment someday?

In “Forget the Fancy Proposal. Let’s Just Get Married.” by Suzannah Weiss, she writes: “The proposal is often deemed an essential step toward marriage, having been around since ancient Rome. But many couples today consider it obsolete or superfluous. Some could do without the engagement ring as well.” What do you think? Do proposals seem essential and timeless — a necessary step on the road to marriage? Or do they seem outdated in today’s world?

Read more here.

December 7, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Lowest Recorded Marriage Rates in Australia

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

"I do" has given way to "I don't" and "I never will" as new figures reveal the [Australia]'s lowest marriage rates since the creation of the Commonwealth.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen a collapse in marriages, just 113,815 couples walked down the aisle or stood in a park with a civil celebrant in 2019, a fall of 4.5 per cent.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found the national marriage rate – the number of marriages per 1000 residents –fell to 4.5 last year. At the start of this century, it was six, while its all-time high of almost 12 was recorded in the wake of World War II.

Read more here.

December 6, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Gibraltar Is Pandemic Marriage Hotspot

From the Guardian:

Gibraltar was never on Bruno Miani’s list of places to visit. –But that all changed when the pandemic upended his plans to marry his girlfriend in Dublin, where they live.

With government offices closed due to coronavirus restrictions, the 40-year-old photographer and his partner, Natalia Senna Alves de Lima, struggled to get the documents they needed for a wedding licence and faced a long wait for an available time slot for the ceremony.

So the Brazilian couple travelled to Gibraltar, a tiny British territory at the southernmost tip of Spain, where they tied the knot at the local registry office.

“The fastest way to get married now is to go to Gibraltar,” said Miani. “We love each other a lot. We already live together as a married couple. This makes it official.”

Gibraltar requires minimum bureaucracy to get married and there are fewer border restrictions than other places, which has helped turn it into a wedding hotspot during the pandemic.

Couples just need to present their passports and birth certificates, and stay in the territory overnight either before or after their wedding. They then need to have their marriage registered by the authorities in their home country.

Read more here.

December 5, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 4, 2020

Baby Born from 27-Year-Old Embryo

From CNN:

Though Molly Gibson is just over one month old, she could've been born at any point in the last 27 years.

Her embryo was frozen in October 1992 and stayed frozen until earlier this year in February, when Tina and Ben Gibson of Tennessee adopted her embryo. Tina gave birth to Molly in late October -- nearly 27 years after her embryo was first frozen.

Molly's birth is believed to have set a new record -- one previously held by her older sister, Emma -- for the longest-frozen embryo known to have to resulted in a birth. Not that records matter to the Gibsons.

Read more here.

December 4, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Romance & Politics

From UVA Today:

UVA Today reached out to [Naomi] Cahn to learn more about how politics influences people’s dating and marital patterns as well as where they choose to live.

Q. How do politics – and party affiliation – influence people’s dating behaviors?

A. OKCupid, a dating website, recently reported that more than three-quarters of people said their romantic partner’s political leanings are “very important.” In reporting its findings, OKCupid said “I voted” has become the new “I love you.” In fact, according to OKCupid, users of the site can now get a “Voter 2020 profile badge so registered voters can find the love they deserve.”

OKCupid also found a gender gap larger than revealed in the 2020 exit polls: namely, 73% of women reported they leaned Democratic, compared to 57% of men. By contrast, the preliminary election exit polls found a 56%-48% split. The dating app Bumble found politics ranked ninth out of 50 factors women considered when considering whom to date.

Q. Do political leanings and their influence on personal relationships influence one gender more than another, and how does that play out with people who identify as non-binary or are members of the LGBTQ community?

A. I have not yet seen data related to people who identify as non-binary. However, a study by the Public Religion Research Institute reported in 2019 that “Republicans (70%) are substantially more likely than independents (39%) or Democrats (33%) to say they would be unhappy if their child married someone who is transgender.”

Read more here.

December 3, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

New Fatwa on Inter-Faith Marriage

From Al-Monitor:

An Islamic scholar has stirred up major debates by backing the marriage of Muslim women and non-Muslim men, an issue always dealt with nervously by the religious establishment and pro-establishment scholars.

Amna Nosier, a professor of Islamic philosophy at Al-Azhar University and a member of the Egyptian Parliament, said there is no text in the Quran that bans the marriage of Muslim women and non-Muslim men. Islam permits Muslim men to marry non-Muslim women, provided that they do not prevent them from observing their faith.

There are many instances of Muslim men, including celebrities, who have married non-Muslim women. Egypt's former minister of religious endowments, Mahmud Hamdi Zakzouk, who died in April this year, was married to a German Christian woman.

Speaking on al-Hadath al-Youm TV Nov. 17, Nosier added that the question is especially clear if the men are Christians or Jews, which Islam calls “people of the book."

A day later, Nosier told the state-run Channel One TV that the Quran only forbids the marriage of Muslim women and "idolaters." She called on religious scholars to study and reconsider the issue.

Read more here.

December 2, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Couples Therapy to Help Political Strains

From CBS News:

Just about everyone seems to agree that the state of our union is on the rocks.

"Definitely like the feeling where the husband comes home and goes and does his hobbies and doesn't talk to the wife until they go to bed," said Drew Ginsburg.

Some, like family therapist Bill Doherty, think America is like a marriage, one that's not going well. Doherty is co-founder of a nonprofit called Braver Angels, which runs thousands of workshops nationwide dedicated to repairing the bond between liberals and conservatives. Doherty uses the same techniques he's used to help husbands and wives. 

"We are an American family. We sit at the same table. You can imagine one, big Thanksgiving table. And if we expel people from the table because of their political views, we will lose our ability to function as a country," Doherty said. 

Doherty said Americans first need to decide that our democracy is worth saving, and not everybody thinks so. 

"We need to have a divorce," one man told Dokoupil.

Read more here.

December 1, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)