Sunday, October 31, 2021

A Gay Music Teacher Got Married. The Brooklyn Diocese Fired Him.

From The New York Times:

Matthew LaBanca is bringing attention to a legal loophole that allows religious institutions to exclude people in same-sex civil marriages from jobs by deeming them ministers.

October 31, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 30, 2021

With Proposed Reauthorization of Federal Child Abuse Legislation, Researchers Make the Case to Better Help Substance-exposed Infants

From University of Connecticut Today:

The proposed reauthorization of the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, also known as CAPTA – the foundational child abuse prevention legislation in the United States – has the potential to drastically and positively impact infants exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero.

But according to researchers at the University of Connecticut, the University of Southern California, and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, policymakers and administrators will need to focus on CAPTA’s implementation to correct the shortcomings of the past and to achieve a public health approach to addressing the needs of substance-exposed infants.

The last revisions of CAPTA provisions concerning substance-exposed infants happened in 2010 and 2016, but were underfunded and slowed state-level adoption. 

[W]hile placing children in foster care should be avoided whenever possible, the number of infants and young children removed from their families for parental substance use has increased over the past decade, suggesting that additional changes are needed to CAPTA to help support families.

Read more here

October 30, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 29, 2021

Americans May Finally Get Paid Family Leave. Here's What to Know

From CNN:

The United States currently has no federal paid family or sick leave benefit, making it an outlier among developed countries.
It is the only nation that does not offer some paid leave to new mothers among the 38 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Policies vary among the countries in that group, but the average is 18 weeks of paid maternity leave. 
A proposal put forth by House Democrats would allow workers whose employers don't already offer paid family or medical leave to apply directly to the Treasury Department for the benefit when they need it.
Those eligible would include parents welcoming new children through birth, adoption or foster care and workers recovering from serious illnesses or caring for seriously ill family members. They would receive partial pay, the percentage of which is based on a sliding scale, so that the lowest-income workers would receive 85% of their regular pay and the highest-earning would receive 5% -- leaving out those earning more than $250,000 a year.
The federal government would pay for the benefits and would partially reimburse employers who already offer paid family and sick leave.
Read more here. 

October 29, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Indiana Asks For Court of Appeals Review in Lawsuit Seeking Change in Foster Care System

From Indy Star:

The state of Indiana is asking the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to weigh in on a district court’s decision to deny its motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the practices of the state’s foster care system.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in 2019 filed and alleges the state failed to address documented issues within the Indiana Department of Child Services that placed children in “serious and unconstitutional danger.” Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges the state’s flawed child welfare system “inflicts further trauma upon an already vulnerable population” and does not adequately meet the needs of the children it serves.

As relief, the lawsuit demands the agency make sweeping changes to its policies and practices. In doing so, attorneys for the plaintiffs asked the federal court to assert jurisdiction — which is the crux of the state's argument as it seeks appeal. 

Read more here

October 28, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Aftermath of Gray Divorce For Men, Women, and Their Adult Children

From Institute for Family Studies:

From certain angles, “gray divorce,” usually defined as divorces involving couples over 50, doesn’t seem like such a big deal. 

But the reality is that gray divorce, whose rates have doubled since 1990 and now represents a quarter of all divorces in the U.S., does have individual and social costs worth pondering, especially in an aging society. Much of what we know about the subject has come through the work of a team of sociologists from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University over the past decade or so. 

What sets the study apart from earlier work on gray divorce is its long view into the aftermath, particularly its impact on the relationships between older divorcing parents and their adult children. 

So, what happens to relations between parents and adult children after gray divorce? . . . Mothers increase their involvement with their adult children; . . . . For men, it’s the opposite; . . . . 

Read more here

October 27, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Adopting A Baby Is Harder Than Ever

From The Atlantic:

Adopting a baby or toddler is much more difficult than it was a few decades ago. Of the nearly 4 million American children who are born each year, only about 18,000 are voluntarily relinquished for adoption. Though the statistics are unreliable, some estimates suggest that dozens of couples are now waiting to adopt each available baby. Since the mid-1970s—the end of the so-called baby-scoop era, when large numbers of unmarried women placed their children for adoption—the percentage of never-married women who relinquish their infants has declined from nearly 9 percent to less than 1 percent.

In 2010, Bethany Christian Services, the largest Protestant adoption agency in the U.S., placed more than 700 infants in private adoptions. Last year, it placed fewer than 300. International adoptions have not closed the gap. The number of children American parents adopt each year from abroad has declined rapidly too, from 23,000 in 2004 (an all-time high) to about 3,000 in 2019.

At a glance, this shortage of adoptable babies may seem like a problem, and certainly for people who desperately want to adopt a baby, it feels like one. But this trend reflects a number of changing social and geopolitical attitudes that have combined to shrink the number of babies or very young children available for adoption. 

For much of American history, placing a child for adoption was an obligation, not a choice, for poor, single women.

As international adoptions have declined, parallel cultural changes have led to a reduction in American babies who would, in an earlier era, likely have been relinquished. 

To adoption reformers, the practice is now largely seen as a way to provide families for older, special-needs children rather than a way to provide healthy babies to people who want to parent. The result is often a difficult, expensive process for couples who want to adopt a baby or toddler. Adopting a newborn can cost $45,000 or more. 

And in addition to rethinking international adoption, some groups are also reconsidering whether single, poor American women should be encouraged to place their babies for adoption. They seemed to have absorbed the growing concern that people of color are surrendering their children to white adoptive parents, the bad press about families who weren’t equipped to raise their newly adopted children, and the idea that “families belong together” should apply to poor people too. 

Read more here. 

October 26, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Court Clarifies Unusual Expenses for Support Guidelines Deviation


The Pennsylvania Superior Court helped clarify what warrants a deviation from the child support guidelines in the recent matter of Thompson v. Thompson, 2021.

The support order entered in favor of the father was according to the standard Pennsylvania child support guidelines based on the respective incomes of the parents. The mother appealed this order to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

On appeal, the mother argued that the trial court erred in not granting her a deviation (downward) from the Pennsylvania child support guidelines. Per 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 4322(a), deviations from the child support guidelines are permitted for “unusual needs, extraordinary expenses and other factors …” Similarly, Pa.R.C.P. 19101-16-5(b)(1) says “the trier of fact shall consider unusual needs and unusual fixed obligations …” 

The mother argued that “unusual” should refer to the “amount” of her expenses as well as a more obvious definition meaning “weird, bizarre or unheard of …” In other words, her contention was that if a particular expense an obligor has to pay is particularly large as compared to her income, or result in the obligor living paycheck-to-paycheck, then, the mother asserted, this should be considered “unusual.”

[T]he court first noted that there is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support derived from the Pennsylvania child support guidelines is correct, and in reviewing the support order at issue in this case, the court “discerned nothing unjust or inappropriate …”

The court rejected the mother’s novel definition of the word unusual. The court believed that the mother’s interpretation would undermine the point of the guidelines, and result in the case-by-case analysis for support that the guidelines were designed and purposed to obviate.

This does not mean, of course, that deviations for unusual needs and expenses would or could never be allowed, but the mother did not present any such need or expenses.

Read more here

October 25, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Quebec: Regulation Of Use Of Surrogate Mother In New Family Laws

From Toronto Sun:

The provincial government intends to recognize and regulate the use of surrogate mothers as part of its overhaul of Quebec’s family laws. Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette announced on Thursday that Bill 2 will modernize the province’s body of family laws to recognize new social realities. At this moment, criminal code prohibits the use of women to carry a child if payment has been made. By contract, no criminal liability if no payment has been made.

Bill 2 would create a framework for resorting to surrogate mothers by obliging the conclusion of a surrogacy agreement before the onset of pregnancy. It would also require obtaining, after the birth of the child, the consent of the person who gave birth that their parentage never existed. The surrogate mother would have to be at least 21 years old, and still could not be paid, but can be compensated for loss of work income and for several expenses. She would be able to change her mind and terminate the contract at any time without risking a lawsuit.

Bill 2 would also amend the province’s Act Respecting Parental Insurance and Act Respecting Labour Standards to take into account, among other things, surrogacy when it comes to providing leave and benefits. The bill also adds to the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms the right to learn about one’s origins for anyone whose procreation involved the contribution of a third party.

Read more here.

October 24, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 23, 2021

China: Punishing Parents For Child's Misbehavior

From CNN:

Parents in China whose young children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes could face punishment under proposed new legislation. In the draft of the family education promotion law, guardians will be reprimanded and ordered to go through family education guidance programs if prosecutors find very bad or criminal behavior in children under their care.

The draft family education promotion law, which will be reviewed at the NPC Standing Committee session this week, also urges parents to arrange time for their children to rest, play, and exercise.

In recent months, the Education Ministry has limited gaming hours for minors, allowing them to play online games for one hour on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only.

Read more here.

October 23, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 22, 2021

Foster Care And Adoption Became Second Nature

From National Review:

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the Supreme Court case about Mississippi’s abortion law. Foster care and adoption came up frequently. A foster-parent training run by Project 1.27, launched by a pastor and now run by a woman who is both a foster mother and an adoptive mother. Those volunteering as foster parents through Project 1.27 complete 20 hours of training, though only twelve are required by the state. 

Project 1.27 and groups like it that are part of the “More than Enough” movement associated with the Christian Alliance for Orphans, which both motivate and equip families to welcome into their home children who often have experienced severe trauma.  The goal is to get more families to be involved in foster care.

This Dobbs moment could be a rallying cry for children — so that the hearts of this nation might be softened to find solutions for children and families who will love them, in communities who love the children as well. 

Read more here.

October 22, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Issue Over Online Resources For LGBTQ Youth

From The Texas Tribune:

Texas’ child welfare agency removed a webpage that offered resources to LGBTQ youth following complaints by one of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s GOP primary challengers, according to internal agency communications.

On Aug. 31, Republican former state Sen. Don Huffines released a video on Twitter claiming that DFPS is “promoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth” through a webpage titled “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.”

In each of the four legislative sessions this year, legislation targeting transgender youth has been a top priority for Republican lawmakers. During the third special session, legislation prohibiting transgender youth from playing on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity has passed in the Senate and has passed out of committee in the House.

Read more here.


October 21, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

2021 Indiana Parenting Guidelines Amendment

From Indiana Lawyer:

The Indiana Supreme Court has issued a 28-page order detailing changes made to Indiana’s parenting time guidelines, which will take effect New Year’s Day. 

Changes include the addition of a new section advising how to approach custody and parenting time during a public health emergency, such as the OVID-19 pandemic. Existing court orders regarding custody and parenting time shall remain in place during a public health emergency and shall be followed, the section says, advising that parties should be flexible and cooperate for the best interests and health of the children.

An additional change was made to the number of days in which a parent must make notice of relocation of residence, from 90 days to 30 days before the intended move date. 

The guidelines also include a new section on shared parenting and strikes a previous section focused on parallel parenting. It includes a new appendix outlining whether shared parenting is a viable option for families with questions to consider, striking the model parallel parenting plan order.

Read more here.

October 20, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Pets Custody In Divorce Cases

From KJZZ:

Increasing divorce rate during pandemic catches attention on issues post dissolution of marriage, such as child custody, property distribution, and parenting time, etc. Pet custody cases similarly cause concern to attorneys.Since many people added animals to their families over the past 19 months, attorneys are preparing for a rise in pet custody cases.

How law sees pets custody is a crucial point and jurisdictions vary on this issue. Like most states, Arizona law views pets as personal property. Only Alaska, California and Illinois have laws that deal with pet custody.

In some cases, a judge might award custody to the person who bought and registered the pet. Additionally, in some cases, primary caregiver gets primary custody. Other times, judge considers what is the best arrangements for pets. Share custody is likely feasible for parties who are willing to pursue.

Read more here.

October 19, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 18, 2021

Marital Status Affects Supplemental Security Income

From: AARP:

Being married can have a major impact on what you receive in Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a Social Security-administered benefit for low-income older and disabled people, in two important ways: 1. If you and your spouse both qualify for SSI, you are subject to a maximum couple’s benefit, which is less than the sum of two individual benefits.
2. If you are applying for or receiving SSI and your spouse is not, Social Security can consider his or her income in determining your eligibility or payment amount, a process called “deeming.”

While marital status does not affect Social Security Disability Insurance which is another benefit providing for people unable to work due to serious health issues, SSI is based in large part of financial need.

In 2021, this maximum benefit is $794 a month, and will rise to $841 a month in 2022. However, if two beneficiaries are married to each other, they are considered an eligible couple and don’t get their own separate benefits. The government applies a couple’s rate, currently $1,191 a month — 1.5 times the individual benefit. (It will rise to $1,261 in 2022.) Their combined income is factored into determining the joint payment.

Whether or how much of a spouse’s income can be “deemed,” or applied to your SSI eligibility, is determined by a complex computation. Social Security discounts some earnings from the calculation, and there can be additional deductions if you have children living with you.

Read more here.

October 18, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Justices Seem Ready to Let Kentucky’s Attorney General Defend Abortion Law

From The New York Times:

The Supreme Court heard arguments in an abortion case on Tuesday, but the issue for the justices was a procedural one: Could Kentucky’s attorney general, a Republican, defend a state abortion law when the governor, a Democrat, refused to pursue further appeals after a federal appeals court struck down the law?

As the argument progressed through a thicket of technical issues, a majority of the justices seemed inclined to say yes.

Tuesday’s case, Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, No. 20-601, concerned a Kentucky law that challengers said effectively banned the most common method of abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy, dilation and evacuation. The justices barely discussed the law during Tuesday’s argument.

Rather, they focused on the tangled history of the case and the complicated jurisdictional and procedural questions that arose from it.

The case started in 2018, when the state’s only abortion clinic and two doctors sued various state officials to challenge the law. The state’s attorney general at the time, Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said his office was not responsible for enforcing the law and entered into a stipulation dismissing the case against him, agreeing to abide by the final judgment and reserving the right to appeal.

While the case was moving forward, Kentucky’s political landscape shifted. Mr. Beshear, who had been attorney general, was elected governor. Daniel Cameron, a Republican, was elected attorney general.

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the challengers, said Mr. Cameron was bound by the stipulation signed by his predecessor. “It doesn’t matter that there’s been a political party change,” she said.

Justice Elena Kagan said that was both basically right and a little unsettling.

Read more here. 

October 17, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Top State Court Upholds Trust Provision Requiring Beneficiary to be Unmarried

From The ABA Journal:

The Indiana Supreme Court has upheld a trust provision that made distribution of an inheritance contingent on the beneficiary being unmarried.

The state supreme court ruled Oct. 8 that the provision is not an unlawful restraint on marriage.

The Indiana Supreme Court said Indiana law voids will provisions that condition a spouse’s inheritance on remaining unmarried. But the law doesn’t apply to trusts, which can set marriage conditions on spouses and others.

“The trust code does not prohibit conditions in restraint of marriage at all,” the Indiana Supreme Court said. “What it prohibits is ignoring the settlor’s intent (and where relevant, the trust’s purpose) as manifested in the trust’s plain terms.”

Read more here. 

October 16, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 15, 2021

Families Separated by Trump Administration at the Border Still Waiting For Reunification

From CBS 60 Minutes:

It's been 35 years since Congress last passed a sweeping overhaul of the immigration system. So, president after president has careened from crisis to crisis at the border. President Biden is no different.

His administration is struggling to deal with one of the largest surges of migrants at the southern border in 20 years while, at the same time, trying to clean up another immigration mess you might think was already fixed.  

Michelle Brane leads the family reunification task force formed by President Biden in the first weeks of his presidency. Four federal agencies are working on it, but despite their power and reach, in seven months, they've only reunited 52 families.

Michelle Brane: We estimate that over 1,000, somewhere between 1,000, 1,500 maybe more remain separated. It's very hard to know because there's no record.

A federal investigation described the government's record-keeping during child separations as "ad-hoc."   One border station "used a basic whiteboard" to keep track of the children. Phone numbers, addresses and names for parents were missing. The federal judge who ordered the U.S. government in 2018 to reunite the families wrote, "migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property."

Read more here. 

October 15, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Child Welfare: Better Data and Guidance Could Help States Reinvest Adoption Savings and Improve Federal Oversight

From The U.S. Government Accountability Office:

Legislation enacted in 2008 increased federal reimbursement of state assistance payments to adoptive families, saving states more than $800 million from FY 2015-19. But, states must reinvest all of these "adoption savings" back into child welfare services.

From fiscal years 2015 through 2019, states collectively reinvested $516 million of the $843 million they accrued in “adoption savings”.

The Children's Bureau—part of the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF)—monitors states' adoption savings reinvestment, but its oversight is hindered by a lack of detailed data. Further, there is no statutory deadline for states to spend their savings, and Children's Bureau officials said states can delay their spending indefinitely. Also, the state data the Children's Bureau collects annually does not always allow it to definitively determine states' compliance with the requirement to spend at least 30 percent of their annual adoption savings on post-permanency and preventative services, including at least 20 percent on post-permanency services (the 20 and 30 percent requirements). If states do not reinvest their adoption savings or meet the 20 and 30 percent requirements, children will not benefit from the additional spending as intended by the law.

Nearly half (23 of 52) of the states reported in GAO's survey at least one significant challenge to reinvesting their adoption savings, most often citing early spending difficulties such as needing time to understand the new requirements and competing state budget priorities. 

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 included a provision for GAO to study states' adoption savings reinvestment.

Read more here

October 14, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Justice Department Commemorates National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

From The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs:

The Justice Department joins law enforcement partners, victim services professionals, advocates and communities across the country in observing October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and announces more than $476 million in Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) grants. The funding supports projects that meaningfully address the needs of underserved and marginalized survivors, improve access to justice, enhance survivor safety, hold accountable those who have caused harm, and provide training and technical assistance to an array of professionals and systems working to address sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in every state and territory, as well as dozens of tribal communities.

In addition to administering grant funding, the department is combatting domestic and sexual violence in local and tribal communities on other fronts. The department has outlined a comprehensive strategy to address violent crime, which asked U.S. Attorneys to evaluate the current drivers of violent crime in their regions, including domestic violence, and to develop strategies to address these drivers. OVW’s announcement today of over $476 million in grants is a key part of that strategy. In addition, on Sept. 20, the department’s Office of Justice Programs announced more than $1.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2021 Victims of Crime Act funding.

In his Domestic Violence Awareness Month proclamation, President Joseph R. Biden, the original author of the Violence Against Women Act, called on all Americans to reaffirm their commitment to ending this violence, and in his Fiscal Year 2022 budget, proposed a historic $1 billion for grant programs administered by OVW.

Read more here.

October 13, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Iranian Authority Mandates Pregnant Women Be Reported To Prevent 'Criminal Abortions'

From ABC News:

"One of the ways to prevent abortion is ... by connecting laboratories and the clinical centres to introduce mothers with positive pregnancy test results," the letter states.

In Iran, abortion is illegal unless there's proof that giving birth would endanger the life of the mother or child, or pregnancy screening tests show the child will have serious physical or mental disabilities. This law only applies to pregnant women who are legally married. Women who get pregnant from extramarital affairs have no legal options for abortion in Iran. While some 9,000 legal abortions are performed annually in Iran, a country of 82 million people, more than 300,000 illegal abortions are also performed there each year, according to the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

Now, conservatives in Iran are trying to restrict abortions even further by requiring a medical team’s diagnosis as well as the approval of two "faqihs" – or religious experts – and a judge. The controversial bill has yet to be ratified.
Read more here

October 12, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)