Family Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Sleep Divorce

From CBS News:

Ever had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep because of your partner?

Whether it's getting disturbed by snoring, stolen covers during the night or differing schedules waking you up before your alarm — you're not alone.

People are taking to social media to talk about "sleep divorces," the idea of sleeping separately from your partner to get a better night's sleep. On TikTok, there are more than 355,000 views for the hashtag #sleepdivorce — and experts say there can be potential benefits.

"There are benefits for some partners to sleep separately," said Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans, a consultant to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Studies demonstrate that when one bed partner has a sleep disorder it can negatively affect the other sleeper. For example, bed partners tend to wake up at the same time when one has insomnia. Similarly, when bed partners differ in chronotype, like when one is a night owl the other is an early bird, these differing sleep preferences can negatively impact both partners' sleep."

On the other hand, sleeping with your partner can help in detecting any conditions you may have been unaware of, Flynn-Evans said, as sleep clinicians use reports from bed partners to help identify patients with sleep disorders.

May 4, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Dangerous Divorces

From Time:

Of the almost 700,000 divorces in the United States each year, 70% of them are initiated by women. In 2021, one of us (Rebecca) became one of those women when she sought a divorce in her home state of North Carolina. But she was surprised to learn that before she could even file, she needed to wait a full year first, as North Carolina is one of a handful of states that mandates a separation period before couples are allowed to file for divorce. Although she was sure of her decision, Rebecca couldn’t do anything but count down the days on the required clock—and stay legally married.

As a former state policy advisor and an investigative journalist, we teamed up to better understand the requirements that can prevent people from leaving unhappy marriages. Together, we researched state-by-state divorce policies and interviewed leaders in advocacy and law in an effort to make information more accessible in what is an intentionally complicated system. What we found was striking: Divorce in the U.S. is governed by an arbitrary constellation of policies that impede the freedom to end a marriage and have a disproportionately harmful impact on women. And as confusing and inconvenient as these laws were for Rebecca, the impact they can have on women in financially unstable or violent relationships is nothing short of devastating. Policies that make people wait to get divorced are paternalistic at best, and dangerous at worst.

Read more here.

May 3, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Divorce Announcement

From the satirical McSweeneys:

With a heavy heart, I must announce something profoundly personal and painfully private to my 900,000 followers.

Over the past few weeks, many of you have been asking: “Where is John?” “Why isn’t John in any of your pics anymore?” and “Where did you get that gorgeous floral crop top?”

Well, John and I are getting a divorce. And the top is from Bougie Barn. (Use promo code DIVORCE to get 30 percent off your next purchase.) #BougieBarnPartner.

Our decision to split was not made lightly. John and I spent hours wondering how this would affect our beautiful children and my future content. We asked ourselves tough and critical questions to ensure ending our relationship felt right, like: “How will we co-parent?” and “Should our divorce reveal be a YouTube video, a TikTok, or a hurried Notes app screenshot?”

I know what you’re thinking: “You guys seemed so happy.” Well, that’s because I Facetune smiles on John’s face.

John has always been an integral part of my life and my social media feed, but the time has come for me to choose ME. (Be the first to get your hands on CHOOSE ME merch via the link in my bio.)

Read more here.

May 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 1, 2023

Call for Papers--Roundtable on Nonmarriage and the Law

Roundtable on Nonmarriage and the Law

Rutgers Law School - Newark

September 28-29, 2023

Call for Papers

Abstract Submission Deadline: June 5, 2023

Rutgers Law School - Newark will host the Fifth Nonmarriage and the Law Roundtable, a conference exploring interdisciplinary issues surrounding relationships and statuses outside of monogamous marriage, on September 28-29, 2023.

Over 19 million adults are nonmarital cohabitants. Other adults are “living apart together”—in committed relationships but living under separate roofs—or are in nonmarital relationships marked by some measure of intimacy or dependency.  An increasing number of people are forming their own “families by choice” or are single by choice. Legal and law reform responses to these situations vary, and scholars from multiple disciplines are studying different approaches to these developments.

This Roundtable will bring together scholars in law; sociology; economics; social work; women, gender & sexuality studies; critical race theory; and related fields. Papers might address topics including the following:
● Economic rights of nonmarital partners and single individuals, whether at separation or death
● Implications of legal regulation across different demographic categories, including race, gender, class, and sexual orientation
● The design of regulatory responses to families-of-choice and single people
● The relationship between marriage and nonmarital statuses
● Constitutional issues relating to nonmarriage
● Nonmarriage, parenthood, and childrearing
● The demography and sociology of nonmarital relationships, including the impact of the COVID pandemic
● The international and comparative law of nonmarriage
● The pedagogy of teaching about nonmarriage.

The Roundtable will consist of approximately 4-5 panels over the course of one day, with dinner on the evening of the 28th, and the Roundtable to take place on the 29th.  Participants will attend the full day and will be asked to read approximately 6-8 papers.  The event will conclude with a dinner.

To apply, please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words, as well as a CV, using this form by June 5, 2023.

Submissions will be vetted by the organizing committee. Selection will be based on the originality of the abstract as well as its capacity to engage with the other papers in a collaborative dialogue. We are working with journals to arrange publication opportunities.  If you are interested in publishing a paper (5,000-15,000 words) as part of this process, please indicate your interest when you submit your abstract. Participants will be notified by the beginning of July 2023. Drafts for distribution at the Roundtable of no more than 7,500 words will be due on September 15, 2023.

Rutgers Law School may be able to allocate limited funds to help cover reasonable travel costs and accommodation for selected participants. If you need financial assistance to attend, please specify in the form your city of departure and estimated travel costs.

We look forward to your submissions and participation. Questions can be directed to the
[email protected] address or the organizing committee members.

Anibal Rosario Lebrón
Assistant Professor of Law
Rutgers Law School - Newark
[email protected]

Albertina Antognini
James E. Rogers Professor of Law
University of Arizona
James E. Rogers College of Law
[email protected]

Naomi Cahn
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Distinguished Professor of Law
Nancy L. Buc ’69 Research Professor in Democracy and Equity
University of Virginia School of Law
[email protected]

Kaiponanea Matsumura
Professor of Law
Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
[email protected]

Amanda Miller
Professor of Sociology
University of Indianapolis
[email protected]

May 1, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Not Married, After All

From New York Times:

In 1989, the Appellate Division of New York’s Supreme Court ruled on a couple’s peculiar divorce case. A divorce, it turned out, wasn’t necessary — because they had never been legally married.

New York law stipulated that only ordained members of the clergy and certain government officials could solemnize a marriage. The couple were wed in 1986 by an officiant ordained by the Universal Life Church, a nondenominational religious group that offered fast certificates of ministry. But the Universal Life Church wasn’t an “ecclesiastical body,” the court ruled. It said the pair’s marriage — along with a contested prenuptial agreement — was thus null and void.

“The last thing you want to find out when you’re getting divorced is that you were never married,” said Bob Woletz, who at the time edited The New York Times’s Society News pages. (Those pages later became the Weddings section.)

The 1989 case set a precedent: Marriages performed by nontraditional ministers of organizations like the Universal Life Church were not recognized by the state. The case also created a problem for Mr. Woletz and his colleagues: Some couples writing to The Times in hopes of being announced in the wedding columns didn’t know that their impending unions might not be legitimate, in the eyes of New York. The problem grew as the Universal Life Church and other ministries began offering even easier ordainment through online certification.

Read more here.

April 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Same-Sex Marriage in India

From Wall Street Journal:

NEW DELHI—In landmark hearings before India’s Supreme Court, a series of petitioners are arguing for the expansion of marriage rights to millions of LGBTQ people in the world’s most populous nation, but are facing opposition from the country’s socially conservative government.

The closely watched proceedings, which began mid-April, come five years after the court decriminalized gay sex. Its other rulings over the past decade have brought rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people to the forefront, including one in 2014 that recognized transgender people as a third gender. In 2017, the court said privacy, including a person’s sexual orientation, is a constitutional right for all.

Read more here.


April 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 28, 2023

Slavery's Link to Marriage

From the Conversation:

Governments and religious institutions regulate marriage. Such regulations are heavily laden with specific moral ideas and cultural taboos. There are heated debates around what counts as “proper” marriage: should polygamy or monogamy be preferred? What should be the minimal age for marriage?

Despite these debates, all contemporary societies see marriage as a sacrosanct institution that deserves legal protection. Not so slavery.

Today slavery is abolished in all countries. But 250 years ago various forms of slavery would have been legal on all continents.

During the period of legal slavery, marriage and slavery were closely interconnected and sometimes overlapped. Slave owners could force their slaves to marry, remain unmarried, or separate from their spouses. They could also marry them.

Read more here.

April 28, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Romance Reality TV

From Reuters:

If South Korea's big boom in dating and relationship reality TV shows is anything to go by, the country's interest in romance has never been greater.

At least 20 such shows aired across the country's cable TV networks and video streaming platforms last year, more than triple the number in 2021, according to a Reuters tally.

There's a plethora of shows matchmaking young single people, but also, notably, a growing number highlighting South Korea's increasing acceptance of non-traditional relationships that don't revolve around marriage and starting a family.

Read more here.

April 27, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

"Wedding Sprawl"

From the Atlantic:

Forget the “Big Day”; many modern weddings are more like a “Big Year.” First there’s the proposal, sometimes accompanied by a “proposal party.” Next comes the engagement bash, the bridal shower, and the bachelor or bachelorette weekend—the latter of which is getting longer. Then it’s time for the ceremony and the reception, which may be bookended by extra events such as welcome drinks, a rehearsal dinner, and a morning-after brunch. Finally, the newlyweds make plans for their honeymoon—or, for many U.S. couples, their honeymoons, plural. Rather than going on just one big trip, lots of people are also taking either a short mini-moon right after the festivities end or an early-moon before they begin. All of this means more dates saved, more friends involved, more vendors tapped, and more money exuberantly (or reluctantly) spent. The celebrations can feel endless. Welcome to wedding sprawl.

Read more here.

April 26, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Retirement Age

From the Atlantic:

Lifting the age at which retirees can receive their full Social Security benefits is one of those policies that sound sober and prudent on the face of it. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the Social Security trust fund will run out of money 10 years from now in part because current beneficiaries got such a large cost-of-living adjustment this year. The ostensibly obvious solution is to have Americans work a little longer before they can access their full benefits—something that will help the country avoid turning into Japan, whose productivity and GDP have sagged as the elderly make up an ever larger share of the population.

In reality, raising the retirement age is the fetishistic obsession of a tiny sliver of Beltway wonks, people wholly out of step with what average Americans want and need. There is more than one way to keep the United States from turning into Japan. One is to admit millions of additional immigrants—something proven to increase the number of start-ups and help the rate of economic growth. The U.S. could also establish a child allowance and a rational paid-leave policy to help families that want more kids.

Read more here.

April 25, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 24, 2023

Huntington: "Pragmatic Family Law"

Clare Huntington (Fordham) recently posted to SSRN her article Pragmatic Family Law, Harvard Law Review, Vol. 136, No. 6, p. 1501, 2023.  Here is the abstract:

Family law is a central battleground for a polarized America, with seemingly endless conflict over abortion, parental control of school curricula, gender-affirming health care for children, and similar flash points. This is hardly surprising for an area of law that implicates fundamental concerns about equality, bodily autonomy, sexual liberty, gender norms, parenting, and religion. Polarization poses significant risks to children and families, but centering contestation obscures another important reality. In many areas of doctrine and policy, family law has managed to avoid polarization, even for politically and socially combustible issues. Instead, states are converging on similar rules and policies, working toward consensus on once-divisive issues, and settling into a pluralism that does not line up neatly with the red-blue divide.

What ties together these widespread but underappreciated patterns of convergence, depolarization, and nonpartisan pluralism? This Article argues that a deep, underlying commonality is a pragmatic method of decision- and policymaking. Polarization has a long history in the United States, but so, too, does pragmatism. With roots in nineteenth-century philosophy and now deployed by advocates and scholars in multiple contexts and disciplines, the living tradition of American pragmatism rejects contestation over abstract ideals in favor of solving problems through experience-based learning, experimentation, application of empirical evidence, and contextualized decisionmaking. As this Article demonstrates, across contemporary family law, judges and policymakers are eschewing debates about political ideology and instead are focusing on whether a doctrine or policy works to enhance specific, concrete, and relatively uncontested aspects of child and family well-being. These legal actors base decisions on available evidence and center the lived experience of those enmeshed in the legal system. And they tailor each decision to its specific context.

Recognizing a common methodological foundation — what this Article calls pragmatic family law — has implications for scholars, legal actors, and advocates. Crystallizing the distinct approach to decision- and policymaking highlights its utility in advancing wellbeing and encourages legal actors and advocates to use the method more intentionally. It invites scholars to weigh the advantages of this approach against others, notably rights-based litigation and values-based debate. And it demonstrates how pragmatism can recalibrate family law doctrine to mitigate concerns about indeterminacy and provide direction for institutional reform.

Identifying pragmatism as a distinct approach also underscores its significant limitations, especially in addressing the root causes of racial inequity. Many instances of pragmatic family law equally or disproportionately benefit children and families of color, but these doctrines and policies are typically framed in race-neutral terms. When a problem is understood to affect primarily families of color, too often lawmakers do not develop pragmatic solutions. Accordingly, pragmatic family law has had limited traction in dismantling structural inequity — at least thus far. In short, pragmatic family law is no panacea.


April 24, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 23, 2023

LGBTQ+ in Fiji

From the Guardian:

Despite the challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community due to a lack of marriage equality, Abdul Shaheed, programme manager at the Rainbow Pride Foundation in Suva, says the issue is not at the top of the agenda for the organisation.

“I think the general outlook is people are not pushing for marriage equality in Fiji, they are pushing for safety and security,” he says.

For instance, if they become the victim of a crime, Shaheed says members of the LGBTQ+ community “don’t feel the police or judiciary will help them get justice”.

“These are the more pertinent issues the community wants focused on rather than jumping the gun to marriage equality.”

The foundation says addressing high rates of violence against LGBTQ+ Fijians should remain the primary focus.

Statistics on the topic are hard to come by since the government does not collect them and, Shaheed notes, “a lot of the population would choose to not report cases, due to fear of discrimination and stigma”.

But for Lady Miki Charlemagne, a trans and queer activist from Fiji, ignoring marriage equality in favour of campaigning for safety is selective activism.

“For activists that think marriage equality is not an issue, take a moment to understand it’s important for the future … as opposed to siloing things to security and protection,” she says.

Read more here.

April 23, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Israeli Couples Marry Abroad

From Times of Israel:

[A] new report on religion and state, which says that about a third of all Israelis who choose to get married abroad in a civil ceremony are Jews who likely would have been allowed to tie the knot at home through the Rabbinate had they wanted to.


Thousands of couples have encountered religious matrimonial restrictions in Israel, where the only marriages performed locally that the state recognizes are religious unions between partners of the same faith conducted by an authorized cleric.

The government does, however, recognize civil marriages by Israelis conducted abroad, making such unions a popular workaround: More than 66,000 couples who were residents of Israel have gotten married abroad since 2001. More than half of them could not have gotten married in the country for various reasons, most commonly because at least one of them wasn’t recognized as Jewish by the Rabbinate.

Read more here.

April 22, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 21, 2023

Abortion Ruling

From NPR:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday blocked lower court decisions banning or limiting the FDA-approved use of the abortion pill mifepristone for the foreseeable future.

But the justices, for now, left the case in the hands of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has scheduled oral arguments in the case for May 17. However the 5th Circuit rules, the case will almost certainly end up back at the Supreme Court, with the potential for a decision in the case next term.

The court's action means that for now at least, the drug will be widely available, at least in those states where abortion is legal for up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy.

Read more here.

April 21, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

50% Fewer Bed Bath & Beyond Registry Requests

From Bloomberg:

While Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. executives insist the troubled retailer has a brighter future, many engaged couples have already issued their verdict: They don’t think the company will survive. 

Since January, several thousand couples have removed Bed Bath & Beyond items from their registries for upcoming weddings on Zola Inc., an online wedding services platform. That represents a decline of more than 50% versus registries for nuptials that were held last year.

Read more here.

April 21, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Divorce Announcements

From the Cut:

These days, this kind of statement is expected from celebrities going through a separation. But the Instagram divorce announcement has become so de rigueur that it is no longer limited to just celebrities. Influencers, business leaders, and even non-famous “normal” people have typed up statements on the Notes app to tell their followers about the end of their marriages. The tone of these statements varies, of course, but the sentiments are usually the same: The estranged couple is always moving forward with respect and love and, if there are children involved, committed to amicably co-parenting.

The trend started with Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “conscious uncoupling” in 2014 and has become even more prevalent with the rise of social media — Instagram, specifically. Now that celebrities can address fans directly on their own accounts, they are more likely to break divorce news themselves rather than leak it to the tabloids.

Read more here.

April 20, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Sex & the City Plot Line

From Miami Herald:

Sex with a client — and texts or old-fashioned written notes discussing them — has a Jacksonville divorce lawyer serving a 60-day suspension that started April 1.

Zisser Family Law’s Jonathan Zisser maintained a clean discipline record from his Florida Bar admission in November 2001 until January 2021. That’s when Zisser began representing a woman who was divorcing a Jacksonville area doctor. Attorney-client became representation-with-benefits.

Read more here.

April 19, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

"Just Divorced"

From Yahoo! UK:

A father-of-five has marked the end of his 23-year marriage by driving a 'Just Divorced' car around his hometown.

Angus Kennedy, 58, wanted to celebrate being single and to let people know that divorce "doesn't always have to be doom and gloom".

In honour of his "new start", the leading chocolate expert and sometime life coach, covered his Subaru with messages including "free as a bird" and "just divorced and lovin' it".

He drove the vehicle around Dartford, Kent, last week.

Read more here.

April 18, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 17, 2023

New Album Inspired by Divorce

From Today:

Kelly Clarkson's two new singles, "Mine" and "Me" might be about her divorce from Brandon Blackstock.

On Friday, April 14, Clarkson released the official lyric videos for the breakup songs, and they're both gaining a lot of traction on social media.

In "Me," Clarkson sings about having a broken heart and how she doesn't need someone to love her.

Read more here.

April 17, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Abortion Travel Up

From NPR:

When Mara Pliskin started working at Planned Parenthood Illinois, she didn't expect to feel like a travel agent.

Now, the abortion navigation program manager and her co-workers joke that that's half the job — booking flight, train and bus tickets for out-of-state abortion seekers, arranging hotel stays and giving them money for food and gas.

"We're being as creative as possible to really just work with every individual patient to resolve all those barriers that might stand in the way between making their decision and getting to our door," she said.

What Pliskin and her colleagues face isn't unusual.

Even before Roe v. Wade was overturned last June, almost 10% of patients seeking abortions traveled out of state. But since the Supreme Court's decision, providers in some so-called "sanctuary" states where abortion access is protected are seeing record high out-of-state demand.

In Colorado, preliminary numbers show more than twice as many people from other states came for an abortion in 2022 compared to 2021.

Read more here.

April 16, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)