Family Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Hard Lessons For Lawyers in Cosby Case; Tougher For Victims

From Associated Press:

Pennsylvania’s highest court ruled that a district attorney had induced Cosby to give incriminating testimony in 2005 for a lawsuit, with the promise that no criminal charges would be filed. Then, a decade later, another prosecutor used it against him — a fundamental violation of his Fifth Amendment rights. “America’s Dad” walked out of prison Wednesday and won’t face any further trials in the case.

[C]riminal law experts believe the court acted reasonably in finding that a prosecutor’s word should be honored, even by a successor. One called the ruling a wakeup call for prosecutors who might try to quietly resolve a case without a paper trail, or make a deal over a handshake.

More deeply, [Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson, a former prosecutor] said, the case illustrates the need for legal agreements that are “open, fair and transparent.”

“For survivors of sexual assault, it’s got to be another incredibly upsetting, frustrating moment,” she said. “So (there are) good lessons for prosecutors and hard lessons for survivors.”

Read more here.

July 8, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Did More Couples Really Split Up Last Year?

From Psychology Today:

According to COVID-related anecdotal notes published by news outlets, with commentators ranging from proclaimed pundits like divorce attorneys to couples explaining their hardships themselves, the breakup rate would seem to be up. 

According to a new study based on demographic information in five U.S. states, divorce rates have actually plummeted during the pandemic, falling below the projected divorce rates based on previous years’ data.

If this holds true, how did the “quarantine breakup” perceived phenomenon come about? The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon could be at play; a psychological effect that occurs when what we pay attention to (known as “selective attention”) and our natural tendency to look for information that confirms our already-existing beliefs (known as “confirmation bias”) combine.

Read more here

July 7, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Federal Judge Blocks Indiana ‘Abortion Reversal’ Law

From Associated Press:

A federal judge on Wednesday [June 30] blocked an Indiana law that would require doctors to tell women undergoing drug-induced abortions about a disputed treatment for potentially stopping the abortion process.

The ruling came just before the so-called abortion reversal law adopted by Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature was to take effect Thursday [July 1]. The temporary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge James Patrick Hanlon in Indianapolis puts the law on hold while the lawsuit challenging it makes its way through court.

Abortion-rights groups that filed the lawsuit argued that the law’s requirement would confuse patients and increase the stigma associated with obtaining an abortion, while also forcing doctors to provide what they regard as dubious medical information. Medical groups maintain the abortion pill “reversal” process is not supported by science and that there is little information about its safety.

Republican legislators argued the requirement would ensure that a woman had information about halting a medication-induced abortion if she changes her mind. 

Six states — Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Dakota and Utah — have similar requirements in place, while laws in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee have been blocked by legal challenges, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

Read more here

July 6, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 5, 2021

How the Pandemic Roiled the Foster Care System

From Scientific American:

Among the unseen victims of COVID-19’s ravages are the legions of foster children for whom basic services and support were for months suspended. Financial, emotional, educational, social and even some basic housing issues were pushed aside; the foster care system itself was overwhelmed by virus-related court closures and delays. Mental health care, so critical for young foster children, was confined often to calls or Zoom meetings.

Chicago saw a 33 percent increase in the number of children entering foster care. States like CaliforniaKansas and Florida meanwhile, noted decreases in reports of child abuse—a chilling reminder of what can happen when watchful eyes no longer are present. A CDC report also noted fewer child abuse-related emergency department visits during the pandemic. “It’s not that it is happening less,” says Moisés Barón, CEO of the San Diego Center for Children. “It’s just that there are fewer mandated reporters interacting with the youth.”

In a John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) study of about 600 people aged 18–24 who were either in foster care or had experienced homelessness, four out of five said COVID had a major impact on their mental health and wellness, while 27 percent reported feeling “down, depressed or hopeless” nearly daily since the pandemic began. A CDC report last November, meanwhile, noted a 24 percent increase in mental health-related emergencies for children ages five to 11, and a 31 percent increase among youth of ages 12 to 17.

Read more here

July 5, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Professional International Collaboration

From Family Law:

Scores of family mediators from the UK, USA and Ukraine joined an innovative online free training event in mid-June, which National Family Mediation was proud to co-host along with international partners.

The attendees were able to generate discussions and networking between practitioners about a range of issues, including children's involvement in family mediation. 

International collaboration and sharing of best practice has become simpler to achieve.

Read more here.

July 4, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 3, 2021

California: Stop Collecting Child Support From Some Debtors

From California News Times:

California legislators have pushed forward with a budget to stop collecting child support from some parents receiving cash aid, but the proposed solution was to remove those debtors in January.

The state council budget is a debt to the government (to the family) for parents who are the only source of income from supplementary security income or state supplementary payments, cash aid programs for immigrants, and SSI / combinations. 

According to federal data, California maintains a very high portion of child support payments. This is more than 3.5 times the national average. It has a knock-on effect on parents responsible for their debt: they struggle to get and maintain a job, their driver’s license can be revoked, and children and non-custodial parents are more I will receive less.

Read more here.

July 3, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 2, 2021

Pennsylvania: Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network

From Governor Tom Wolf:

Department of Human Services (DHS) recognized Pennsylvania families, individuals and organizations who help children and youth achieve permanent homes through the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN), administered by the department’s Office of Children, Youth and Families.

SWAN matches children in need of adoption with potential families and brings together state, county, and private agencies to coordinate permanency-related services for children and post-permanency services to families.

Earlier this month, DHS organized the 2021 Annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference. The annual conference is attended by child welfare professionals, current and prospective foster or adoptive families, kinship care providers, and others with a vested interest in ensuring children have safe, permanent and loving homes.

Read more here.

July 2, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Advancing LGBTQ+ Rights

From The Regulatory Review:

Mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion CLE may be a potential external, systemic strategy for ameliorating anti-LGBTQ+ bias in the profession. More concretely, diversity, equity, and inclusion training may assist legal organizations in reevaluating processes surrounding recruitment, hiring, promotion, retention, and benefits programs to expose implicit or explicit barriers for LGBTQ+ attorneys and staff. 

Anti-LGBTQ+ bias within the legal profession may spill over into disputes over substantive legal questions. Transgender and gender nonconforming litigants also report mistreatment by legal aid attorneys, courts, and judges.

In 2016, the American Bar Association amended its model rule of professional conduct that explicitly bars lawyers in any conduct related to the practice of law from discriminating individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Read more here.

July 1, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Pakistan Minority Delegation Demands Drafting of Rules for Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act

From Deccan Herald:

A delegation comprising members of Pakistan’s minority communities on Monday urged the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in northwest Pakistan to expedite the drafting of rules for the Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act.

The federal government approved the Hindu Marriage Bill in March 2017 and issued necessary instructions to them to draft the required rules.

However, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is yet to draft the necessary rules for the Act. Due to a lack of constitutional protection, many Hindu girls are deprived of their basic rights, which they are entitled to in case of divorce.

Read more here.

June 30, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Palestinian Family Reunification Law

From The Times of Israel:

Legislation extending a law barring Palestinian family reunification was again pulled from the agenda at a Knesset committee meeting on Sunday, due to an ongoing dispute that threatens its passage.

The provision, which has been renewed annually since 2003, blocks the automatic granting of citizenship to Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens. The current legislation expires on July 6.

Members of the opposition originally intended to boycott the proceedings of the committee, claiming it was unfair to hold them on the 17th of Tammuz, a Jewish fast day. The lawmakers ended up attending, as they were informed that a vote on the reunification law would be held, and were then furious when it was pulled from the day’s agenda.

Read more here.

June 29, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 28, 2021

California: Gender-Neutral Terms

From East Bay Times:

Sprinkled throughout the state code were references to “he” and “him” and “his” when referring to the attorney general and other statewide elected officials, even though Vice President Kamala Harris had been the state’s first female attorney general and Eleni Kounalakis is the first woman elected as lieutenant governor. That will likely change after the state Legislature passed Bauer-Kahan’s bill Thursday to update laws governing statewide elected officials with gender-neutral terms. The bill now heads to Newsom, a Democrat, for his review.

In recent years, California has passed laws allowing a third gender option on state driver’s licenses, identification cards and birth certificates. Also Thursday, the Legislature approved a bill to allow people’s gender to be recorded as nonbinary on death certificates, a major source of data for public health research.

Bauer-Kahan’s bill is an attempt to speed up that process. In 2019, the Legislature updated family law to include gender-neutral terms.

Read more here.


June 28, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Hungary Adopts Child Sex Abuse Law That Also Targets L.G.B.T. Community

From The New York Times:

Hungary’s Parliament voted on Tuesday to adopt legislation that would increase sentences for sex crimes against children, but critics say the law is being used to target the country’s L.G.B.T. community ahead of crunch elections for Prime Minister Viktor Orban next year.

Last-minute changes to the bill, which was prompted by public outrage after a series of sex scandals involving governing party and government officials, included restrictions against showing or “popularizing” homosexuality and content that promotes a gender that diverges from the one assigned at birth.

The new rules, unexpectedly added to the bill by government-aligned lawmakers last week, require the labeling of all content that might fall into that category of “not recommended for those under 18 years of age.” Such content would be restricted for media like television to the hours between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The restrictions extend to advertisements and even sexual education, which the law would restrict to teachers and organizations approved by the government. The bill would also create a public database of sex offenders.

Read more here. 


June 27, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 26, 2021

When It Comes To Heated Divorce, Pets Aren’t People Too

From Associated Press News:

In the eyes of the law, pets are property when it comes to divorce, but new ways of working out custody of the dog, cat or parrot have sprung up with special mediators and “petnups” to avoid courtroom disputes.

Alaska, California and Illinois are among states that have enacted laws giving judges leeway to consider the best interests of pets, not unlike what they do for children. A bill is pending in New York state to take the same approach.

Some judges around the country have been taking the approach on a case-by-case basis . . . . But couples are left to the whims of whichever judges they’re assigned should they choose to go to trial.

In states that haven’t taken the new approach, [Adam] Citron [a New York divorce lawyer] suggests agreeing at the time a pet is acquired during a marriage whose name will appear alone on registration or adoption papers. That person should pay any costs out of a separate bank account. Such measures are especially helpful if one party is trying to weaponize a pet in exchange for other coveted property.

Read more here

June 26, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 25, 2021

UK Set To End Legal Loophole Allowing Child Marriage

From Reuters:

Britain must scrap a legal loophole allowing child marriage “by the back door”, lawmakers said ahead of the introduction of a bill in parliament on Wednesday to raise the minimum age to 18. They said the current law, which allows marriage at 16 with parental consent, sabotaged girls’ futures and condoned child abuse.

The loophole also undermines Britain’s global efforts to end child marriage in other countries, campaign groups said. Britain set 16 as the minimum age in 1929 when living together out of wedlock was socially unacceptable. But campaigners say most girls who marry under 18 nowadays are pressured into it by their families, and that raising the minimum age would empower them to say no.

More than 2,740 under-18s were married in England and Wales between 2008 and 2017, according to official data, but this figure excludes minors wed in traditional ceremonies or taken abroad to marry.

Read more here

June 25, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 24, 2021

25 Corporations Marking 'Pride' Donated Over $10m To Anti-LGBTQ+ Politicians – Study

From The Guardian:

June is Pride month, and many US corporations are advertising their support for the LGBTQ+ community. A new study, however, has found that 25 companies otherwise eager to wave the rainbow flag have donated more than $10m to anti-LGBTQ+ federal and state politicians over the past two years.

The study, released on Monday by the Popular Information newsletter, found that alongside pronouncements of LGBTQ+ support, corporations including CVS, AT&T, Walmart and Comcast have supported candidates who seek to block or otherwise restrict equal rights based on gender or sexual orientation.

Many of the corporations have 100% ratings on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) 2020 Corporate Equality Index, which measures workplace policies and “public commitment to the LGBTQ community”. The index does not take political donations into account.

Read more here

June 24, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Top Tips For Divorcing Parents From A Child Of Divorce (Who Is Also A Divorce Attorney)

From JD Supra:

Having both parents play an active role in children’s daily lives is the best way to ensure that your kids’ needs are met, and it enables them to retain close relationships with both parents. The quality of the relationship between co-parents can also have a strong influence on the mental and emotional well-being of children, and the incidence of anxiety and depression. In fact, studies show that conflict is the main driver of emotional distress to children of divorce. Of course, putting aside relationship issues, especially after an acrimonious split, to co-parent agreeably is sometimes easier said than done.

Joint custody arrangements can be exhausting, infuriating, and fraught with stress, especially if you have a contentious relationship with your ex-partner or if you have historically been the primary parent. You may feel concerned about your ex’s parenting abilities, stressed out about child support or other financial issues, or just struggling to overcome all the resentments in your relationship. My hope is that the following tips will help you in your journey to re-defining your family and raising your child(ren) in two households.

Tip 1: Change your view of your relationship with your ex. Your marriage may be over, but your family is not; acting in your kids’ best interest is your most important priority.

Read more and find all 6 tips here

June 23, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Supreme Court Rules Catholic Group Doesn't Have To Consider LGBTQ Foster Parents

From NPR:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sided with Catholic Social Services in a battle that pitted religious freedom against anti-discrimination laws in Philadelphia and across the country. The court declared that the private Catholic agency was entitled to renewal of its contract with the city for screening foster parents, even though the agency violated city law by refusing to consider married LGBTQ couples.

At issue was a decision by the city of Philadelphia to end its contract with Catholic Social Services for screening potential foster care parents. CSS challenged the termination in court, citing its religious belief that same-sex marriage is wrong, and maintaining that ending the contract violated its First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.

The court agreed unanimously that the city violated the Catholic groups' rights. But the justices divided 6-to-3 on the reasoning with the majority limiting the reach of its decision.

Read more here

June 22, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 21, 2021

Conference on Zoom Wednesday

Pandemic Effects on Legal Academia
A discussion with law school faculty
Wednesday, June 23
11:00 a.m. - 2:00 pm, PDT, Register here »
The session will begin with a presentation by professor Meera E. Deo on her new national empirical study of law faculty, Pandemic Effects on Legal Academia (PELA) followed by a panel of deans responding with their own personal and institutional experiences. Participants will then have the opportunity to break out into working groups organized around specific topics to brainstorm challenges and potential solutions to the obstacles presented by the earlier presentations.
Preliminary analyses of the PELA study reveal troubling patterns of how the effects of COVID-19 exacerbate previously existing raceXgender barriers documented in Southwestern Law School Professor Meera Deo’s book, Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia. Challenges—which are felt most acutely by mothers and other caregivers, junior scholars, untenured faculty, and women of color—include a lack of time and bandwidth to produce scholarship, the blending of home life with work life, an inability to prioritize one’s own well-being, and significant negative mental health effects. This session provides an opportunity for faculty to learn from the data and brainstorm solutions.

June 21, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Conference on Zoom Tomorrow


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June 21, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Barred From Her Own Home: How a Tool for Fighting Domestic Abuse Fails

From The New York Times:

Shamika Crawford was left homeless and separated from her children by an order of protection that was later dismissed. Lawyers say cases like hers are common. ... Situations like Ms. Crawford’s, say public defenders in New York City and some domestic-violence experts, are an everyday occurrence in a corner of the justice system where defendants are effectively presumed guilty rather than innocent.

June 21, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)