At its annual meeting in July, the Uniform Law Commission will take up proposed amendments to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), designed to assist the United States in implementation of the 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children. The Annual Meeting Draft is available now from the ULC web site.
Families Across Borders | law, policy, news and views
With a unanimous vote today in the upper house of the Diet, Japan’s parliament has agreed to ratification of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. News outlets reporting the developments in Japan include the BBC, Wall Street Journal, Japan Times, Japan Daily Press, and the Christian Science Monitor. Blog posts include this one from the Daily Beast.
With several posts today, we’re catching up on news from the past few months. I had a very interesting spring semester living and working in the U.K., as Director of the London Law Consortium, a study abroad program for US law students. Keeping up with the blog fell by the wayside, however, when I broke my right arm just after arriving in London. The biggest news story of my year came a week after I returned, when our daughter was married on a beautiful spring morning. Here’s a look at our newly-expanded family! – Ann Estin
In recent weeks, both Uruguay and Brazil have moved toward joining Argentina and Mexico and other nations in which same-sex marriage is possible. Uruguay enacted legislation in April; see Zack Ford, Uruguay Becomes 12th Country to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage (Think Progress, April 11, 2013). In Brazil, a ruling in May (which can still be appealed) held that notaries cannot refuse to perform same-sex marriages. See Simon Romero, Brazilian Court Council Removes a Barrier to Same-Sex Marriage (NY Times May 14, 2013). For commentary on this trend, see Hector Carrillo, How Latin Culture Got More Gay (NY Times May 16, 2013).
The Office of the Head of International Family Justice for England and Wales has released its Annual Report for 2012. Since its establishment in 2005, the Office, headed by the Right Honorable Lord Justice Mathew Thorpe:
has functioned as a centre of expertise and helpdesk for general enquiries in the field of international family law for the judiciary and practitioners in this jurisdiction and overseas. Its main role is to support and facilitate cross-border judicial collaboration and direct judicial communication and to enhance the expertise necessary for handling the large numbers of cases relating to aspects of private international law.
In 2012, the Office fielded 253 requests for assistance, primarily from judges (28%), academics (23%), and practicing barristers and solicitors (33%).
See also Rapid Rise in Global Family Disputes (BBC May 1, 2013)
The French Parliament approved legislation to allow same-sex marriage on April 23, 2013. See Scott Sayare, Amid Much Tumult, France Approves ‘Marriage for All’ (NY Times April 2013).
As expected, the legislation was challenged in the French Conseil Constitutionnel, but that challenge was rejected on May 17, and President François Hollande signed the legislation into law on May 18. The first marriages under the new law are expected by the end of May. See Steven Erlanger, Hollande Signs French Gay Marriage Law (NY Times May 18, 2013).
See also the post by Gilles Cuniberti, discussing the ruling of the Conseil Constitutionnel, on ConflictofLaws.net.
The US Supreme Court decided its second case under the Hague Child Abduction Convention on February 19, with its ruling in Chafin v. Chafin 568 U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 1017 (2013). The case resolved a split among the circuits of the federal Court of Appeals, but the Court had an easy time deciding the central issue, ruling unanimously that the return of a child under the Convention does not moot an appeal of the trial court’s return order, as long as there is something at stake for the party seeking to appeal. The slip opinion from the Supreme Court is here; coverage in the SCOTUS blog is here.
Lots of news this Spring from the Hague Conference., which announced in March that Cristophe Bernasconi will be the new Secretary General when Hans Van Loon retires at the end of June. The year began with news that Queen Elizabeth II was honoring William Duncan, who stepped down as Deputy Secretary General in 2012, with an appointment to the Order of St. Michael and St. George, for his work in international law, particularly international child protection.
As of January 1, 2013, the 2007 Family Maintenance Convention has entered into force, and is now in effect between Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Norway. Swaziland joined the Hague Adoption Convention in March, bringing the total number of contracting states to 90.
The US State Department has released its Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption for Fiscal Year 2012, showing that visas were issued for a total of 8668 children, down from a total of 9,319 for FY 2011. The most frequently represented countries of origin are China (2,967 children), Ethiopia (1,568), Russia (748), South Korea (627), Ukraine (395), Congo (240), Uganda (238), Nigeria (197), Colombia (195) and Taiwan (177). The report also indicated that there were 99 outgoing intercountry adoptions during the same period. See also Rachel Swarns, American Adoptions From Abroad at Their Lowest Level in Years (NY Times Jan. 24, 2013).
Also this month, President Obama signed S.3331, the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012, which will take effect on July 14, 2014. Here is the announcement from the State Department, and here is the text of the legislation.
Legislation to extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples is on the political agenda in both France and the UK for 2013. See Harvey Morris, Gay Marriage Fight Intensifies in Britain and France, International Herald Tribune/NY Times, Dec. 12, 2012.
In Britain, this would add an option in addition to civil partnerships, which became possible under legislation enacted in 2004. The latest debates have focused on how the legalization would affect the Church of England. See Sam Jones, Church of England and Church in Wales protest at gay marriage ban, The Guardian 13 Dec. 2012, and Government’s gay marriage plan a mess, says Labour, The Guardian 14 Dec. 2012; Owen Bowcott and Rajeev Syal, David Cameron faces Tory Revolt over vote on same-sex weddings, The Guardian 7 December 2012. See also John F. Burns, British Plan for Gay Marriage Would Exclude Anglican Church, NY Times, Dec. 12, 2012.
In France, same-sex marriage would join le PACS, or pacte civil de solidarité (civil solidarity pact), the contract-based regime that has been available for same-sex and opposite-sex couples since legislation in 1999. See Angelique Chrisafis, François Hollande under fire as gay marriage bill divides France, The Guardian 14 Dec. 2012; Maia de la Baume and Steven Erlanger, French Cabinet Advances Gay Marriage Bill Despite Conservatives’ Opposition, NY Times Nov. 8, 2011.