Spotlight: Professor Lisa Young, Australian Family Law Scholar

By: Danielle Edrich

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Lisa Young, an Australian family law professor, and talk about some of the differences in family law between the United States and Australia. Young has focused her career in family law as a practitioner, professor, and researcher for more than 20 years, and is currently Dean of Research as well as an Associate Professor at Murdoch University School of Law in Western Australia. She is also the current editor of the Australian Journal of Family Law, Australia’s premier family law journal, and is co-author of Family Law in Australia, one of Australia’s principal family law treatises. Young also has been working with the Commonwealth’s Child Support Agency for 16 years, where she routinely hears and decides cases. Before getting into academia, Young was a commercial and family law practitioner. She mentioned that although she ultimately ended up in academia, practicing law was a valuable experience that gave her a “real-world” understanding of the law.

As Dean of Research at Murdoch, Young has been speaking with law schools throughout the world to gain an understanding of what programs and ideas their students are interested in pursuing so that she can further develop a thriving program for her students in Australia. She is also interested in looking for connections her school can build with other law schools. Furthermore, as Young is a family law scholar, she was very interested in learning about family law in the United States and how it compared to Australian law.… <Read More>

7 Billion People and “One Child” Policy Revisited


On October 31, 2011, our planet will have reached a population milestone; seven billion people will be competing for resources. Issues obviously arise when population growth is predicted to outpace our planet’s ability to sustain it. These issues are not new either; some may remember having read the gloomy predictions by Malthus in his Essay on the Principle of Population. Though it was written in the 18th and revised through the early 19th century before issues of peak oil use, water conservation, land use, and pollution became prevalent, Malthus nevertheless recognized that unchecked population growth leads to periods of severe societal distress.

Most modern and modernizing countries have taken affirmative steps to curtail rampant population growth through teaching proper use of contraceptives and other pregnancy prevention measures. India, with a current population closer to 1.2 billion individuals is set to eclipse China as the world’s most populous country within the next half century. As indicated in this CNN article, Indian officials go so far as to offer economic rewards to those who subject themselves to sterilization. While such measures may be questioned by some, they are defended as being totally voluntary. Still other countries have used far more draconian measures to slow population growth. The primary and often criticized case is China and its contentious “One Child” policy. Is this policy more attractive as a desperate measure to curtail population booms, especially in Asia where more than one-third of the seven billion people live? I argue that it is not, as its effects on the population and the socio-economic imbalances it has created will prove to be detrimental to China’s social and economic development in the long run.… <Read More>

Foreign affluent families choose NYC public schools week, the New York Times revealed that many affluent foreign families who move to New York are choosing to send their children to public elementary schools in New York City rather than private elementary schools.  Typically, affluent New York families send their children to private elementary schools.  The Times reports that “a large majority of wealthy foreign-born New Yorkers are sending their children to public schools, according to an analysis of census data.”  The data shows that out of the 15,500 households in the city with elementary school-age children that have an income of at least $150,000 and both parents born abroad, 68% of those families send their children only to New York City public schools.

Shockingly, households with American-born parents who have an income of at least $150,000 send their children to public schools at only half the rate of foreign-born families in the same income bracket.  The foreign-born parents claim that the reason they send their children to public schools is because it imitates real life, and that diversity is lacking in the private schools.  Of course, these families are living in affluent NYC neighborhoods, but still choose to send their children to public school.  As a result of this influx of foreign households sending children to NYC public schools, some public elementary schools in wealthier parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn are experiencing an unexpected increase in foreign-born students, especially Western Europeans.

“In interviews, affluent foreign-born New Yorkers said that like all conscientious parents, they weighed various criteria in choosing schools, including quality, cost and location.… <Read More>

Returning Home For a Better Life or Parental Kidnapping?


Parental kidnapping has been an issue many people across the country and the world have had to face. Iraq veteran and New Jersey resident Michael Elias alleges that he has experienced it firsthand.  Elias, who returned home from Iraq three years ago, alleges that upon his return, his former wife told him she wanted a divorce. However, if only Elias could foresee what was to come—an international custody battle with his former wife, who is now living with their two children approximately 7,000 miles away in Japan.

Upon divorce, Elias and his former wife were granted joint custody by a Bergen County Court. In order to prevent either parent from taking the children out of the country, the Court directed that the children’s passports be surrendered. With the children’s passports surrendered and a court order of joint custody, Elias thought he had nothing to worry about. 

However, during a routine exchange of the children a few months later, Elias waited for his children to be dropped off for his parenting time. What he didn’t know what that he former wife and their two children were on a plane to Japan, violating the custody order. Since Elias’s former wife worked at the Japanese Embassy, she was able to get new passports for the children. How did she obtain new passports for the children legally and now that she is in Japan with the children, does it really even matter?

Japan is not a party to the Hague Convention on Parental Kidnapping, so what is Elias supposed to do?… <Read More>

Modernization means stricter International Adoption Laws in South Korea

For years, South Korea has been a central contributor of adopted children for families seeking to grow and provide a loving home them. But as a result of strong domestic criticism, South Korea’s current adoption regime is going to be subject to a massive overhaul, as reported to the world by Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, a writer for Foreign Policy in Focus in this recent article .

Kim Dong-won, the overseer of adoption for South Korea’s Ministry of Health, told the world in a New York Times interview in 2008 that South Korea has become a fully modernized country, and that its own adoption policies lagged behind its economic development. It was his belief that “South Korea is the world’s 12th largest economy and is now almost an advanced country, so we would like to rid ourselves of the international stigma or disgrace of being a baby-exporting country…It’s embarrassing.”

The proposed South Korean law will place much stricter requirements on both ends of the adoption. Adoptive parents will have to pass a more stringent screening process such as criminal background checks, and the birth parents of the child to be placed for adoption (mostly unwed single mothers) will be further deterred from signing illegal consent papers for children still in the womb. The law would also add court participation in the adoption proceedings, and more formal documentation of the process as a whole. It should also be noted that this bill is the direct result of lobbying by groups such as Adoptee Solidarity Korea, and Korean Unwed Mothers and Families Association.… <Read More>