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Family Law
Santa Clara University School of Law
Carbone, June R.


A. Introduction
B. Marital Property
1. Ownership and control of wealth
a. Common Law
(PROBLEM p.13)
Murdoch v. Murdoch:
b. Estate by the Entirety
c. Community Property
d. Uniform marital Property Act
2. Other property
Boggs v. Boggs
3. Daily management and control of marital wealth
McGuire v. McGuire: courts didn’t want to get involved in this case b/c it was concerning the family

a. Sharpe Furniture, Inc. v. Buckstaff: Mrs. Buckstaffe bought a sofa from furniture store for $621.50 to be paid in 60 days, and an interest rate of 1.5% would be charged after 60 days; Mr. Buckstaffe advised the credit bureau that he would not be responsible for any credit extended to his wife; sofa went unpaid for; Mr. Buckstaffe earned a substantial living and always provided Mrs. Buckstaffe with the necessities of life. Court held that 3P creditor only need to show that item was “reasonably necessary” and that under doctrine of necessaries husband has duty to pay. Sofa was getting continuous use and their socio-economic status made it suitable and proper. Courts would get involved here b/c case concerned the rights of 3P creditors she is his agent in purchases
–court holds doctrine of necessaries is viable: husband is obligated to support his wife and nothing but wrongful conduct on her part can free him from his obligation. (obligation comes from the virtue of the legal duty of marriage…necessaries=food, apparel, medicine, means of locomotion, provided habitation, furniture, or such provision for her protection in society)
Purpose: 3P creditor c/a; sustain family unit; keep family bonded
–if he fails to pay, the third party creditors can recover from husband (he can’t dispose of all debt through his wife)
–support and sustenance of the family unit and individual members thereof
–stay together and create strong family nucleus
b. Borelli v. Brusseau: husband orally promised his wife several forms of property for she and her daughter if wife promised to take care of him after a stroke in lieu of sending him to a rest home. She followed through with her promise and he only left her $100,000 and his interest in their residents which they owned as joint tenants, the bulk of the estate went to the daughter. If court were to involve itself here where there was an oral contract between the parties, then the courts would experience too heavy of a burden. Again, the court does not want to decide on things that could be worked out between the parties themselves. Court held that wife already had the statutory duty of caring for her ill husband without remuneration. Thus, enforcement of a contract providing what she already owed would be void against public policy (cannot delegate a pre-existing duty!).
C. Unmarried Fathers
1. Child Support, inheritance, and public benefits
Pamela P. v. Frank S.: gf told bf that she was on birth control, she was not and he refused to pay child support once the child was born; court held that child’s right to child support trumps any violation of constitutional rights between the parents (i.e. mom’s misrepresentation violated man’s constitutional right); negating child support violates public policy; child cannot become a public charge to the state
D. Tort: violence and interspousal immunity
1. Violence between spouses
People v. Liberta: Husband began to beat wife shortly after the birth of their child. Wife sought court protection from her husband, to move out and go away with visitation rights once a weekend. Husband threatened to kill the wife and forced the son to watch the wife perform sexual acts. Wife went to hospital. Husband charged with rape. Court held on Equal Protection grounds that NY marital exception was unconstitutional (NY had a law that said no rape can be brought between married couples).
NY law justifications that were found to be invalid:
*marriage needs protection from governmental intrusion
*exemption might lead to reconciliation
*women’s consent is unequivocally given during marriage (woman property of her husband)
*rape difficult crime to prove
*marital rape is not as serious as other rape

3. Spousal Tort Liability: Interspousal Immunity Doctrine?
Burns v. Burns: (MS- 1988)court did away with interspousal immunity doctrine
-every person has the right under the law to redress for personal injury
-single women are allowed redress, married women as well
-the desired state of matrimonial tranquility is necessarily destroyed by the act of the offending spouse, not the lawsuit filed thereafter

Hill v. Hill
-need interspousal immunity to protect family unit as a whole, courts don’t want to be involved
-consistent with McGuire b/c court relying on the principle of family privacy to explain refusal to order a husband to provide his wife with a certain measure of financial support

Violence Against Women Act of 1994:

enacted to allow criminal remedies for victims; courts willing to intervene in this case not only through family law but also through tort law: (FL- 1982) Rejected a change to interspousal tort liability doctrine

2. Historical and Social Background4. Contract and non-contract

II. Unmarried Cohabitants

A. Marriage and its Alternatives
Hewitt v. Hewitt: (Illinois) Parties living together for 15 years and held themselves out as husband and wife. The two never married, but wife took husband’s last name, had a house together, and combined their assets. They didn’t have a marriage license for legal purposes. Held that there was a common law marriage b/c the couple here intended to be married. If there was a contract here, it was an express oral contract. Duties were that of husband and wife, and the husband had told the wife he would stay with her forever and share his life, earnings and property. Conduct of the parties an implied contract. Meretricious relationship. HOWEVER, in Illinois there was no common law marriage at the time and so they were ruled to not be married—would have contravened public policy by discouraging couples from getting married by allowing them to skip the paperwork and still receive the benefits of marriage.
B. The Rights and Duties in Relation to Third Parties
Braschi v. Stahl Associates Company: Court willing to recognize relationships that aren’t sanctioned. Gay guys living together, one dies, b/c NY apartment complex wanted him out they try to force the second gay guy out b/c only protection from eviction to “surviving

r effort (as does any other unmarried person). Implied in fact contracts- based on the conduct of the parties may take place of the express agreements.
Hewitt v. Hewitt
Connell v. Francisco: woman was a dancer in stage show produced by the man; man’s net worth was $1.3M in 1984; the two cohabited in man’s home from 1983 until 1986; woman worked as a paid dancer during that time and assisted man in his various enterprises; woman then moved to Washington to manage B&B (owned by the man); man moved there soon after; people in the community viewed the two as married; woman used his last name and gave her an engagement ring; for 4 years woman consistently worked at and managed the B&B; forst 2 years she received no compensation, when they separated in 1990 man’s net worth was $3M and woman’s net worth had remained relatively low.
Overturned Creasman Presumption (property in meretricious relationship went to the person in whom title was vested). This court ruled that all property acquired during the relationship was subject to equitable distribution (rebuttable presumption that property acquired during relationship is owned by both of the parties and is therefore deserving of a just and equitable distribution).
Meretricious relationship

One must have gone through a marriage ceremony and have good faith belief that the first marriage was no longer in existence. Some states do not have a strong policy against common law marriage. They are therefore willing to treat their domiciliaries as having entered into common law marriage in another state even when the parties’ contact with that state was just a short visit.: (conflicts with the holding of Winegard); this court found no common law marriage b/c the claimant failed to prove that the parties exchanged words in the present tense expressing their intent to be marriedà
(1) evaluate interest each party has in the property acquired during the relationship
(2) just and equitable distribution of the property

materials: Intense on and off again with a mistress; mistress divorces her husband; husband had promised to support mistress and would divorce his wife; husband refused to divorce his wife; husband dies intestate and woman claimed that she should be viewed as beneficiary to his estate. Personal nature of the relationships and desire to maintain privacy, contracts of these sorts may be oral in nature. Giving up a certain way of life by choosing to enter in this way of life can be consideration. Complete dependency is not necessary- some level of dependence seems to be required.