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Family Law
University of Dayton School of Law
Howarth, Cooley R.

Family Law Outline
I.                    Introduction/Marriage
a.       Marriage is a legal status arising out of a contract or agreement between two people; a special legal relationship which may be created by the agreement of the two people but which is only recognized as a valid marriage when it meets certain requirements defined by the state.
II.                 Insuring the Validity of Marriage
a.       Marriage is either
                                                               i.      Valid
1.      Presumptions
a.       All states: given any evidence of a marriage will presume the marriage is valid until declared to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction. 
                                                             ii.      Invalid.
1.      Void
a.       Never existed in the eyes of the law
b.      Challenged by anyone; third parties, heirs, state, etc.
c.       Can be attacked at anytime, even if the parties are dead
d.      Required to judicial action to become invalid
e.       These marriages are incurable; no defenses to a finding of voidness
f.        Proof, when needed can be established through
                                                                                                                                       i.      Direct suit for annulment
                                                                                                                                     ii.      Collateral suit attacking will, death benefits, etc.
2.      Voidable
a.       Marriage does exist factually and legally
b.      Can be terminated through court due to impediment
c.       Can only be attacked by one of the two parties to the marriage
                                                                                                                                       i.      Through direct action of annulment (declaration of invalidity)
                                                                                                                                     ii.      During the lifetime of both parties or another statutory time
d.      Curable: Affirmative defenses can be raised
                                                                                                                                       i.      Presumption: marraige is deemed valid until successfully proved invalid by one of the parties. 
e.       Knowledge of the impediment
                                                                                                                                       i.      If neither party new of the impediment, when it is cured the marriage is valid
                                                                                                                                     ii.      If both parties knew of the impediment, the marriage is invalid
b.      Three Requirements (capacity, consent and formalities)
                                                               i.      Formalities of Celebration
1.      Statutory Requirements (know the void or voidable of each statutory requirement)
a.       Licensure – State permission to marry
                                                                                                                                       i.      Licensing
                                                                                                                                     ii.      Waiting Period
b.      Soleminization – act of getting married
                                                                                                                                       i.      Ceremony & registration
1.      Minority hold a violation of proper ceremony as invalid
a.       Smaller minority hold the invalid marriages as void
b.      Majority holds the marriage voidable
                                                                                                                                     ii.      Proxy Marriage
                                                                                                                                    iii.      Violation of formalities
2.      Common law Marriage
a.       Carries all of the same rights and duties and ceremonial marriage
b.      Traditional Three Elements

              v.      This is last resort-only after failure to prove common law marriage
4.      Presumptions
a.       If a ceremony is had the presumption is that a valid marriage exists
b.      If it is simply common law, the presumption is against a valid marriage
                                                             ii.      Substantive Requirements
1.      Capacity
a.       Opposite Sex
                                                                                                                                       i.      No state allows a same sex marriage. Federal definition of marriage includes a man and a woman. (if one state ever should recognize it-no other state has to)
                                                                                                                                     ii.      Reciprocal Benefits Laws
                                                                                                                                    iii.      Issues
1.      Fundamental rights
2.      Right to privacy
3.      Equal protection
                                                                                                                                   iv.      Vermont – Civil Union
1.      Same sex couples only
2.      Not a marriage, just a public declaration
3.      Court of general jurisdiction, not domestic relations
4.      Disallusion looks like divorce but isn’t
5.      Legislature created this – amended all necessary statutes to include civil unions
b.      Age
                                                                                                                                       i.      Underage marriage is void
1.      But don’t trust labels