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Family Law
University of Minnesota Law School
Younger, Judith T.

1)      Courtship and Marriage
a)      Courtship Patterns
b)      The Marriage Contract
i)        Maynard v. Hillà traditional view of marriage as a social relation imprinted over an iron-clad contract.
(1)    Rule- although marriage is, is a sense, a contract, it is one which the parties cannot change.
c)       Premarital Controversies
i)        Breach of Promise to MarryàRivkin v. Postal
(1)    Facts- after a non-marital affair ended, the man sued the woman, and she counterclaimed for his alleged breach of a promise to marry her.
(2)    Rule (Minority view)- A quitclaim deed to a house and the testimony of two creditors do not establish a promise to marry under TN law.
(a)    Proof of Promise to Marry- (1) either written evidence of a contract signed by the other party, or (2) testimony of 2 disinterested witnesses.
(b)   Majority view- no breach of promise to marry.
ii)      Gifts in Contemplation of MarriageàFowler v. Perry
(1)    Facts- suit to recover the value of an engagement ring after the expected marriage did not occur.
(2)    Rule (Minority/Modern view)- the person who purchased an engagement ring in contemplation of marriage is entitled to a return of the ring or to recover the monetary value of the ring if the contemplated marriage does not occur.
(a)    Majority view- if a ring is given in contemplation of marriage, the party who breaks the engagement without justification is not entitled to either the return or retention of the ring.
(i)      Legal theories to support recoveryà
1.       Conditional Gift- A’s gift to B of an engagement ring is conditioned on B’s performance of an act (getting married). If the condition (the marriage) is not fulfilled, then A may recover the gift.
2.       Fraud- if B obtains the ring fraudulently (i.e. never had intention of marrying A) then the ring is recoverable under equitable principles
3.       Unjust Enrichment- B has received a benefit (the ring) under circumstances such that it would be inequitable for B to retain the benefit without payment. B must disgorge the benefit by making restitution to A of the ring or its value.
d)      Premarital Contracts
i)        Simeone v. SimeoneàRequirements for Validity
(1)    Facts- Mrs. Simeone (P) requested alimony pendent lite, contrary to the prenuptial agreement she had signed on the eve of her wedding.
(2)    Rule (Modern trend)- absent fraud, misrepresentation or duress, spouses should be bound by the terms of their prenuptial agreements.               
(a)    Traditional rule- required that the agreement be fair under all the relevant circumstances.
ii)      McKee-Johnson v. Johnson-
(1)    Facts- Wife isn’t represented except by husbands lawyer
(2)    Holding- Court holds that pre-marital agreements can deal with both premarital and marital property.
(a)    Test procedural and substantive fairness at time of execution, and a whole second look at substantive at the time of enforcement.
(3)    UPAA (19 states)- Requires both substantive and procedural fairness. Agreement is unenforceable if it was either executed involuntarily, or was unconscionable when executed and there is an absence ofà
(a)    Full and fair disclosure of financial assets and obligations,
(b)   A voluntary and express waiver of the right to disclosure in writing,
(c)    Adequate knowledge or reasonable opportunity to have adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
(4)    ALI principles- pre-marital agreements must meet standards of substantive and procedural fairness. Rebuttable presumption arises that the agreement satisfies informed consent ifà
(a)    it was executed at least 30 days prior to marriage,
(b)   both parties had, or were advised to obtain, counsel and had the opportunity to do so, and
(c)    if one of the parties did not have counsel, the agreement contained understandable information about the parties’ rights and the adverse nature of their interests.
iii)    In re Marriage of Bonds
(1)    CUPAA (CA)à allows unconscionable agreement that had disclosure and was voluntary, does not require independent counsel.
(a)    Agreement valid unlessà
(i)      Involuntary at execution
(ii)    At execution, was unconscionable and there was no disclosure or knowing waiver.
iv)    In re Marriage of Shanks
(1)    IUPAA (IA) differs from UPAAàby prohibiting premarital agreements from adversely affecting spousal support. Also, disclosure sanitizes unconscionability in UPAA, Iowa changes that by making them separate elements.
(a)    Substantive Unconscionabilityàwhether the provisions of the contract are mutual or the division of property is consistent with the financial condition of the parties at the time of execution.
(i)      Shanksà concluded the agreement was not unduly harsh or oppressive b/c the agreement
1.       contemplated leaving both parties substantially in the same financial condition as they were before the marriage,
2.       included primarily mutual covenants and obligations, and
3.        provided for some potential financial benefits to Teresa, .
(b)   Procedural Unconscionabilityàprimary focus is the advantaged party’s exploitation of the disadvantaged party’s lack of understanding or unequal bargaining power.
(i)      Relevant factorsà
1.       The disadvantaged party’s opportunity to seek independent counsel
a.       Equitable principles will not permit a party to eschew an opportunity to consult counsel as to the legal effect of a proposed contact, execute the contract, and then challenge enforceability on grounds of inadequate counsel.
2.       The relative sophistication of the parties in legal and financial matters
3.       The temporal proximity between presentation of prenup and marriage date
4.       Use of confusing language or fine print
5.       Use of fraudulent/deceptive practices to procure disadvantaged parties assent.
e)      Constitutional Limits on State Regulation of Entry into Marriage
i)        Loving v. Virgina
(1)    Facts- Loving (D), a awhite man, and Jeter (D), a black woman, both residents of Virginia (P), went to DC to marry, as marriage between white persons and any other race was prohibited in Virginia (P).
(2)    Rule- the freedom to marry or not marry a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the state.
(a)    Court treats right to marry as part of substantive due process (Liberty) and also equal protection (fundamental rights).
(b)   Rule of lex loci- a marriage is valid where performed is valid everywhere.
ii)      Zablocki v. Redhail
(1)    Facts- P contended a WI statute prohibiting a person with a child support obligation from marrying without a prior court order violated equal protection and due process.
(2)    Rule- a state statute denying a fundamental right to marry must be supported by important state interests and be closely tailored to effectuate such interests in order to be constitutional.
(a)    Some reasonable regulations will be upheld- not all state restrictions of the right to marry are to receive heightened scrutiny.
iii)    Turner v. Safley
(1)    Facts- D, on behalf of the state of MO, contended its prison regulation severely restricting inmate marriages was constitutional.
(2)    Rule- there is a constitutionally protected marriage relationship in the prison context.
(a)    Right is subject to impact, however cannot be unnecessarily infringed. Regulation not reasonably related to any legi

te regulation: fraud and duress
(1)    Facts- A woman told a man that she was pregnant with his child, and the two married and remained so for 20 years. When the woman petitioned to dissolve marriage, man cross-petitioned to have the marriage annulled on grounds that the woman had fraudulently induced him to marry her by misrepresenting her son’s paternity.
(a)    Rule- materiality test: P required to show that he would not have married D had the P known of the misrepresentation, if so then voidable.
(i)     Misrepresentations of health, wealth and status are generally insufficient for annulment.
(b)   Elements of Fraudàhusband must plead and prove:
(i)     A representation by wife
(ii)   Its falsity
(iii)Its materiality
(iv) Wife’s knowledge of its falsity or ignorance of its truth
(v)    Wife’s intent that the representation be acted upon by the husband
(vi) Husband’s ignorance of the falsity of the representation
(vii)                        Husband’s reliance on the truth of the representation
(viii)                      Husband’s right to rely on the representation, and
(ix) Husband sustained consequent and proximate injury.
(c)    the fraud sufficient for annulment must be not only clear but probable, also largely uncontradicted by evidence of the complaining spouse’s willingness to enter marriage despite fraud.
(i)     Even if P knowingly misrepresented son’s paternity to D, other compelling evidence overcame that finding.
g)      How to Marry?
i)        Carabetta v. Carrabettaà Procedural restrictions: licensure and solemnization
(1)    Facts- trial court held the Carabetta marriage was void because it was religiously solemnized, yet without a statutorily required marriage license.
(2)    Rule- a ceremonial marriage is not void unless the licensing statute explicitly makes unlicensed marriages invalid.
(a)    Failure to comply with the procedural formalities- will not invalidate a marriage, this rule operates unless expressly held otherwise by statute.
ii)      Jennings v. Hurtà common law marriage
(1)    Facts- William Hurt (D) impregnates ballet dancer (P) while married to another woman, tempestuous relationship, lived together temp in South Carolina (38 days), she says they were planning to marry, he denies it; couldn’t have common law marriage while he was married to another. P brought suit against D seeking the court’s declaration of the existence of a common law marriage.
(2)    Rule- Common law rule in SC is evidenced by a present intention and agreement between the parties to take each other as husband and wife.
(a)    Elements of common law marriageà
(i)      Legal capacity to marry
(ii)    Present agreement
(iii)   Cohabitation
(iv) Holding out
(b)   Removal of impediment ≠ CL marriage- A party cannot claim the existence of a common law marriage where one of the parties is married to a third person. Neither does a subsequent divorce from the third party transform the relationship into a common law marriage.