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Family Law
University of Minnesota Law School
Sanderson, Jean M.

Family Law Outline
I: Courtship & Marriage A: Courtship patterns:            -Changes to public announcement            -Less involvement from family etc…
B: The Marriage contract(Is Contract Law a good fit for marriage issues?)
C: Premarital Controversies            A: Heartbalm Actions & Informal Contracts To MARRY
            1: Breach of a promise to marry:                         -Only a few jurisdictions still recognize the claim for breach of promise to marry ,                       but often w/ limitations                                    Damages:                                                -Usually can’t sue solely for a broken heart, Punitive damages are                                                             sometimes given                                                -Plaintiff may recover the monetary and social value of the                                                            marriage as well as expenses incurred in preparation for the                                                         marriage                                    Defenses:                                                -Physical / mental defect                                                -Unchastely of plaintiff                                                -Lack of love                                    2:Seduction:                         -Tort action at Common Law                                                -Tort occurs when an unmarried previously chased woman consents to                                          intercourse in reliance on defendants promise to marry her                                                -At Common Law the Woman could NOT bring the action, Her Father would have                        had to bring action… but legislature has given the woman the ability to bring the                                action.            3:Alienation of Affection – NOT PRE-Marriage *Existing Marriage*                        -There is an already existing marriage                        -This is to protect against bad actions of third parties                        -Third party has changed his/her spouse’s feelings                        -Requires                                     1: A valid marriage                                    2: Wrongful conduct by defendant                                    3: An attempt to alienate the affection                                     4: Loss of affection                                    5: A casual connection between defendants conduct and plaintiffs loss            4:Action for criminal Conversation:                        -Accusation on third party for having sex w/ the plaintiff’s spouse                        -Unlike alienation it requires ACTUAL sexual intercourse by defendant w/                                    plaintiff’s spouse.            B: Gifts in Contemplation of Marriage            1st: Was the gift in contemplation of marriage?            2nd: Upon the breakup is the donor entitled to the gift back?            -Is this a conditional gift ( condition on the marriage ) OR            -IS this an absolute gift… here it is now                        Fault based approach:                                    -Donor of gift gets the gift back IF mutual agreement OR unjustifiably                                           broken by Donee                                    -Idea is that courts should not aid a donor who has broken his promise to                                      marry to regain possession of something he could NOT have regained had                                    he kept his promise                        Modern Approach / NO FAULT                                    -The courts will NOT penalize someone from stopping an unhappy                                                 marriage
                        Case Example:                        Fowler v. Perry:                                    -Gave ring to fiancé on condition of marriage                                    -She left and broke off engagement                                    -He got ring back b/c no fault and really wasn’t his fault
D: Premarital/Antenuptial Contracts – Formal ContractsAgreements made between people before they marry in CONTEMPLATION of marriage            A: Why should we look at these agreements different from other agreements?                                                1:Parties:                                    -The parties are different from ordinary contracting parities                                    -They are in intimate relationships and are not considered rational                                    -Law typically calls these relationships as confidential and that the                                                 parities may owe each other more honesty etc…                                    -May have greater opportunity for overreaching
                        2:Subject Matter:                                    -Agreements alter the incidents of the state prescribed martial Regimes                                    -Ex: Agreement states that if we divorce you get nothing, while w/out the                                     agreement under the state’s prescribed marital regime you would get                                          half.                                    -States have a greater inter

                                                                    – The court look at the parties expectations and lives since the time the                                         contract was executed… don’t want to enforce an agreement that puts                                          the party on welfare, or what if one party of the marriage became                                        completely disabled, or the birth of children where one party took                                           complete responsibility  
                        Substantive Fairness:                        1: At time of execution:                                    -Unreasonable/Unfavorable terms on one party to the advantage                                      of the other                                    -These are typically one sided           
                                    2: At time of enforcement:                                    -Unduly oppressive harsh or one sided effect upon the party                                               against whom the enforcement is sought                                    -There could be numerous changed circumstance, children, loss of                                    job, illness, etc…
                        Procedural Fairness:
                        1: Voluntary
                        2: Counsel
                        3: Disclosure
                                    4: Duress
Minnesota reviews Substantive fairness at the time of execution and enforcement for             1: Post Nuptial agreements            2: Prenuptial agreements????
Subdivision 1.Antenuptial contract.            A man and woman of legal age may enter into an antenuptial contract or settlement      prior to solemnization of marriage which shall be valid and enforceable if                         (a) there is a full and fair disclosure of the earnings and property of each party,        and      (b) the parties have had an opportunity to consult with legal counsel of their                              own choice.