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Family Law
Wayne State University Law School
Mahoney, Margaret

I.                    MARRIAGE
A.     Introduction
1.      Legal consequences of marriage
a.      Emotional attachments (caretaker)
(1)   Family leave provisions
(2)   Immigration preferences
(3)   Suits for loss of consortium
(4)   Hospital visitation & intensive care
(5)   Conjugal visits in prison
b.      Parenting
(1)   Right to adoption
(2)   Visitation
                                                                                                                                 (a)      “Other mother” situations (same sex relationships)
                                                                                                                                 (b)      Ex-stepparents
c.      Economic (regulating economic relationship between the parties or between the couple & the state)
(1)   Inheritance (prevent disinheritance)
(2)   Beneficiaries of life insurance
(3)   Social security
(4)   Workers’ compensation benefits
(5)   Health insurance
(6)   Tax benefits
(7)   Pensions
(8)   Alimony or division of marital property
d.      Other reasons
(1)   Religious
                                                                                                                                 (a)      Religious marriage ceremonies do not confer legal rights
(2)   Parental pressure
(3)   Societal recognition
(4)   Emotional satisfaction
(5)   Permanence/commitment
2.      Interstate recognition of marriages
a.      General rule – Conflict of law
(1)   A marriage valid where it is formed is valid everywhere unless it is against deeply held public policy of the forum state
                                                                                                                                 (a)      E.g., first cousin is likely not deeply held; but same sex & polygamy generally are
3.      Void vs. Voidable Marriages
a.      Void
(1)   Never valid; invalid from the start; void ab inito
(2)   Usually the defect is very serious
                                                                                                                                 (a)      E.g., brother/sister; polygamy; same sex
(3)   Cannot be made valid
(4)   3Ps may be able to question validity
(5)   Can be collaterally attacked
(6)   In theory don’t need an annulment action to end it, but should get one so you have legal documentation
b.      Voidable
(1)   Valid until declared invalid
(2)   E.g., gin marriage; fraud; age
(3)   Must have a court action (annulment) to end
(4)   Only one of the parties can attack (no 3P)
                                                                                                                                 (a)      One exception
i.         Parents for underage children
(5)   Cannot be attacked after one of the parties dies
(6)   Can be ratified
c.      Have to look to state statute to determine what is void/voidable
(1)   Exception
                                                                                                                                 (a)      Federal statutes
i.         Doesn’t matter what the state law says (e.g., IRS, INS)
d.      Annulment vs. Divorce
(1)   Annulment
                                                                                                                                 (a)      Marriage was never valid in the first place
(2)   Divorce
                                                                                                                                 (a)      Valid marriage & have legal basis to end marriage
B.     Substantive Restrictions
1.      Same sex
a.      Issues
(1)   How much should the state interfere w/ a person’s private life?
(2)   How important is it to be married?
b.      Domestic partnership
(1)   Non-marital K or arrangement between 2 persons recognized by a business or govt entity & providing limited benefits
                                                                                                                                 (a)      Benefits may be fairly narrow (e.g., bereavement leave, hospital visitation, health benefits) or, if recognized by a govt entity, may be as much as giving all the rights that are given to a legally married spouse
(2)   Not a marriage
                                                                                                                                 (a)      Doesn’t satisfy the people that think gender shouldn’t matter in marriage

psychological, genitalia, etc)
(2)   2 approaches
                                                                                                                                 (a)      Assigned at birth & don’t care what changes were made
                                                                                                                                 (b)      Gender at time of marriage
h.      Other countries
(1)   Scandinavia & other Western European countries have domestic unions
(2)   France
                                                                                                                                 (a)      1999 Civil Solidarity PACS
i.         Gives couples some benefits & protections of marriage
a.      Have to register
                                                                                                                                                                                                               i.      After 3 years can do joint taxes
b.      Get work benefits
c.      Easy to get out of
                                                                                                                                                                                                               i.      Divorce is hard to get out of in France
ii.       Majority of couples who registered under this were actually heterosexual couples
i.         Recent OH SC case
(1)   2 women in relationship – 1 pregnant — wanted to change name so they all had the same last name
(2)   Trial & appellate court said no
                                                                                                                                 (a)      Trying to back-door same sex marriage
(3)   OH SC said can do it
1 Justice dissented