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Family Law
Wayne State University Law School
Abramowicz, Sarah

FAMILY LAW

I. When Are Adult Partners a Family?
The Partner’s Rights and Duties in Relation to Third Parties                                                1
Braschi v. Stahl Associates Company                                                                                             1
Defining Family                                                                                                                                 1
City of Ladue v. Horn
Bororugh of Glassboro v. Vallorosi                                                                                                                1

II. The Importance of Being a Family
Martial Property                                                                                                                               1
Common law                                                                                                                                       1
Ownership and Control of Wealth                                                                                                2
Murdoch v. Murdoch                                                                                                                          2
Community property system                                                                                                          2
The Estate by the Entirety                                                                                                               2
Daily Management and Control of Martial Wealth                                                                 2
Maguire v. Maguire                                                                                                                            3
The Doctrine of Necessaries                                                                                                            3
Sharpe Furniture, Inc. v. Buckstaff                                                                                                  3

III. Marriage – Status and Contract
Premartial Agreements                                                                                                                    3
Sanders v. Sanders                                                                                                                              4
Simeone v. Simeone                                                                                                                            4
Modification Agreements                                                                                                                5             
In re Estate of Hereford                                                                                                                     5
During Marriage Contracts                                                                                                            5
Borelli v. Brusseau                                                                                                                              5
Pacelli v. Pacelli                                                                                                                                                 5
Separation Agreements                                                                                                                    6
Post-Decree Attacks on Agreement and Decrees Based on Them                                          6
Hresko v. Hresko                                                                                                                                  6
Violence Between Spouse                                                                                                                 6             
People v. Liberta                                                                                                                                  6
Protective Orders                                                                                                                              6
Gonzales v. City of Castle Rock                                                                                                       6
Spousal Tort Liability                                                                                                                      7
Burns v. Burns                                                                                                                                      7
Hill v. Hill                                                                                                                                             7

IV. Entering Marriage
Formalities                                                                                                                                          7
Void v. Voidable                                                                                                                                 7
The Agreement to Marry                                                                                                 7
Lutwalk v. U.S.                                                                                                                                     7
Schibi v. Schibi                                                                                                                                    8
Capacity to Agree                                                                                                                              8
Edmunds v. Edwards                                                                                                                          8
Fraud and Duress                                                                                                                               8
Wolfe v. Wolfe                                                                                                                                      8
Reynolds v. Reynolds                                                                                                                          8
Kober v. Kober                                                                                                                                    8
Substantive Restrictions on Marrying                                                                                          8
Monogamy                                                                                                                                          8
Potter v. Murray City                                                                                                                         8
Reynolds v. U.S.                                                                                                                                   9
Relationships                                                                                                                                       9
State v. Sharon H.                                                                                                                               9
Age                                                                                                                                                         9
In re Barbara Haven                                                                                                                           9
Conflicts of Law                                                                                                                                 9
In re May’s Estate                                                                                                                               9
Constitutional Limitations on Restrictions                                                                                 10
Loving v. Virginia                                                                                                                               10
Zablocki v. Redhail                                                                                                                             10
Same-Sex Marriage                                                                                                                          11
Goodrich v. Dept. of Public Health                                                                                                 11
Baker v. Vermont                                                                                                                                 11
Baehr v. Lewin                                                                                                                                     12
Hernandez v. Robles                                                                                                                           12
Same Sex Marriage and Conflicts of Law                                                                                  12

V. Alternatives to Ceremonial Marriage
Common Law Marriage                                                                                                                  12
In re Marriage of Winegard                                                                                                              13
Presumption of Marriage and Putative Spouses                                                                       13
Spearman v. Spearman                                                                                                                      13
Judicially Created Solutions as Alternative to Marriage                                                       13
Marvin v. Marvin                                                                                                                                                13
In the Matter of the Estate of Roccamonte                                                                                     14
Connell v. Francisco                                                                                                                          14

VI. Divorce
Traditional Divorce                                                                                                                          14
Kucera v. Kucera                                                                                                                                14
Simpson v. Simpson                                                                                                                            15
Ground and Defenses for Divorce                                                                                                 15
No-Fault Divorce                                                                                                                               15
Grounds for Divorce                                                                                                                           16
Desrochers v. Desrochers                                                                                                                  16
No-Fault Divorce Procedure                                                                                                           16
Boddie v. Connecticut                                                                                                                        16
Manion v. Manion                                                                                                                              16
Covenant Marriage                                                                                                                           17

VII. Property Division and Spousal Support
Models of property division at divorce                                                                                        17
Meaning of Equitable Distribution                                                                                               18
In the Matter of the Marriage of Pierson                                                                                       18
Characterization of Property as Separate or Marital                                                             18
O’Brien v. O’Brien                                                                                                                              19
Dividing Debts                                                                                                                                    19
Geldmeier v. Geldmeier                                                                                                                      19                          
Alimony                                                                                                                                                20
Turner v. Turner                                                                                                                                  20
In re the Marriage of Laroque                                                                                                          21
Professional Practices and Other Closely Held Business                                                        22
May v. May                                                                                                                                           22
Degrees, Licenses, Jobs, and Earning Capacity                                                                         22
Mahoney v. Mahoney                                                                                                                         22
O’Brien v. O’Brien                                                                                                                              23

VIII. Child Support
Application of Child Support Formulas                                                                                      23
Peterson v. Peterson                                                                                                                           23
Colonna v. Colonna                                                                                                                           24
Support for Older Children                                                                                                            24
Childers v. Childers                                                                                                                            24

VIIII. Child Custody
Best Interest Standard                                                                                                                      25
Painter v. Bannister                                                                                                                            25
The Primary Caretaker

lry) husband could do whatever they wanted. However, if no children, the wife’s property would go directly to heirs. 
Modifications
Woman’s Separate Estate in Equity – court of equity devised this principle so that women would be able to keep property for personal use through a grantor specifying the condition.
Married Women’s Property Acts – this gave women the same legal capacity that single women had. This only addressed married women’s separate property.
Today: each spouse owns individually what property he or she:
Brought into the marriage
Earned during the marriage
Acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance
* Name on title determines ownership

Ownership and Control of Wealth
Murdoch (∏) v. Murdoch (∆)
Facts: ∏ claimed ½ interest in ranch and related assets which were titled only in Mr. Murdoch’s name. Throughout marriage, ∏ was employed doing chores on the ranches. Earnings from work were used toward down payment on the ranch in issue, and to purchase assets w/in. Lower court dismissed claim.
Holding: Court held that in order to assert beneficial interest in marital property that is titled solely in the other spouse, the proponent spouse must demonstrate a common intention to share (resulting trust). There is no evidence here. Affirmed.
Dissent: ∏ was not doing mere house-keeping chores (under marriage bond, house-keeping chores would not be considered compensable) but hard labor. A constructive trust in this case should have been applied here. 
Resulting and Constructive Trusts –
Resulting trusts – an equitable trust that is established from the inferred intent of the parties to create a trust due to the attendant circumstances.
Constructive trusts – a trust that arises by operation of law whereby the court imposes a trust upon property lawfully held by one party for the benefit of another, as a result of some wrongdoing by the party in possession so as to avoid unjust enrichment.
Traditional view: Only applicable during fraud or duress
Broader view (marital dispute): trust when there is unjust enrichment, justice requires partial ownership of property
*Community Property System – under this approach, both spouses own wealth acquired by the labor of either of them during the marriage regardless of whose name it is under. Right to manage it differs by state and tends to be regulated by statute. Assets obtained prior to marriage or by gift or inheritance during marriage are separate property. 
·         3 types of control:
1.       Joint – make joint decisions
2.       Sole – one spouse has power
3.       Equal – either spouse

2. The Estate by the Entirety
Available in about 20 states. 
Spouses and spouses alone can hold property, real or personal, as a tenancy by the entirety.
As in joint tenancy which is available to anyone, each tenant owns 100% of whole
But unlike, joint tenancy, the estate by the entirety can be severed unilaterally
In EE, husband and wife possess equal ownership interests in the tenancy. During marriage, wife’s was essentially inchoate. Tenants are essentially regarded as one tenant having undivided interest in the whole of the property during the tenancy and through survivorship. Can only be severed by death, divorce, or annulment. 

3. The Daily Management and Control of Marital Wealth
Maguire v. Maguire
Facts: ∏ brought suit against her husband, ∆, for maintenance and support while the couple were living together as husband and wife.   Lower courts ordered that ∆ was obligated to furnish household improvements that ∏ wanted. 
Holding: In order for one spouse to maintain an action against the other for support and maintenance, the parties must first be separated or living apart. The general rule provides that a husband has a duty to provide his family with support and maintenance commensurate with his financial position. If a husband abandon’s his wife without providing her with a means support, then the wife many bring an equitable action to compel such maintenance, even though she does not simultaneously seek a divorce. Here the parties have lived together for over 35 yrs., during which ∏ has been supported in a consistent manner. ∆ has satisfied his legal duty to provide support. Reversed and Remanded.
Dissent:  ∏ should not be denied relief solely on the basis that she doesn’t live separate and apart from her husband, nor is she seeking a divorce. An action to compel the payment of support should be equally available to a spouse who is denied the right to adequate maintenance in her own home.
4. The Doctrine of Necessaries
*33 states follow at least some part of it. 
Sharpe Furniture, Inc. v. Buckstaff
Facts: ∆ purchased a sofa from ∏ on credit and failed to make payment thereon.
Holding: When an item or service necessary for the maintenance of the family is purchased, and no payment for that item has been tendered, the husband is held primarily liable therefore and an action for an implied K may be maintained. The common law rule of necessaries provides that if a husband fails to provide his wife with suitable and proper necessaries may maintain an action against him for the value thereof. Necessaries has been defined to include food, clothing, medical attention, transportation, habitation, and furnishings commensurate with husband’s ability to provide therefore. Traditional view: The burden is on the creditor to demonstrate that the item provided in fact constituted a necessary, and that the ∆ husband failed to provide it for his wife or family. New view implicated from this case is that the creditor does not need to show necessity but need to show it’s reasonably necessary. The rule arose from the legal institution of marriage, as a matter of public policy. The rationale supporting the rule is the state’s interest in safeguarding the welfare of family members. Affirmed.
Concurrence: Rule should be gender neutral to reflect the modern world. Thus, husband shouldn’t automatically be held liable.