Intro to U.S. Law
Family Law and Related Topics
Sources of Law Statutes set forth general elements Court interpret and create precedent Mostly concerns fundamental rights
Welfare benefits and child support enforcement
Ceremonial Marriage Legal age – usually 16 to 18 years old
Person must understand nature of act
Michigan Age Statute
Additional Considerations Many prohibit Uncle/Niece and Aunt/Nephew
Some prohibit first cousins
Marriage Procedure First must obtain license from state Must apply with the state License usually issued by county clerk Many states have waiting period between application and issuance date. Few states require blood tests Then marriage must be “solemnized”
Can be done by religious representative or civil official
Common Law Marriage Recognized in about ¼ of states Does not technically meet marriage requirement No license, no solemnization, etc. Considered as implied agreement to be married.
Death benefits, taxes, etc.
Validity of Foreign Marriages Foreign – different state OR different country Between the States – Full Faith and Credit Clause Between State and Foreign Country Generally conflict of law, private law question States generally do not have statutes directly on point
Gay Marriage and the recognition of “foreign” marriages
Foreign Marriage Statute
Marital Property “by marriage, the husband and wife are one person in the law; that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband.”
Blackstone, Commentaries of the Laws of England (1765-1769)
Married Women Property Act Rules developed by equity courts in England started creating exceptions to common law. By 1900, England and all states passed laws permitting woman to have and control separate property.
Eventually these laws provided full rights and responsibilities to married women.
Modern Approach Common Law Separate Property Approach Upon Divorce Followed in vast majority of states Allows for “separate” property to be kept MWPA laws plus “equitable distribution” of property upon divorce.
Requires equal distribution of property upon divorce
Community Approach Similar to laws in civil law system Used in only a minority of states All property acquired during marriage becomes marital property with spouses being joint owners.
Equitable distribution upon divorce
Premarital Agreements Contract setting forth property rights upon marriage.
Sometimes called “prenuptial” or “antenuptial”
The Case of Anna Nicole Smith Age 26, former Playboy Playmate.
Marriage ends 14 months later upon his death.
Legal Responsibilities Both parents have a legal duty to financially support their children. All Assets and Debts are joint property unless otherwise noted. Property brought into a marriage – differs from state to state.
Surviving spouse is legally entitled to portion of state upon death of spouse.
Legal Rights Impacts particularly how business receipts are taxed. What about the marriage penalty?
Spouse entitled to receive benefits
Legal Rights Insurance via spouse's employer, Leave (family, bereavement, Pension Visitation, making medical decisions
Autopsies, burial decisions
Legal Rights Alimony, child support, etc. Renewal of lease signed by spouse, living in “family only” neighborhoods.
Immigration, marital privilege, crime victim's recovery benefits, etc.
Same-Sex Marriage & Rights States Allowing for Same-gender Marriage MA, CT (Hawaii for a few years, CA for a few months) States Allowing for Domestic Partnerships VT, NJ, NH, (full rights) ME, HI, DC, OR, WA (limited rights)
These marriages/unions will not be recognized by Federal government or other states.
Gay Marriage by State