Family Law
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  • 1. Chapter 53: Family Law Business Law Legal, E-Commerce, Ethical, and International Environments
  • 2. Premarriage Issues
    • Promise to Marry
      • 19 th century courts recognized actions for breach of a promise to marry.
    • Today, courts do not recognize this breach.
      • Persons breaking engagement could be responsible for costs incurred.
  • 3. Engagement
    • Fault Rule: If groom breaks engagement, woman keeps ring. If she breaks engagement, she returns ring.
    • Objective Rule : If an engagement is broken off, the prospective bride must return the engagement ring, irrespective as to which party broke off the engagement.
  • 4. Prenuptial Agreements
    • A contract that is entered into prior to marriage.
    • Specifies how property will be distributed up the termination of the marriage either by divorce of death of a spouse.
    • Each party must make full disclosure of all assets and liabilities.
    • Each party should be represented by an attorney.
  • 5. Marriage
    • Legal union between spouses.
    • Confers certain legal rights and duties upon the spouse and the children born of the marriage.
  • 6. Marriage Requirements
    • State law establishes requirements.
    • Most states require that parties be a man and a woman.
    • Must be of certain age, or have parental consent.
    • Marriages between close relatives prohibited.
  • 7. Marriage License
    • State law requires marriage licenses.
      • Obtained at county clerk’s office.
    • Some states require marriage ceremony.
      • After ceremony, license is recorded.
  • 8. Common Law Marriage
    • Type of marriage recognized in some states.
      • No marriage license required
      • Certain requirements must be met
      • Parties must intend to be husband and wife
      • Parties must hold themselves out as husband and wife
  • 9. Parents’ Rights and Duties
    • Parents have obligations to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and other necessities.
    • Must provide these until child is 18 or emancipated.
    • Child neglect if a parent does not provide.
  • 10. Paternity Actions
    • Suit to determine identity of father.
      • Brought by government to get financial assistance payments.
      • Brought by father to establish if he is biological father.
    • Most states presume that the husband of woman who bears a child is the father.
  • 11. Parent’s Liability for Child’s Wrongful Act
    • Parents are not generally liable for child’s negligent acts.
    • Parents are liable if their negligence caused their child’s act.
    • Some states have enacted child liability statutes.
      • Make parents financially liable for intentional torts of child.
  • 12. Adoption
    • Person becomes the legal parent to a child that is not biologically theirs.
    • Can be an agency adoption or an independent adoption.
    • Procedures established by state.
    • Biological parents’ rights are terminated by legal decree or death.
    • Court must formally approve.
  • 13. Agency Adoption
    • Person adopts child from social services organization of the state.
    • May be open-adoption.
      • Biological and adoptive parents introduces before adoption.
      • Some states give visitation rights to biological parents.
    • Requires court approval.
  • 14. Independent Adoption
    • Private arrangement between biological and adoptive parents, usually through an intermediary.
      • Attorney
      • Adoption agency
      • Stepparent adoption
    • Requires court approval.
  • 15. Foster Care
    • Children placed under state care as temporary arrangement.
    • State pays foster parent to care for child.
    • Arrangement terminated when child returned to biological parents or adopted.
  • 16. Marriage Termination
    • Can occur through and annulment or divorce.
    • Annulment can occur when parties lacked capacity or consent. Declaration that marriage never existed.
    • Divorce is an order of the court that marriage is terminated.
  • 17. Divorce
    • Legal proceeding
    • Must file a petition for divorce.
      • Traditionally, had to prove fault.
      • Today, most states are no-fault.
    • Divorce is final when a court orders that the marriage is terminated.
  • 18. Annulment
    • Order of court declaring that marriage did not exist.
    • Certain ground must be asserted.
      • One party lacked the capacity to consent.
      • Duress
      • Fraud
    • Children born of annulled marriage are legitimate.
  • 19. Divorce Proceedings
    • Commenced with filing a petition for divorce.
    • Petition served on other party.
    • Other party has limited time to file an answer.
    • If parties do not reach settlement, case goes to trial.
    • Both parties call witnesses and introduce evidence.
    • Judge issues a decree of divorce.
      • Some states have waiting periods after trial before it is issued.
  • 20. Settlement
    • Termination of marriage could be settled with a settlement.
      • Mediation frequently employed
    • Divorcing parties must sign a settlement agreement.
      • Document states that parties have settled all property rights and other issues.
  • 21. Division of Assets
    • Two types of property:
    • Separate property owned by spouse prior to marriage, as well as inheritance and gifts received during marriage.
      • Each spouse usually is awarded separate property.
    • Marital property acquired during marriage, or separate property which changes title to jointly owned is considered marital asset.
  • 22. Marital Property
    • Some states follow the rule of equitable distribution.
      • Means fair distribution of property to both parties of the divorce.
    • Other states follow the community property rule which means equal distribution of property.
    • Community property means all property acquired during the marriage is divided equally between the individuals.
  • 23. Division of Debts
    • Type of debt and state law determine how they are divided.
    • Debts incurred during marriage for necessities are considered joint marital debts.
    • Spouses are jointly liable for taxes incurred.
  • 24. Spousal Support
    • Spousal support: also called alimony. Money paid by one divorced spouse to another.
      • Can be temporary, rehabilitation, or permanent alimony.
    • Spousal support terminates at death of spouse, remarriage, or if they become self-sufficient.
  • 25. Child Support
    • Payments made by non- custodial parent to help pay for the financial support of his or her children.
    • Duty to pay continues until child reaches the age of majority or is emancipated.
    • Award may be modified based on changed circumstances.
  • 26. Child Custody
    • The awarding of legal custody of a child to a parent.
    • Based on the best interest of the child.
    • Parent awarded custody is the custodial parent and has legal custody .
  • 27. Joint Custody
    • Custody could be joint.
    • Both parents are responsible for making major decisions concerning the child.
    • Sometimes awarded joint physical custody.
      • Child spends certain portion of time being raised by each parent.
  • 28. Visitation Rights
    • If there is no joint custody, the non-custodial parent may have visitation rights.
    • Can order court-supervised visitation.