Goals Discuss how the law affects premarital and marital relationships Explain the uses of prenuptial agreements Name the rights and duties of husbands and wives
DEBATE Ben, 16, has been dating Betsy for several months when he told his parents about the relationship. Bens father has been in business with Betsys dad and the partnership ended poorly. When his father heard the news, he told Ben to stop seeing Betsy. Ben refused, and his father grounded him. When Ben continued to see Betsy, his father took away the car Ben bought with his own money, stopped paying Bens tuition, cut off his allowance, and spent the funds saved for Bens college. He even threatened to spank Ben. Ultimately, with his mothers backing, Ben brought suit against his father for improper parenting. Bens fathers attorney quickly filed a motion to dismiss the suit. The motion stated that improper parenting was not a legitimate cause of action and that the father had acted within his powers as a parent under the law. The lower court dismissed the suit, and Ben appealed to the state court of appeals.
DEBATE Make a persuasive argument that emphasized the legal reasons supporting Bens suit –Children are maturing faster (more rights and responsibilities) in todays society –Parents should not be able to create an environment and prospective future for their offspring and then, without good cause, destroy their childs present and future Make a persuasive argument that emphasized the legal reasons supporting his fathers actions –The father acted within his current rights as a parent under our laws even to the point of threatening (or carrying out some minor form of corporeal punishment) –Everything the child earns is basically the parents until the child is emancipated or enters his or her majority –He did what our society expects of him and empowers him to do
Whats Your Verdict? Jim and Mary are both 16 years old. While dating they have intimate relations, and Mary becomes pregnant. Will the law compel them to marry? –Do you think Jim and Mary should get married? –What obligation, if any, does Jim have toward Mary?
Premarital Relationships Marriage –A legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife Cohabitate –A man and woman who live together outside of marriage Illegal in most states until the late 1970s Still illegal in some states – seldom enforced Laws state a minimum age for marriage without parental permission (typically 18) No law specifies a minimum age for dating
Premarital Relationships No law restricts the choice of marital partners (one exception) –Close relatives may not marry Minor child can be told not to date or not to see a specific person –Can only be enforced with reasonable force –Parental use of excessive force may result in charges of child abuse
Premarital Relationships If pregnancy results and the responsible male can be identified, he will be required to pay the females medical bills and to contribute to the childs support until the child is 18 –True even if the father is a minor No law exists to force the parents of an illegitimate child to marry
Whats Your Verdict? Grady and Cheryl are engaged to be married. Gradys parents strongly disapprove of the up- coming marriage. They finally convince Grady to break the engagement. Can Cheryl bring a successful lawsuit against Gradys parents for interfering with her contract to marry Grady? –If you were Cheryl, would you still want to marry Grady?
The Marital Contract If one party in a heterosexual relationship proposes marriage and the other accepts, a binding contract results If later both mutually agree to end their engagement, the contract is annulled –The law considers their agreement void and to never have existed Suits were notorious because juries set high figures to compensate the jilted party (usually the woman) –Actual damages, humiliation, and hurt feelings Most states have banned breach-of-promise suits Other states have placed a cap on the amount of damages
The Marital Contract What if a third party interferes with the engagement? –Few states allow damage suits against intruders –Parents can try to prevent their son or daughter from marrying (cannot bring suit) Gifts create legal problems –Ring (given in expectation of marriage) is usually ordered to be returned The woman may get to keep in the man called off the engagement –Gifts other than those given in expectation of marriage can be kept by the recipient
Whats Your Verdict? Zed lived with Tamra for about two years. Although they never applied for a marriage license, they told everyone that they were married. Recently, they split up, and now Tamra is about to marry another man. However, Zed claims that she cannot enter another marriage because she is his common-law wife. Is he correct?
How Do You Get Married? State Marriage Requirements –Each state has its own requirements –Begin process by appearing before the city –Must apply for and pay a fee for a marriage license –With parental consent, most states allow minors to marry –Some states require a blood test before the license is issued –Once licensed is issued, any authorized religious of civil officials can perform the ceremony Court clerks, mayors, judges, rabbis, ministers, priests, sea captains –An attempt has been made to standardize state laws for marriage and divorce (The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act) Adopted by 8 states (Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado, Montana, Arizona, and Washington)
How Do You Get Married? Common-Law Marriage –Occur when a single woman and a single man lived together, share common property, and hold themselves out as husband and wife over a prolonged period of time (usually 10 years or longer) Roots are in the American Frontier –Absence of suitable authorities, many pioneers could not follow the legal methods for marriage About ¼ of our states allow common law marriages (MT, ID, UT, CO, KS, OK, TX, IA, PA, RI, DC, SC, GA, AL) –All states must recognize common law if such a union is legal in the state in which it occurred
Whats Your Verdict? Your friend Bills mother died three years ago. Now his father plans to remarry. Bill is concerned that his fathers fiancée will have a claim against the family home and other property. Is there anything Bill can do to prevent such a claim?
Duties and Rights of Wives and Husbands The laws sees marriage as a contract for life and for the benefit of each other The practical and legally recognized purposes for marriage: –Procreation –Raising children –Sexual needs –Economic needs –Companionship needs
Duties and Rights of Wives and Husbands Marital Consortium –Mutual obligations of wife and husband undertaken to fulfill the purposes of their union If either spouse suffers an injury that prevents fulfillment of these marital duties, the other can sue the party who caused the harm for damages for loss of consortium The most important duty of both spouses is to provide for the support, nurture, welfare, and education of their children
Duties and Rights of Wives and Husbands Parental Rights and Duties –Obligated by state law to support their children until they reach adulthood Exception – if a minor child takes legal measures to become emancipated –Both parents in a married couple have custody rights to their children Equal voice in decisions Adoption –Legal process that creates a parent-child relationship Same rights as they would to a child born of their union Governed by state law and must be approved by the courts
Duties and Rights of Wives and Husbands Property Rights and Duties –Property acquired during the marriage may be kept in the name of the husband, wife, or both Prenuptial Agreement –Legal contract resolving property and other claims that might result from marriage At times, spouses bring property into the marriage and want to keep it in their own names The partner-to-be gives up any future claim Useful when entering into a second or subsequent marriage