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Legal Considerations in Marriage and Divorce

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1 Legal Considerations in Marriage and Divorce
Chapter 18

2 **from the US Census Bureau
Statistics** **from the US Census Bureau

3 Data for U.S. in 2001 Number of marriages Marriage rate Divorce rate
2,327,000 Marriage rate 8.4 per 1,000 Divorce rate 4.0 per 1,000

4 Data for OH in 2002 Number of Marriages Number of Divorces
80,373 Number of Divorces 45,955 Divorce Rate 57%

5 More Statistics 43% of first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years The older the bride is, the longer the marriage will last

6 Ratio of Marriages to Divorces 2:1

7 Marriages took a sharp drop in 1998

8 Marital status for females 15 and over (1950-2004)
Shows that the population of unmarried women will soon surpass the number of married women.

9 The number of unmarried couple households (live-ins) is increasing

10 Where are the children living due to divorce?
Children living with only one parent has increased from 9% in 1960 to 29% in Of those 83% of the children live with the mother.

11 Legal Aspects for Marriage

12 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

13 DEBATE Ben, 16, has been dating Betsy for several months when he told his parents about the relationship. Ben’s father has been in business with Betsy’s 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 Ben’s tuition, cut off his allowance, and spent the funds saved for Ben’s college. He even threatened to spank Ben. Ultimately, with his mother’s backing, Ben brought suit against his father for “improper parenting.” Ben’s father’s 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.

14 DEBATE Make a persuasive argument that emphasized the legal reasons supporting Ben’s suit Children are maturing faster (more rights and responsibilities) in today’s society Parents should not be able to create an environment and prospective future for their offspring and then, without good cause, destroy their child’s present and future Make a persuasive argument that emphasized the legal reasons supporting his father’s 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

15 What’s 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?

16 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 1970’s 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

17 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

18 US Marriage Laws

19 Premarital Relationships
If pregnancy results and the responsible male can be identified, he will be required to pay the female’s medical bills and to contribute to the child’s 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

20 What’s Your Verdict? Grady and Cheryl are engaged to be married. Grady’s parents strongly disapprove of the up-coming marriage. They finally convince Grady to break the engagement. Can Cheryl bring a successful lawsuit against Grady’s parents for interfering with her contract to marry Grady? If you were Cheryl, would you still want to marry Grady?

21 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

22 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

23 What’s 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?

24 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)

25 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

26 What’s Your Verdict? Your friend Bill’s mother died three years ago. Now his father plans to remarry. Bill is concerned that his father’s fiancée will have a claim against the family home and other property. Is there anything Bill can do to prevent such a claim?

27 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

28 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

29 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

30 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

31 Assignment Page 284 #1-15

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