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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Child Custody Speech Restrictions and the First Amendment

Can a court really tell a parent what to say and what not to say just because it controls the parent's custody arrangement? In a recent article, Professor Eugene Volokh argues that the First Amendment imposes some limits on the power. For a brief synopsis of the article, see this entry in the Family Law Prof Blog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Computer Justice

The newest trend in Australia seems to be computer-aided asset allocation. Fairfax Digital reports that a couple of Australian professors have come up with programs to assist in the division of marital property. A program called Family Winner allows spouses to designate what property each wants most, and then assigns the property according the spouses' priorities. Another program called SplitUp predicts the likely division of assets by the family court. The program is intended to assist in settlement mediation.

Divorce Protection

The media is full of stories about how to protect yourself in a divorce:

CNNMoney explains how to Protect Your Wallet in a Divorce.

MSNBC says that even before marriage you should make plans to Protect Your Business in a Divorce.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Contracts Professor on Child Support

As the ContractsProf Blog says, it's the odd child-support agreement that will turn on questions of contract law. Arze v. Arze [majority opinion; dissent] is such a case. The issue arose because the husband was given primary custody, but he signed a settlement agreement obligating him to pay child support. For a brief discussion of this case by a real law professor, see the post on ContractsProf Blog.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Wife Awarded Her Wedding Ring

Who should get the wife's wedding and engagement rings? In Wilson v. Wilson, the trial court held that the husband should because the rings were not a "completed gift." You will be relieved to learn that the Court of Appeals reversed that decision.

The trial court's ruling was based on evidence that the husband's parents had purchased the rings, and that the couple had agreed to reimburse them. The Court of Appeals held that "[c]ustom dictates that engagement and wedding rings are a gift from one future spouse to another spouse," and that such a gift is complete when "delivered." The Court of Appeals also reasoned that failure to fully reimburse the husband's parents would not justify awarding the rings to the husband -- especially since the husband was the only one who admitted being obligated to reimburse the parents.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Vindictive or Just Meaner?

Ben Stevens' South Carolina Family Law Blog reports that Health Magazine has published an article asking the question "Are Women Meaner than Men?"

This line of inquiry brings to mind William Blake's observation, "To generalize is to be an idiot." (Unfortunately, this observation is itself a generalization, but let's not quibble.)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Promise to Divorce Unenforceable

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a married man's promise to divorce his wife is not enforceable by means of a promissory estoppel claim. Norton v. McOsker, 407 F.3d 501 (1st Cir. 2005). The plaintiff claimed that a (now dead) married man had repeatedly promised her over 23 years that he would divorce his wife and marry the plaintiff. She claimed damages including the abandonment of a job and loss of the opportunity to marry and have children at a younger age. The court held that, based upon historical precedent, such a promise is "void against public policy."

The Norton court also held that Rhode Island does not recognize a cause of action for palimony. I am not aware of any Tennessee appellate decision on the issue, but a Tennessee Chancery Court has apparently rejected such a claim: Roach v. Buttons, 6 FLR (BNA) 2355 (Tenn. Ch. Ct. 1980) (cited in Michael L. Closen and Joan E. Maloney, The Health Care Surrogate Act in Illinois: Another Rejection of Domestic Partners' Rights, 19 S. Ill. U. L. J. 479, 501 n.135 (1995)).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Transfer of Custody as Discovery Sanction

Is transfer of custody an appropriate discovery sanction? The answer seems obvious, and the Iowa Court of Appeals has held that it is not. For an excerpt from the opinion and a link, see the Iowa Family Law blog entry on the case.