Family Law Legal Research Blog

FAMILY LAW: Laws of State of Domicile Govern Divorce of Couple Married in Another State

Posted by Sandra L. Thomas on Mon, May 11, 2015 @ 16:05 PM

The Lawletter Vol 40 No 3

Sandra Thomas, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

     In the first decision in the nation to address the issue, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has held that an Alabama trial court was under no obligation to enforce the covenant-marriage contract entered into between the parties at the time of their marriage in Louisiana where the parties subsequently moved to Alabama and sought a divorce in the Alabama court. Blackburn v. Blackburn, No. 2131043, 2015 WL 1608431 (Ala. Civ. App. Apr. 10, 2015) (not yet released for publication).

     In January 2013, Mr. Blackburn filed a complaint for divorce in an Alabama trial court, alleging as grounds incompatibility of temperament and an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Several days later, Mrs. Blackburn filed an answer and counterclaim also seeking a divorce and also alleging incompatibility of temperament, and further alleging that the husband had committed acts of domestic violence.

Read More

Topics: family law, domiciliary state, subject-matter jurisdiction

FAMILY LAW: Spousal Support in No-Guideline States

Posted by Brett R. Turner on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 @ 08:03 AM

Brett Turner, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

     No field of family law is as diverse or controversial as that of support payments made by one spouse for the support of the other after a marriage has ended in divorce. The law in this area is so divided that the states cannot even agree on the name of the payment. Some states use the traditional name, "alimony." Other states follow the lead of the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act and call the payment "maintenance." Still other states call the payment "spousal support."

     Disagreement over the label is matched by disagreement over the purpose of the payments. Most states recognize several different types of spousal support. Traditional support is awarded after a long-term marriage so that the less wealthy spouse does not suffer a drop in living standard. Rehabilitative support is awarded when it will help the less wealthy spouse to develop a higher earning capacity. It differs subtly from time-limited support, which is awarded when the marriage was not long enough to justify a traditional support award. Reimbursement support is awarded when one spouse made contributions during the marriage to the other's earning capacity, such as by supporting a spouse through graduate or professional school. Some states even recognize transitional support to bridge the gaps between other forms of support.

Read More

Topics: family law, spousal support, no-guidelines states

FAMILY LAW: Modification of Alimony Agreement

Posted by Gale Burns on Mon, Feb 2, 2015 @ 13:02 PM

The Lawletter Vol 39 No 11

Sandra Thomas, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

     The Appeals Court of Massachusetts has affirmed a trial court's dismissal of a complaint filed by a former husband seeking to decrease or terminate his alimony obligation because he had reached "full retirement age," defined under Massachusetts statute as "the payor's normal retirement age to be eligible to receive full retirement benefits under the United States Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program," i.e., Social Security. Lalchandani v. Roddy, No. 13-P-1988, 2014 WL 7447305, at *4 n.6 (Mass. App. Ct. Jan. 5, 2015) (quoting Mass. Gen. Laws ["M.G.L."] ch. 208, § 48 (inserted by St.2011, c. 124, § 3)).

     The parties divorced in 1992 after more than 20 years of marriage. The separation agreement entered into between the parties was incorporated, but not merged, into the judgment of divorce and thus retained independent legal significance. Included in the agreement was a provision that the husband would pay $4,333.33 per month to the wife as alimony until the death of either party or the wife's remarriage. The agreement allowed the parties to modify its terms by written agreement. In 1996, the wife filed a complaint for contempt against the husband for, among other things, unpaid alimony.

Read More

Topics: family law, modification of alimony agreement, retirement

Windsor Update: Not with a Whimper, but a Bang—U.S. Supreme Court Accepts Same-Sex Marriage Cases

Posted by Gale Burns on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 @ 10:01 AM

Brett R. Turner, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

     Just a few months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review over two same-sex marriage cases, creating a possibility that same-sex marriage might become the law of the land through a series of denials of certiorari, without any further opinions from the Court.

      But the Sixth Circuit then rejected the concept of a broad federal right to same-sex marriage. On January 16, 2015, the Supreme Court accepted petitions for certiorari in four separate same-sex marriage cases, thus agreeing to address directly the Circuit Court split and to decide whether federal law requires recognition of same-sex marriages. The cases will together constitute perhaps the highest-profile litigation in the Court's 2015 term.

     The four cases are Obergefell v. Hodges from Ohio, Tanco v. Haslam from Tennessee, DeBoer v. Snyder from Michigan, and Bourke v. Beshear from Kentucky. All were decided in the Sixth Circuit, which is presently the only Circuit holding that states may restrict the right of same-sex persons to marry.

Read More

Topics: family law, Windsor update, same-sex marriage, certiorari granted

Windsor Update: The Sixth Circuit Creates A Real Circuit Court Split On Same-Sex Marriage

Posted by Gale Burns on Fri, Nov 7, 2014 @ 14:11 PM

Brett Turner, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

           In a long-awaited decision, the Sixth Circuit has ruled on a series of cases involving attacks upon state laws and constitutional provisions preventing recognition of same-sex marriages. DeBoer v. Snyder, No.14-1431 (6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2014). Unlike the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits, the Sixth Circuit held by a 2-1 majority that such provisions are not unconstitutional.

           The Sixth Circuit ruling is grounded solidly in the fundamental principle of respect for the democratic process. The court began with the premise that all civilized nations refused to recognize same-sex marriage until the very recent past. It recognized that law on this subject was changing rapidly even before the federal courts became involved and that the trend was strongly in favor of increased recognition. Indeed, "[f]rom the vantage point of 2014, it would now seem, the question is not whether American law will allow gay couples to marry; it is when and how that will happen." Slip op. at 7.

Read More

Topics: Windsor update, split amoung courts, Sixth Circuit

Windsor Update: Not With A Bang, But A Whimper

Posted by Gale Burns on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

The Supreme Court Denies Review of the Fourth and Tenth Circuit Decisions

Read More

Windsor Update: A Split Finally Develops on Whether States Can Constitutionally Ban Same-Sex Marriage

Posted by Gale Burns on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 @ 17:09 PM

Brett Turner, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group 

Read More

Topics: legal research, family law, Brett turner, Windsor, constitutional ban of same-sex marriage, Robicheaux v. Caldwell, E.D. Louisiana, held restrictions are constitutional, sexual orientation not a suspect class, restriction directly related to linking children w, relied on democratic process, held constitutional restrictions not motivated by

Windsor Update: The Seventh Circuit Rules

Posted by Gale Burns on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 @ 13:09 PM

Brett Turner, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

Read More

Topics: legal research, family law, Brett turner, Windsor, Baskin v. Bogan, 7th Circuit, Wisconsin and Indiana constitutions implicated, court held restrictions lack rational basis, sexual orientation is suspect class, Wisconsin argued tradition and democratic process

Windsor Update: Kitchen v. Herbert Headed to the Supreme Court

Posted by Gale Burns on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 @ 16:07 PM

Brett Turner, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

Read More

Topics: legal research, Brett turner, Windsor update, Kitchen v. Herbert, writ of certiorari

Windsor Update: Bostic v. Schaefer—The Fourth Circuit Rules

Posted by Gale Burns on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 @ 15:07 PM

Brett Turner, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

Read More

Topics: legal research, Fourth Circuit, family law, Brett turner, Windsor update, Bostic v. Schaefer, same-sex marriage a fundamental right, no compelling state interest, Niemeyer dissent

Seven ways outsourcing your legal research can empower your practice