Top 10 Divorce Rulings

Family law varies from state to state, however, historically the US Supreme Court and other high level courts have handed down some pivotal divorce rulings. The following is the very interesting Huff Post list of top 10 divorce cases.

  1. Diemer v. Diemer, 1960, established that “refusal to have sex with one’s spouse constitutes abandonment of the marriage.”
  2. See v. See, 1966, established community property in California as the default such that “if a spouse has “comingled” separate and community property in one account, and suggests that an asset acquired during the marriage is “separate property,” he or she has the burden of proving that there was a deficit in the community funds when the asset was purchased. If such a deficit cannot be proven, the asset is considered “community property.””
  3. In Kulko v. Superior Court,1977, “a father from New York sent his children to visit their mother in California, who then attempted to modify their custody agreement under California law. The Supreme Court held that state courts do not have jurisdiction over nonresidents. Therefore, the act of sending a child to a different state to live with or visit a custodial parent does not give jurisdiction to that state over the parent who does not live there.”
  4. Orr v. Orr, 1979, established alimony to be paid by wives to husbands as well as by husbands to wives.  The prior statute violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
  5. In McCarty v. McCarty, 1981, the Supreme Court overturned the California Supreme Court by stating that a military pension was the property of the individual and not marital.  “One year later, Congress passed the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), which effectively overturned the Supreme Court decision.”  The new law stated that “military retirement can be considered joint property based on the divorcing couple’s state of residence.”
  6. Marvin v. Marvin, 1981, the California Supreme Court“held that contracts between unmarried, cohabiting couples are enforceable, as long as they are not based on the rendition of sexual services. The case held that cohabitating couples could establish palimony claims without being married. In this particular case, Michelle Marvin was not awarded “palimony” because she could not prove the existence of a contract.
  7. The court in Majauskas v. Majauskas, 1984, found that vested pensions are marital community property and devised the formula for calculating how these funds should be divided.
  8. In re Marriage of Burgess, 1996, established that “if a custodial parent wishes to relocate to another city or state with his or her children, he or she is required to prove that relocating is in the “best interest” of the minor children. The Superior Court ruled that “a parent seeking to relocate does not bear a burden of establishing that the move is ‘necessary’ as a condition of custody,” unless the non-custodial parent has proven that the move would cause a “detrimental impact” upon the parent-child relationship. If the detriment is proven large enough, the court would decide if a change in custody is appropriate.”  It must be noted here that most states have their own statues on this issue which controls how relocation is handled by the courts in that particular jurisdiction.
  9. Troxel v. Granville, 2000, “effectively eliminated grandparent visitation rights when the parent objects to the visitation.”  Again, it must be noted that the states have statutes on point which prevail on this issue.
  10. 10.  Gonzales v. Munoz, 2007, established that “under the Domestic Violence Protection Act, a trial court is authorized to make custody and visitation orders…when the orders are necessary for the safety of the child…[I]f the party who has obtained the restraining order has established a parent and child relationship and the other party has not established that relationship, the court may award temporary sole legal and physical custody to the party to whom the restraining order was issued and may make an order of no visitation to the other party pending the establishment of a parent and child relationship between the child and the other party.”