Friday, September 24, 2010

Are You and Your Fiancee Working From The Same Blueprint? The Pre-Nup Conversation as Marriage Insurance

Over at Gitlin Law Blog, Illinois family law attorney Joe Gitlin muses that marriages break down when (to use a metaphor which dates both him and me) the spouses aren't "building from the same blueprint".

This is consistent with my take: the crux of the decision to divorce isn't usually specifically about money, or sex, or intimacy, it's that moment, a year, a decade, four decades into the marriage, when one spouse says "This ISN'T the deal I thought I signed on for!"

I consult with folks frequently about whether they need, or want, a pre-marital agreement. The first part of that conversation explores whether the client, and the spouse-to-be, have ever talked seriously about the sorts of things that a pre-marital agreement might address: who's going to control the money? Are both spouses going to have accounts for "their own" money, and a joint "pot" out of which they'll pay joint expenses? Is the plan that one spouse will work, and the other will be a stay-at-home parent for a number of years? If one owns a house, what's the other's expectation as to what's going to happen with that house after the marriage?

Even if folks are okay with the "off-the-shelf" marriage contract, if they understand it, and each understands in advance what the other's expectations are, the chances that they'll manage a lasting marriage are increased.

With all respect to my friends in the floral, couture, and catering industries, marriage planning's less romantic, but more important than wedding planning, and almost nothing is less romantic than divorce court...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Parents and Pot: Michigan

It seems that under Michigan's Medical Marijuana Act, a parent may not be denied custody or visitation of a minor for acting in accordance with the act [i.e., possessing pot with a properly issued "registry identification card"] unless his or her behavior is such that it creates an "unreasonable danger to the minor which can be clearly articulated and substantiated".

The Michigan Court of Appeal, in addressing other issues under the MMMA, opined that their Act was "inartfully" [polite for "terribly"] drafted.

Given the vast proliferation of "medical marijuana clinics" "dispensaries", and "cooperatives" in California, I'll be extremely interested to see what California, which also has a MMA, will do with the issue in the context of child custody litigation.

A post-Labor Day [felt] fedora tip to Jeanne M. Hannah for the pointer.