Fall 2012
Amy Matsui
LAW 636-002
Thurs. 7:30-10:10 p.m.
Room TBD
Office Hours: By appointment
Phone: (202) 352-7866
LAW (4th ed. 2009). Readings assigned from the casebook are designated “CB.” You should be
prepared to discuss the problems that are specifically listed; otherwise just skim the problems.
Supplemental readings, which are required readings, are designated as “Supp.” Supplemental
readings will be either posted on MyWCL or distributed in class.
Please check MyWCL regularly for updates and notices. I will regularly post articles or other
materials that may be of interest on MyWCL, with the designation “Optional Readings.”
Grades for this class will be based on your class participation (10%), a written assignment
(15%), and an in-class final exam (75%).
You will be expected to be prepared for class, and to participate in class discussions and
activities throughout the semester. In addition, you will be required to make one short (5 to 10
minute) presentation. Most people choose to brief a case, but you may also report on a “current
event” in family law or a topic that we don’t otherwise cover in-depth.
The 2-3 page written assignment will be due on October 11, by the beginning of class. I will
distribute the assignment on September 27.
The final exam, which will be a 3-hour, in-class exam, will be held on December 12, from 6-9
p.m. Details about the midterm and final format will be provided later in the semester.
Please notify me in advance should you be unable to attend. Please remember that under the
ABA rules, you need to attend at least 75% of class sessions. For a class that meets once a week,
this means that if you have more than three excused absences, you may not receive credit for
the class.
Upon advance request, class sessions can be audiotaped. If you otherwise need particular
accommodations for the class sessions, exam administration, or any other administrative issue,
please let me know and we will consult with the Academic Affairs Office or Registrar’s Office
as needed.
Please be considerate of your fellow students, and refrain from emailing, texting, IM’ing or
surfing the Internet during class time.
Class 1 (Aug. 23)
When Are Adult Partners A Family?
CB 3-26
Supp. Ellen McCarthy, “If You Don’t Get Married, It’s Hard to Get a Divorce,” Wash. Post (Oct.
2, 2011)
Unmarried Cohabitants
CB 259-283
Supp. Jason DeParle, “Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do,’” N.Y. Times (July 14, 2012)
Supp. Pew Research Center, “Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married – A Record Low” (Dec.
14, 2011)
Class 2 (Aug. 30)
Marital Property and Duties of Support
CB 36-55
Problem 1, p. 41; Problems 1 & 2, p. 45; Problem 1, p. 53
Daily Management and Control of Wealth
CB 65-82
Class 3 (Sept. 6)
Marriage and its Formalities
CB 153-160; mid-page 166-178; 208-219
Problems 1-4, p. 178
Supp. Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Marriage Bureau, Information for Marriage
License Application
Legal Recognition of Informal Families
CB 243-258
Problem 3, p. 253; Problem 1, p. 258
Supp. Duane Gang, “Reese Witherspoon’s Dad Sued for Bigamy,” USA Today (May 1, 2012)
Class 4 (Sept. 13)
Substantive Restrictions on Marriage
CB 179-186, 220-233
Supp. Jonathan Turley Blog, “Sister Wives: Prosecutors Drop Investigation Of Brown Family
And Promise Not To Prosecute For Polygamy” (May 31, 2012)
Same-Sex Marriage – and Not Marriage
CB 186-204
Supp. Schwarzenegger v. Perry, 109-135
Supp. A8520-2011:Relates to the Ability to Marry (June 24, 2011)
Class 5 (Sept. 20)
DOMA and Conflict of Law
Supp. Gill v. OPM, 11-19, 23-30
Supp. Letter from United States Office of Personnel Management to Blue Cross Blue Shield re
Karen Golinski v. US. Office of Personnel Management and John Berry, Director (March 12,
Supp. Statement of the Attorney General on Litigation Involving the Defense of Marriage Act
(February 23, 2011)
CB 234-241
CB 164-top of 166
Supp. Department of Homeland Security, Memorandum re Prosecutorial Discretion (June 27,
Class 6 (Sept. 27)
Spousal Contracts During Marriage
CB 94-109
Premarital Agreements
CB 691-717
Problems 2 & 4, pp. 715-716
Supp. Bonnie Rochman, “Alas, Gay Marriage Will Yield Gay Divorce: Prenups Are In Order,”
TIME (July 29, 2011)
Written Assignment distributed
Class 7 (Oct. 4)
Divorce Grounds and Procedures
CB 291-328, 330-top of 334, mid-page 336-354
Problems 1& 2, p. 327-328
Supp. Complaint for Absolute Divorce
Class 8 (Oct. 11)
Written Assignment Due
Tentative: Guest Lecture
Domestic Violence
CB 109-134
Lawyers and the Divorce Process
CB 739-middle of page 757
Problem 5, p. 754
Class 9 (Oct. 18)
Property Division
CB 354-386, bottom of p. 387-392
Problem 1, p. 372; Problem 5, p. 373, Problem 6, p. 386
“New” Property
CB 422-top of 441; 453-463
Class 10 (Oct. 25)
Spousal Support
CB 393-411, 414-415; 419-422
Problems pp. 418-419
Supp. Lisette Alvarez, “In Age of Dual Incomes, Alimony Payers Prod States to Update Laws,”
N.Y. Times (March 4, 2012)
Child Support
CB 465-483; 490-505
Problems 1, 3 p. 505
Class 11 (Nov. 1)
Separation Agreements
CB 717-725
Supp. Pamela Paul, “The Un-Divorced,” N.Y. Times (July 30, 2010)
Modification, Termination, Enforcement, and Tax Treatment of Orders
CB 513-539, 543-563; 566-574
Problems, p. 540 & 574
Class 12 (Nov. 8)
Child Custody
CB 583-589; 594-625
Problems 1-3, p. 605
Supp. California Senate Bill 1476 (Feb. 24, 2012)
Supp. Best Interests of the Child statutes
Class 13 (Nov. 15)
What Makes Parents Unfit?
CB 625-641; 644-660
Visitation and its Enforcement
CB 660-675; 680-686
Problems, p. 675; pp. 686-687
Supp. Child Custody/Access Mediation Program, Montgomery County Circuit Court, Sample
Parenting Agreement Language
Class 14 (Monday Nov. 27)
Guest Lecture (Tentative)
Alternative Dispute Resolution
CB 757-772; 781-791
Problem 1, p. 787
Supp. ADR Taxonomy Chart