Weezie and George Jefferson met in 1977, when she was 19 years old, was living with her parents and was working full time as a nurse’s aide in preparation for a nursing career. Shortly after the parties met, George persuaded Weezie to move into an apartment paid for by him and to quit her job. George “indicated” to Weezie that he would provide for her.

Early in 1979, the parties began living together in a “marriage-like” relationship in New Arkansas, holding themselves out to the public as husband and wife. In fact, George told Weezie that New Arkansas recognized common law marriage and that no ceremony was required. [In fact, New Arkansas, is NOT a common law marriage state.] Weezie assumed George’s surname as her own. Subsequently, in 1983 she gave birth to twin children, Lionel and Thomas, who were also given George’s surname. The parties filed joint income tax returns and maintained joint bank accounts asserting that they were husband and wife. George insured Weezie as his wife on his medical insurance policy. He also took out a life insurance policy on her as his wife, naming himself as the beneficiary.

In 1988, the family moved to New Texas so that George could pursue business opportunities. [New Texas IS a common law marriage state.]

In 1989, upon the tenth anniversary of their “marriage” George and Weezie decided to renew their marital vows before their family minister, their friends, and loved ones. In this ceremony they promised to love and serve one another “until death do us part.”

During their relationship, Weezie contributed child care and home making services, including cleaning, cooking, laundering, shopping, running errands, and maintaining the grounds surrounding the parties’ home. Additionally, Weezie contributed personal property to the relationship which she owned at the beginning of the relationship or acquired through gifts or purchases during the relationship. She served as hostess for George for social and business-related events. Periodically, between 1979 and 1985, Weezie cooked and cleaned for George and his employees while his business, a dry-cleaning service, was expanding to six stores in four states.

This incident is the last straw for Weezie. The next day, she took her kids and moved in with her parents back in New Arkansas and, two weeks later, filed for divorce in New Arkansas state court.

Even after the separation, Weezie continued to have trouble disciplining her son Thomas. Eight months ago these problems forced her to send Thomas to New Oklahoma to live with her brother Archie. Although Archie and his wife have two other children they have welcomed Thomas and assured him that he could stay with them as long as he wished.

Weezie has contacted you from New Arkansas telling you that she is broke and that she needs your legal assistance. Please analyze the following issues that may come up.

I ) George first intends to claim that there was never a marriage to begin with. Therefore, he will claim that Weezil will have no right to alimony of child support. Would George be correct? Explain.

2) Assuming that there is held to be a valid marriage, George intends to claim that the New Arkansas court has no jurisdiction to dissolve the marriage because he lives in New Texas. Is he correct?Explain.

3) Assuming that there is held to be a valid marriage, George intends to fight against the divorce by claiming that no legitimate grounds for divorce exist. Are there grounds in this case upon which Weezie will likely obtain her divorce? Explain.

4) George intends to seek custody of Lionel and Thomas. He especially believes that he should be entitled to custody of Thomas because his mother, in any case, has sent him to live in a different state and that he should certainly have priority over Archie in raising Thomas. Please analyze the strengths and weaknesses of this claim.

5) Weezie has told you that she intends to sue George on behalf of Thomas for assault and battery based on the incident described above. George will claim that he has the defense of reasonable discipline. Will the lawsuit likely succeed? Explain.