Protect Yourself from Legal Issues on the Day of Love

What’s Love Got To Do With It? While Valentine’s Day is all about Love, it’s not always a bed of roses. Below are some interesting legal issues on this day of love.

Divorce. January is traditionally the highest month for filing new divorces. Holiday stress, financial strain and just being together for an extended period of time often brings lingering issues to the forefront resulting in a divorce.   There may also be a tax benefit to remaining married until January 1st and filing your return as a married couple. Of course not everyone gets it done on January one and the high rate of divorce filings tends to continue through mid February right through Valentine’s Day which for some reason seems to be a favorite day to file for divorce.

Calling it Off  Ending even a casual relationship can be tricky if you have been together for some time or lived together.  Dividing up the CD collection is easy compared to figuring out who gets the dog or Grandma’s lamp. Everyone has heard of a pre-nuptial agreement in the context of a marriage but few people know about Cohabitation agreements.   If you are going to move in and mix up your stuff get an exit strategy everyone can live with down on paper.   How’s that for a romantic intro to your first apartment together?

Think Hard Before You Hit Record.   People sometimes do things in a fit of romantic passion that they later regret. A couple in a healthy relationship may think it would be fun to spice up their sex life by videoing themselves in various acts of carnal passion. Just remember not all relationships last forever and do you trust this person not to use this material against you down the road. Unfortunately, all too often jilted lovers will post intimate videos of their ex partners on line for the world to see as an act of spiteful revenge.   More and more states, including Missouri and Illinois, are considering Revenge Porn laws that would make it a crime to publish such material without the consent of your partner. The easier solution, exercise some front end judgment and avoid a bad situation down the line.

Wrongful Transmission of a Sexually Transmitted Disease. For unmarried folks, not disclosing that you have an STD infection could result in your being served with a civil law suit. Knowingly transmitting the HIV virus is a serious crime in most states.

On Line Dating Liability. As online dating becomes more widely accepted and prolific, we are seeing lawsuits brought against the companies who are responsible for the online hook up. These suits often allege that the company failed to properly screen their participants and allowed criminals or deviants to prey on other members.

Alienation of Affection. Missouri is one of nine states that recognizes a civil cause for the tort of “Alienation of Affection”.   In these cases a jilted spouse can bring a law suit against the person who causes their spouse to lose their affection (i.e. the other woman/man). In one case the Defendant Betty Devin, an alleged mistress of Donald Puryear, was ordered to pay more than $10 million in compensatory damages and an additional $20 million in punitive damages to Carol Puryear, the (now) ex-wife. According to her attorney, the jilted wife was “not about the money” but rather wanting accountability for the couple’s actions. (Talk about an affair to remember!) These types of actions are almost never filed as they are viewed as archaic remnants of a legal system that tried to enforce outdated societal norms.   It also fails to take into account the actions of the cheating spouse and treats them as if they are not responsible for their own actions.   That being said its still in the books, so if you want to make your cheating spouse’s paramour miserable, there is a legal option.

Law Suit for Seduction. Missouri recognizes a cause of action for the tort of “Seduction”.   In a law suit for Seduction a female Plaintiff can sue the man who persuaded a woman to surrender her chastity. One of the elements that must be proven is that the man made a false misrepresentation to the woman in order to entice her to surrender her chastity. Many of the old cases in the books involve a promise of future marriage that never materializes. This is another great example of one of those archaic relics in our legal system based out outdated societal norms.

Matters of the Heart. Paxil, Zoloft and other antidepressants (SSRIs), are typically prescribed to patients for depression and related disorders. However, we now know that taking these drugs during pregnancy, particularly the first trimester, can cause a baby to be born with serious congenital heart defects. The FDA requires warnings of the most serious potential side effects to be posted in “black boxes” on the packaging. Unfortunately, a number of patients took these drugs during early pregnancy without receiving proper warning. We’ve been involved in many of these pharmaceutical litigation cases, representing the uninformed mother and her baby