Graham v. Graham
33 F.Supp. 936 (E.D. Mich. 1940)

Facts:

  • This is a suit by a man against his former wife upon the following written agreement by the parties:
    • “…For valuable consideration Margrethe Graham hereby agrees to pay to Sidney Graham the sum of Three Hundred ($300.00) Dollars per month each and every month hereafter until the parties hereto no longer desire this arrangement to continue.”

Issue:
Whether an agreement for the wife to provide support for the husband is valid.

Holding:
No. Against public policy.

Reasoning:

  • “Even if the contract is otherwise within the contractual power of the parties it is void because it contravenes public policy.”
  • “While there appears to be no Michigan decision directly in point, the principle is well stated in the Restatement of the Law of Contracts:
    • A bargain between married persons or persons contemplating marriage to change the essential incidents of marriage is illegal.”
  • Here, as a result of the marriage contract, the court found that a husband has a duty to support and live with his wife.
  • Basically, this case said that you can’t contract around the public policy of requiring the husband to support the wife.
  • Prof: This case about gender roles is probably not good law.

Rule: A bargain between married persons or persons contemplating marriage to change the essential incidents of marriage is illegal.