Saturday, June 23, 2012
From the Wall Street Journal:
There will likely be no changes this year to the most contentious aspect of New York's 2010 divorce-reform package because a report analyzing its impact has been delayed again, officials and lawmakers said.
State legislators said they were relying on a report from the independent Law Revision Commission to guide any attempt to adjust a law that transformed temporary alimony awards as part of a package of legislation best known for making New York the last state to have no-fault divorce.
Read more here.
Friday, June 22, 2012
From Anne-Marie Slaughter writing for the Atlantic:
Last spring, I flew to Oxford to give a public lecture. At the request of a young Rhodes Scholar I know, I’d agreed to talk to the Rhodes community about “work-family balance.” I ended up speaking to a group of about 40 men and women in their mid-20s. What poured out of me was a set of very frank reflections on how unexpectedly hard it was to do the kind of job I wanted to do as a high government official and be the kind of parent I wanted to be, at a demanding time for my children (even though my husband, an academic, was willing to take on the lion’s share of parenting for the two years I was in Washington). I concluded by saying that my time in office had convinced me that further government service would be very unlikely while my sons were still at home. The audience was rapt, and asked many thoughtful questions. One of the first was from a young woman who began by thanking me for “not giving just one more fatuous ‘You can have it all’ talk.” Just about all of the women in that room planned to combine careers and family in some way. But almost all assumed and accepted that they would have to make compromises that the men in their lives were far less likely to have to make.
The striking gap between the responses I heard from those young women (and others like them) and the responses I heard from my peers and associates prompted me to write this article. Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with, even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career, because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation. But when many members of the younger generation have stopped listening, on the grounds that glibly repeating “you can have it all” is simply airbrushing reality, it is time to talk.
I still strongly believe that women can “have it all” (and that men can too). I believe that we can “have it all at the same time.” But not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured. My experiences over the past three years have forced me to confront a number of uncomfortable facts that need to be widely acknowledged—and quickly changed.
Read more here.
Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn
Thursday, June 21, 2012
From the Chicago Tribube:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tables have turned in U.S. divorce courts with more women paying their former husbands alimony and child support than ever before, according to U.S. lawyers.
As women climb higher up the career ladder and outpace their exes in salary, when love goes wrong and marriages break up they are being compelled to contribute to the livelihood of their former spouses.
And some are not happy about it.
More than half, 56 percent, of divorce lawyers across the United States have seen an increase in mothers paying child support in the last three years and 47 percent have noted a hike in the number of women paying alimony, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Read more here.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
With women edging up to become half the workforce, claims of women’s economic empowerment now abound. But the reality is that gender equality has not been mainstreamed. The truly eye-opening new data is how marginalized and partial many women’s attachment to the labor force continues to be. Simultaneously, another misleading narrative also circulates — that of separateness — of disconnected individualism. In the context of intimate partnership and feminist legal theory, this Article pushes back against these accounts and demonstrates their problematic link. Contrary to the storylines, many women’s lives in fact remain characterized by deep bonds with partners, children, and extended family, and these connections tend to make women less economically powerful. This vulnerability is recurrently developed inside couple relationships, particularly because labor division still often translates into women specializing in unpaid work.
In this Article I explore how a feminist family law should respond to the connections and risks that come with intimate partnering. I contend that existing intimate partner economics law misses opportunities for strengthening bonds and unfairly distributes the risks and rewards of partnering by turning asymmetry into gendered inequality. This stems from law’s false assumptions that partners are situated equally and are largely unconnected. In contrast, expanding the lens from my earlier work on partnership marriage, I propose that for both unmarried and married couples, law should be based on economic sharing behavior and the benefits and burdens it recurrently produces. As one example of its application, I overview how the theory translates into law when couples break up. This serves to define, modernize and advance the partnership ideal that has so far only been partially developed and implemented in law. I situate my proposal and argue for its appeal in what I identify as related pluralist feminist and family law agendas. This framework is important for sex equality. By recognizing and valuing care work within the family economy, it mitigates the economic risks of sharing that tend to be more acute for women. Yet it resists assignment of the care-giving role to women by recognizing sharing whatever the pattern, thus supporting a range of choices. The sharing model serves equality in another critical way as well, as its principles apply across different forms of couple relationships, whether married or cohabiting, same sex or opposite sex.
This article offers concrete ways to modernize and advance existing laws governing the economics of couple relationships through fuller development and implementation of a “partnership of equals” theory. This is much needed because contemporary law does not adequately protect against financial vulnerabilities produced by partnering, and does not fairly share its benefits. As a result, law contributes to inequalities across a range of groups: between men and women; between cohabitants and married couples; and between same sex and opposite sex couples. Accordingly, I recommend a shift in law’s foundation and application. Couple’s law should be based on economic sharing behavior, broadly and specifically defined to include decision making as well as labor contributions, and should apply to unmarried as well as married couples. Further, law must recognize that sharing activities often importantly shape each partner’s financial situation, including, to an extent, earning power. Drawing on this foundation, I describe specific ways to actualize these principles in legal practice, focusing on when couples break up. Economic advantages and disadvantages that were developed jointly should be shared. At the same time, however, some financial resources are not or are not completely shaped by partnering. In addition, sharing patterns can vary, with the vast majority of married couples being strongly economically intertwined and cohabitants being widely variable. So, for all intimate partnerships, I propose that the legal standard should be an assessment of the degree of economic interdependence in the relationship with resulting rules for sharing property and income streams that vary accordingly. As ripe arenas for extending the reach of the partnership model I offer, for married couples, I focus on alimony and the recent push for guidelines and caps, and for cohabitants, I briefly consider support obligations and the nascent shift in U.S. law toward a joint property regime.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Margaret Ryznar (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law) and Anna Stępień-Sporek (University of Gdańsk School of Law) have posted The Harmonization of Matrimonial Property Regimes on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Although family law often differs by jurisdiction, harmonization efforts would make such state laws uniform. In the United States, the major obstacle to the harmonization of family law is the federal system. In the European Union, on the other hand, efforts to harmonize the family laws of member states are increasingly successful. This significant experiment in harmonization offers lessons into the roles of jurisdictional autonomy, cultural relativism, and legal absolutes in society, all of growing importance in an increasingly mobile society and in light of the European Union Commission’s pending proposal for harmonization of matrimonial property regimes.