Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Article On The Failure Of The Community Property Reform

ArticlePictureElizabeth Ruth Carter (Professor, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Paul M. Hebert Law Center) recently published an article entitled, The Illusion of Equality: The Failure of the Community Property Reform to Achieve Management Equality, Indiana Law Review, Vol. 48, 2015. Provided below is an abstract of the article:

This Article argues that equal management does not exist in any important sense, and that the true goal of the equal management laws was never equality. Community property laws can no longer be honestly described as “a vehicle to ensure the devotion of the couple’s resources to this unique partnership’s purpose: the well-being and future prosperity of the family the couple creates” unless the wife and children are not considered a part of that family. Today, wives in community property states have no better rights than wives in separate property states. In some cases, their economic position may even be worse.

Part I describes the various allocative systems identified by sociologists and provides empirical support for the importance of egalitarian management. Part II describes the historical development of the two legally sanctioned management regimes in the United States: the separate property regime and the community property regime. Part II also examines how spouses actually managed their money in the pre-1970s era. Part III argues that equality was not achieved in fact or in law. First, Part III relies on quantitative and qualitative research to demonstrate that equality was not achieved in fact. Then, Part III examines the history of the reform era and argues that equality was not the primary goal of the legal reforms. Part IV elaborates on this thesis and examines how the laws in effect today perpetuate inequality.


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