Chapter

The Financial Incidents of Family Dissolution

Grace Ganz Blumberg

in Cross Currents

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780198268208
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191683442 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.003.0017
The Financial Incidents of Family Dissolution

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This chapter deals with wealth redistribution when family members no longer share a common household. It traces the history of wealth redistribution at family breakdown in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century. Three forms of wealth distribution are discussed: property division, spousal support, and child support. Mid-century began with a relatively long-established formal law of divorce, which corresponded to a well-established social model of the ideal family. Because spousal fault was not legally monitored, divorce was in fact freely available if parties were willing to negotiate the conclusion of their marriage. Given limitations on female labor force participation, most divorces were initiated by husbands, who obtained their freedom with property settlements (even in the absence of any marital property regime) and continuing support obligations. Although this system occasionally engendered egregious unfairness, it often produced rough justice, and results were in any event not remarkably different than under the successor regime.

Keywords: United States; wealth redistribution; family; property division; spousal support; child support; divorce; spousal fault; marriage; female labor force

Chapter.  9533 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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