This introductory chapter sets out the book's purpose, namely to further our understanding of alimony by examining the history and current state of alimony law, theory, and practice, and then advancing a reconceptualization of alimony as a marriage buyout. Buyouts draw on a loose analogy to partnership—a compelling metaphor for contemporary marriage, with its principles of mutual contribution, reciprocal responsibility, shared fate, and default rules that assume equality of status. Buyouts do not depend on who files for divorce or who commits marital fault; nor do they aim to penalize a spouse who wants out or compel specific performance of the marriage promise. What buyouts do, however, is to replace alimony with a financial award consistent with norms of contemporary marriage; they provide a presumptive quantification formula that injects predictability and certainty into the law; and they go far in ensuring that primary caregivers are not thrown under the bus when their marriages end.
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