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The Marriage BuyoutThe Troubled Trajectory of U.S. Alimony Law$
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Cynthia Lee Starnes

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814708248

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814708248.001.0001

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(p.149) 8 A Marital Partnership Model

(p.149) 8 A Marital Partnership Model

Alimony as Buyout

(p.149) 8 A Marital Partnership Model
The Marriage Buyout

Cynthia Lee Starnes

NYU Press

This chapter begins by examining the partnership metaphor that inspired the no-fault reforms almost forty years ago. It argues that no-fault divorce laws fail to recognize both the common case in which partnership business continues after the dissociation of a partner and the critical distinction between dissolution, windup, and termination. The remedy is not to scrap partnership, but to expand it; not to abandon the powerful, egalitarian, gender-neutral principles that drew no-fault reformers in the first place, but to enrich our understanding of those principles. The chapter then advances an enriched partnership model that analogizes alimony to a buyout. An analogy to partnership buyouts provides a conceptual rationale for alimony lacking in current law, and an explanation for the common intuition that alimony should depend on marriage duration and spousal earning disparities. The buyout analogy does all this in an egalitarian, gender-neutral framework that casts caregivers as equal stakeholders in marriage rather than victims of marriage.

Keywords:   divorce, alimony, partnership model, buyout, no-fault divorce laws, Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act

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