Friday, April 2, 2010

What Divorce Law is Doing to Marriage Part 5

The first chapter is called “Equitable Distribution In Theory”

“Equitable Distribution”

Excerpt #1

It works like this: During marriage, the property you acquire is considered yours, as if you were single. Come divorce, however, and everything changes. The law says that your ex had invisible interest in your property that suddenly became visible when you get divorced. Even though you can’t recall ever giving it to her.

This chapter then covers the history of common law up to where California eliminated no fault divorce in 1970. There is just so much material to cover that I am skipping these few pages. Although history is important, it doesn’t have an immediate impact on the man today.

Here is the 2nd to last paragraph of the chapter.

Insensibly, however, no-fault equitable distribution began to upset the delicate socio-economic balance of the traditional marriage contract. By inflating the wife’s homemaker contribution – from being the consideration for which she received the financial support of her husband into the automatic equivalent of his market labor – equitable distribution granted the wife a potential, post-divorce economic windfall. In most states, her homemaker contribution would not be offset by her “homemaker fault,” her violation of the non-economic obligations of her marriage contract. So, an emotionally unsupportive or abusive wife, by no more than her imputed economic function in the house hold, could no assert a claim, not just for marital support, but also for some 50% of her husband’s accumulated earnings, plus additional post-marital maintenance from him. Effectively, her husband was obliged to accumulate, during marriage, post-divorce property for a disloyal wife, gratis. The reciprocal dependencies of the marriage relationship, the intertwining socio-economic exchanges which, for better or for worse, worked to bind the traditional marriage together, were thus silently, but thoroughly, unraveled.