American Law Institute

The current study found that 1999 Minnesota actual court decisions compared to any of the other strategies, allocated the highest income-to-needs ratios to males and the lowest income-to-needs ratios to females in the sample. Considering that 90% of the primary custodians in the sample were female, custodial households had less income to meet their needs, based on the standard of poverty level guidelines, than non-custodial households. The actual court order also created the highest percentage of females living at poverty level, and below the poverty level.

Comparisons of the strategies found that the income sharing formula was the most different from the actual court order, with Singer and the PSA formulas following. The Kansas and Maricopa formulas were almost identical to one another and most similar to the actual court order. Male and female income-to-needs ratios were more equivalent at the lowest pre-divorce total gross income level for each strategy, and were not statistically different for the PSA and Kansas formulas. Male and female income-to-needs ratios were most discrepant at the highest pre-divorce total gross income level and were statistically different for each strategy.

Length of marriage did not seem to influence the strategies except for the Maricopa formula. Couples who had been married the longest (20 or more years) had the most equivalent income-to-needs ratios with the Maricopa formula, and were not statistically different. The current study provided contributions to the literature despite the limitations of the study. Results of the current study suggest that alternative strategies can improve equity for post-divorce households. Change is needed in the practices of allocating incomes in Minnesota divorces, if financial equity is a value that should be realized.

Future research should continue to explore fairness and equity issues in allocating income after divorce. Although it was possible to compare the degree to which each strategy produced equitable income-to-needs ratios, it was difficult to determine the fairness of each strategy for actual households. Future research should address many issues, including, ethnicity, joint physical custody cases, and financial implications of different time limits for the alternative strategies.

References

American Law Institute (2001). Principles of the law of family dissolution: Analysis and recommendations. Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy, 8, 1-86. American Law Institute (2002). Principles of the law of family dissolution: Analysis and recommendations. Newark, NJ: Matthew Bender & Co. , Inc. American Lawyer Media. (2002). A shift from divorce ‘fault’ to economic ‘need’ laws are gender-neutral, but males treated differently. National Law Journal, 24, B9. Arditti, J. (1997). Women, divorce, and economic risk. Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 35, 79-89.