The current research had three main purposes: (a) compare and evaluate income-to-needs ratios based on 1999 Minnesota actual court decisions and five alternative strategies in the legal literature for achieving more equitable outcomes than current procedures (b) evaluate the degree to which five alternative strategies for dissolving the economic partnership of marriage and 1999 Minnesota actual court decisions provided adequate incomes for male and female-headed households based on the needs standard of poverty level income guidelines (c) explore the influences of household/gender (male or female-headed household), pre-divorce total gross income, and length of marriage on the post-divorce incomes produced by the five alternative strategies and the 1999 Minnesota actual court decisions. Post-divorce households’ “economic sufficiency” was explored after the economic partnership had been legally dissolved, at the date of divorce.
The term economic sufficiency was used as opposed to “economic well being,” because economic well-being addresses time, money resources, and factors such as parental education, work history, the dollar value of durable goods, and social support that were beyond the scope of this dissertation (Rettig & Leichtentritt, 2000). Expressions such as adequacy, sufficiency, and reasonableness are all different terms to describe the incomes families need to live.
These different terms are all value judgments that are widely debated (Bernstein, Brocht, Gunderson & Bernstein, 2000). For the purposes of this research, the term income sufficiency was used to refer to the degree to which families have enough income for their financial needs, based on a national standard for a minimum subsistence level of living, poverty level income guidelines. Research Questions There were three research questions in the current study: First, how equitable were the income-to-needs ratios of the actual court order and the alternative strategies and how do they compare to one another? Second, do the strategies provide adequate incomes for male and female-headed households based on the needs standard of poverty level income guidelines?
Third, what effects do strategy, household/gender, length of marriage, and pre-divorce total gross income have on post-divorce income-to-needs ratios? Review of Literature The literature and research studies reviewed include the background information of descriptions of divorce procedures, historical origins of divorce law and spousal maintenance, and the current practices for ordering spousal maintenance. The background information is followed by the principles for ordering spousal maintenance, problems with the current methods, and alternative proposals suggested in the literature to improve current practices. Finally, the position of the current study within the literature and potential contributions will be highlighted.