Post-divorce income

Descriptive analyses on the income-to-needs ratios showed another problem with the data. The income-to-needs ratios were not normally distributed, which is an assumption for repeated measures MANOVA, Transformation calculations were necessary in order to normalize the data. Skewness and kurtosis are measures used to explore the normality of a distribution. Skewness is a measure of the asymmetry of a distribution, which for a normal distribution is symmetric, and has a value of zero when skewness is absent.

Positively skewed distributions have a long right tail, where as negatively skewed distributions have a long left tail. Kurtosis measures the extent to which a distribution is flatter (negative kurtosis) or more peaked (positive kurtosis) than expected for a normal distribution. A log transformation improved the skewness and kurtosis of the data, but two cases that had negative income-to-needs ratios were not transformed, because logs cannot be computed for negative numbers. It was necessary to add five to all the income-to-needs ratios before taking the log, in order to adjust for the lowest income-to-needs ratios.

However, the resulting distributions still displayed pronounced skewness and kurtosis, so the log was taken a second time. This produced skewness and kurtosis measures that were closer to zero than values for the original data (see Table 2). Results of the study suggested that a change is needed in the practices of allocating incomes in Minnesota divorces if the distributive justice principle of equity need, and contributions are values that should be realized. Singer and the PSA formulas could provide the most equitable post-divorce income sharing, when considering the equity principle.

The actual court orders and the income sharing formula produced the most discrepant income-to-needs ratios. The distributive justice principle of need was a value that could be realized using Singer’s and the PSA formulas because they produced the fewest households below and at the poverty level, compared to the actual court order. A change in practices was also suggested if the contributions principle from distributive justice theory should recognize a partnership model that acknowledges incomes based on both market and household labor contributions to the accumulated wealth of the marriage.

The longer the length of marriage, the more money income and household labor production of in-kind income have been contributed to the marital partnership. The Maricopa formula was the only strategy that accounted for the length of marriage in allocating post-divorce income. Future research should pursue certain limitations in the current study beginning with the fairness of allocating incomes in states other than Minnesota, and explore how the strategies evaluated in the current study would compare with one another in different states.

Researchers should pay particular attention to conceptualizing ways to measure the contribution principle of distributive justice theory, since it was not possible to directly assess this principle in the current study. Other studies can explore ethnicity and joint physical custody issues. Ethnicity is an important area for researchers because it has not been examined in the literature. Little is known about the implications of ethnicity, so future research should include both quantitative and qualitative analyses.

Ethnicity will be difficult to explore because it is not documented in final decrees but it is in some counties’ marriage licenses. Researchers will need to design other ways to incorporate ethnicity considerations. Joint physical custody is important because of the increasing percentages of families who are granted joint physical custody. Little is also known about the implications of joint physical custody. Further, as more and more males are granted physical custody of their children, exploring the financial consequences for male custodians will be important.