Duty in Divorce: Shared Income as a Path to Equality
Duty in Divorce: Shared Income as a Path to Equality
Jane Rutheford 0
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Recommended Citation Jane Rutheford, Duty in Divorce: Shared Income as a Path to Equality, 58 Fordham L. Rev. 539 (1990). Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/flr/vol58/iss4/1
* Assistant Professor, DePaul College of Law. A.B. University of Chicago; J.D.
University of Michigan. I would like to thank Martha Minow, Timothy O'Neill, Carol
Parker and Mark Weber for their invaluable comments on earlier drafts of this article. I
am also grateful to James Anderson and Zena Shuber for their excellent research. This
Article was funded by the Faculty Research Fund of DePaul University College of Law.
FOR many years American divorce law was typified by the vengeful
X motto of an "eye for [an] eye, [and a] tooth for [a] tooth"' or more
accurately, a house for an extramarital affair. The concept of fault
permeated divorce law. The fault concept established the permissible
grounds for divorce and provided the basis for resolving the financial
affairs of the divorcing couple. If a party could not demonstrate that a
spouse was at fault, no divorce would be granted.' Carried to its logical
extreme, the fault-based theory of divorce resulted in the doctrine of
recrimination, which provided that when both parties were guilty no
divorce could be granted.'
1. Exodus 21:24.
2. See H. Clark, The Law ofDomestic Relations in the United States § 12.1, at
40809 (2d Student ed. 1987); Friedman, RightsofPassage: DivorceLaw in
HistoricalPerspective, 63 Or. L. Rev. 649, 653 (1984).
3. See, e.g., Rankin v. Rankin, 181 Pa. Super. 414, 124 A.2d 639 (1956). In Rankin,
the husband allegedly kicked his wife and stood on top of her after she fell, causing her to
suffer a herniated disc. On other occasions the wife allegedly threatened the husband
with a butcher knife, tried to run him down with a car and threw a chair at him.
Nevertheless, the court refused to grant a divorce: "If both are equally at fault, neither can
clearly be said to be the innocent and injured spouse, and the law will leave them where
they put themselves ... ." Id. at 424, 124 A.2d at 644.
The irony of forcing two such individuals to remain married has not escaped criticism.
For example, Walter Wadlington likened recrimination to the absurdist Sartre play, No
Typical grounds for divorce included adultery, desertion, cruelty,
habitual drunkenness, impotence, and infection with venereal disease.' The
grounds for divorce operated as a list of prohibited behavior that set
norms for couples who remained married. The statutes impliedly created
duties during marriage. For example, a statute that defined adultery as a
ground for divorce implied a duty to be faithful during marriage. Thus,
fault created a tort model for divorce.'
Accordingly, fault affected the financial allocations between divorcing
spouses. Some states directly tied the availability of certain remedies to
the absence of fault. For example, in most states alimony was available
only to "innocent" wives. 6 Even in those states that did not directly
condition remedies on good conduct, fault played an important role in the
bargaining for a financial settlement.7 Because the "guilty" spouse
needed grounds for divorce, the "innocent" spouse could block the
divorce if dissatisfied with the financial settlement. This connection
between fault and financial allocations was a double-edged sword. If the
wealthier party was guilty, the other spouse could threaten to block the
divorce and bargain for a better financial settlement.' This system,
however, did little to protect powerless but guilty spouses. Thus, poverty
might be the price of an extra-marital affair.9 This theme of poverty as
an inevitable result of adultery is common in literature. 1 Given the
tremendous impact of a finding of fault, many witnesses in divorce
proceedings were less than candid about their conduct.
In the 1970s, critics began to attack what they viewed as the hypocrisy
of a system that required parties to perjure themselves to secure a
divorce." Soon the motto changed to "Let he who is without sin cast the
first stone."12 This motto reflected several major criticisms of the fault
Exit. See Wadlington, Divorce Without Fault Without Perury,52 Va. L. Rev. 32, 38-39
4. See, ag., Ill. Ann. Stat. ch. 40, para. 401 (Smith-Hurd 1980).
5. See H. Clark, supra note 2, § 12.1, at 409.
6. At one time, virtually all the states denied alimony to guilty spouses. See L.
Weitzman, The Divorce Revolution: The Unexpected Social and Economic
Consequences for Women and Children in America 146 (1985). Seven jurisdictions still
consider fault to be a bar to spousal support. See Ga. Code Ann. § 19-6-1(b) (1982); Idaho
Code § 32-705 (1983); La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 160 (West Supp. 1990); N.C. Gen. Stat.
§ 50-16.6 (1984); S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-130 (1985); Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.1 (Cum.
Supp. 1985); P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31, § 385 (1967).
7. See L. Weitzman, supra note 6, at 13 ("Since both the granting of the divorce and
the financial settlements were linked to fault, the 'innocent party' had a powerful lever to
use in property and alimony negotiations.").
8. See id. at 26 (arguing that this enhanced bargaining power of the innocent spouse
was an important financial protection for women).
9. See id. at 323.
10. See, e.g., T. Dreiser, Sister Carrie (1900); L. Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (J.
Carmichael trans. 1960).
11. See Wadlington, supranote 3, at 33 n.2 (quoting a judge "I have never been
comfortable in a matrimonial court.... We find nothing but perjury and collusion.").
12. Indeed, this rule arose in the context of adultery. The Old Testament punishment
for adultery was to be stoned to death. According to the biblical story, a crowd brought
system: first, that both spouses are likely to engage in some degree of
misbehavior in any troubled marriage; second, that the law should not
encourage people to lie about their behavior; and finally, that courts
should not examine private marital conduct. By 1985, all fifty states had
adopted some form of a no-fault divorce statute."3
Although the no-fault scheme seemed more realistic, it undermined
the old rules for allocating money and property. The old rules had been
built on a theory of "You play, you pay." The rejection of the fault
scheme does not imply rejection of the fault rules for allocating resources
at divorce in the absence of a better alternative. Since the fault system
also had defined marital duties, the no-fault approach would have to
redefine such duties as well as allocate financial resources. Two
alternative sources for duty come to mind: contract and partnership. Although
both approaches offer some insights, neither is completely appropriate
for use in family law.
Although there are some similarities between partnerships and
families, partnership law is not entirely appropriate for use in family law.
Each member of a family has both personal interests and group interests.
Problems arise in deciding when group claims can validly trump14
individual claims and in deciding what principles should guide a choice
between competing claims of individuals within the family.
These problems really involve issues of power. Such power usually has
an economic base. The law tends to favor the economically powerful
party. Frequently, this preference takes the form of protecting property
interests or capital, or both, at the expense of labor. For example, when
a business partnership dissolves, partners are entitled to recover their
capital contributions, but are not entitled to be paid for their services1.
Thus, when one partner contributes most of the capital while another
contributes most of the services, the rich partner recovers his or her
investment, but the hard worker does not. 16
The contract model is also inconsistent with how families operate.
Spouses often provide free services to their families. Generally, wives
an adulteress to Jesus to be punished, and Jesus responded with the famous adage, "'He
who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.'" John 8:7.
13. South Dakota became the last state to adopt some form of no-fault statute in
1985. See S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § 25-4-2(7) (Supp. 1989). For a history of the
adoption of no-fault divorce, see L. Halem, Divorce Reform 233-83 (1980).
14. See R. Dworkin, A Matter of Principle 370 (1985) (discussing when rights can
15. Uniform Partnership Act section 18(a) provides for partners to recover their
capital contributions, and section 18(f) provides: "No partner is entitled to remuneration for
acting in the partnership business . . . ." UPA § 18(f), 6 U.L.A. 213 (1914).
16. Although courts may imply an agreement for compensation when some partners
are completely inactive, generally courts refuse to compensate partners for their efforts,
even when the efforts have been one-sided. See J. Crane & A. Bromberg, The Law of
Partnership 375-79 (1968).
For an analogy to the situation most women face in marriage, see infra notes 85-87 and
provide more free services than do husbands. Indeed, at least one court
expressly held that a wife "must perform 'her household and domestic
duties ... without compensation therefor.' 117 This duty to contribute
free labor is reflected in the trend toward decreasing" or eliminating
alimony, which is arguably a form of payment for labor.19 Not
surprisingly, the beneficiaries of this free labor fare better after divorce; divorced
men experience a 42 percent increase in their standard of living, while
divorced women experience a 73 percent decrease in their standard of
A duty of free service arguably arises from the terms of the original
contract2. z Marriages, however, are not simple contracts that should be
enforced so inequitably. Instead, the initial agreement between spouses
should be viewed as a constitution which sets general ground rules for a
relationship that will develop over time.22 Accordingly, there are
problems with a simple contract model. To the extent that any duties
arise from marital relationships, they do not arise from contract, but
from the division of labor that evolves within the relationship.23 The
duty that emerges from this division of labor is not the duty to work for
free, but rather the mutual duty to share income.
The thesis of this Article is that divorce law should strive to reach a
fair or just result, rather than merely to reflect the existing power
structure. Indeed, the power structure within the marriage may be influenced
by the social and economic positions that each spouse occupies in society.
Accordingly, when there are competing claims, we should strive to
achieve an equitable result.2 4 Many previous attempts to foster equality
have either been counter-productive, or have simultaneously encouraged
selfishness at the expense of family solidarity.2 5 The goal of this piece is
to suggest an approach that promotes both sharing and equality.
This Article identifies the source and nature of certain family duties.
Part I examines the unique character of the family and the advantages
and disadvantages of searching for analogies elsewhere in law to define
family duties. Part I criticizes the contract model because it has
curtailed fault-based duties that protected families, without enforcing
contractual duties with appropriate remedies. Part I goes on to examine the
partnership model, which provides a more useful analogy in fiduciary
duties, but which fails as a model for marital relationships in terms of
purpose, context, and remedies and also fails to address the underlying
problem of inequality. Part II discusses the real source of family duties:
the division of labor within the family. Finally, Part III argues that
income sharing can resolve problems created by the current state of divorce
law and encourage both sharing and equality.
THE NATURE OF FAMILY DUTIES
Families are unusual because, in some instances, they create
non-consensual relationships. 6 For example, children do not choose their
parents, nor their siblings, nor in any meaningful sense do parents choose
children. Generally, of course, parents choose to have children. But that
choice is quite different from other voluntary relationships like the choice
of a business partner. First, it is likely that far more children are
accidentally conceived than partnerships. Second, a person searching for a
business partner has the opportunity to meet and investigate the
prospective partner first. Parents, in contrast, commit to receive an infant sight
In some respects, however, marriages seem contractual in nature. The
couple knows each other in advance, and may reduce their agreements to
writing in an antenuptial agreement. There also may be a strong
economic motive in marriage.2 7 Nevertheless, the primary goal of the
marU. Fla. L. Rev. 627, 647-48 (1987); see also R. Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously 272-73
(1977) (arguing that (
) the most fundamental right is the right to be treated equally, and
) therefore we may need to redistribute some forms of wealth).
25. Thus, Olsen sets up a dilemma: "Reforms that increase the juridical equality of
wives, however, also tend to undermine altruism and foster individual selfishness....
Reforms that encourage altruistic behavior within the family tend at the same time to
encourage and legitimate sex hierarchy within the family." Olsen, The Family and the
Market: A Study ofIdeology and Legal Reform, 96 Harv. L. Rev. 1497, 1559 (1983).
26. "The family, insofar as it differs from the relationship of husband and wife, is an
institution. Yet it does not develop out of a constitutive contract. Children are born and
reared without ever having agreed to become family members. Nor do parents ordinarily
agree to be responsible for them." D. Funk, supra note 22, at 110.
27. Even Aristotle admits that marriage involves both a profit motive and an
emotional one. "[-]uman beings cohabit not merely to produce children but to secure the
necessities of life .... For this reason it is thought that both utility and pleasure have a
place in conjugal love." Aristotle, The Ethics 280 (J.A.K. Thompson trans. 1976).
riage is the relationship itself, rather than external motivations.
Aristotle said, "[Pleople enjoy being loved for its own sake."2 8 Similarly,
Ferdinand Tonnies, the German sociologist, distinguishes between the
kind of institution based on emotional commitment (a Gemeinschaft or
community) from one based on more purely rational motives such as
profit (a Gesellschaft or society).29
such caring cannot be generalized to a market.3 2
This Gemeinschaft spirit epitomizes another unique characteristic of
families that distinguishes the family from other relationships. Families,
at least ideally, are supposed to care.30 Even in unhappy homes, the
atmosphere is emotionally charged. To the extent that marriages are based
on love, spouses share not merely because they have agreed to, but
because helping a loved one brings pleasure. 31 As Judith Areen has argued,
The issue becomes how the goal of caring can be incorporated into a
set of objective and enforceable legal duties in the context of divorce.
Two models have been proposed, one based on contract law and the
other on partnership law.
As Frances Olsen has argued, there are remarkable parallels in the
theories that support commercial and family law.3 3 Both have inherited
a discourse based on individual self-interest that finds its basis in social
contract theory. Under this view, government itself is the voluntary
"social contract" entered into by inherently autonomous individuals. 34 If
governments must be legitimated by contract then arguably the
formation of smaller groups, such as families, must also be based on voluntary
The contract model presumes that duties can only arise from contract:
we only owe those duties we have voluntarily assumed. Not all duties,
however, are contractual. For example, Aristotle believed that the
claims of justice increase with intimacy, so that we owe more to our
family than to others.36 However, he did not see family as a contractual
relationship.3 7 Similarly, the modern philosopher, Michael Sandel,
believes that family duties are not exclusively based in contract. He has
argued that although some duties may arise because we agree to assume
them, others arise because we owe them as a matter of reciprocity or
dependency. 38 For example, we may owe certain duties to our parents,
not because we agreed to accept them, but because we should reciprocate
for the care we have received. 39 These duties exist independent of any
547-48 (1983) (arguing that wrongful dissolution provisions of the UPA should be
interpreted broadly to be consistent with social contract theory); see also Teitelbaum, Family
History and FamilyLaw, 1985 Wis. L. Rev. 1135, 1139 ("It is unclear whether the
principles of family organization followed from principles generally governing social
organization or the reverse."); cf L. Weitzman, The Marriage Contract xix (1981) (arguing that
despite problems with the contract model of marriage, couples should reduce their
commitments to contracts).
36. See Aristotle, supra note 27, at 273.
37. See id. at 280 ("The love between husband and wife is considered to be naturally
inherent in them.").
38. "From the standpoint of reciprocity.., the need for consent fades, and I may be
obligated in virtue of benefits I do not want or dependencies beyond my control." M.
Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice 107 (1982). "[T]o some I owe more than
justice requires or even permits, not by reason of agreements I have made but instead in
virtue of those more or less enduring attachments and commitments which taken
together partly define the person I am." Id. at 179.
39. Focusing on reciprocity, rather than the inherent value of the caring relationship,
devalues love and overvalues commodifiable skills and money. Consider the example of
my elderly mother who needed care in her declining years. If I look at our relationship in
terms of reciprocity, then the argument is that I should help her now because she helped
me when she was younger and more fit. Thus, because she fed me, educated me, took
care of me when I was sick, and even babysat for my children, I should care for her now.
Such a purely reciprocal model has two serious dangers. First, it diminishes the
pleasure I take in caring for my elderly mother. I no longer engage in acts of love, but am
rather paying off old, involuntary debts. After all, no child chooses its mother or
volunteers to be born or cared for as a child. Thus, the reciprocal model transforms acts of
joyful love into burdensome obligations.
The reciprocal approach also robs my elderly mother of any vestige ofself esteem. My
mother-comes to see herself as simply a burden and asks, "What good am I?" Her value
in a purely reciprocal world is limited to the services she has contributed. Once too old
or infirm to cook, clean, or babysit she has no value at all, either to herself or others.
And yet I view my elderly mother as having immense value. The true value of my
mother is not measured in the market value of the services she performs for me. I can
purchase those services elsewhere. Her value comes from the relationship we have
formed. My mother has inestimable value. Indeed, she is irreplaceable. Family is
valuable simply because of its unique claim on our emotions, not because it has any market
We have not established a sufficient standard for familial duty if we make my legal
duty to care for my mother turn on how much I love her. If that were the standard, I
would be rewarded for being an ingrate; I would owe her no duty if I did not love her.
Even where some sort of a contract exists, the contract may create a
relationship that implies duties we have not expressly agreed to accept."
Thus, for example, two professionals may marry and agree that they will
pay all of their own expenses. If one of the two later becomes ill, the
healthy spouse may have a duty to pay for the sick spouse's medical
The Uniform Partnership Act ("UPA") creates such duties beyond the
scope of the contract. For example, UPA section 21 defines partners as
fiduciaries.4 2 Fiduciaries are parties who occupy a position of trust and
owe special duties.43 These duties arise from society's need to regulate
the partners' behavior.
Duties arising from social regulation are necessary to sustain the
relationship between members of any group in which there is a division of
labor. As Emile Durkheim wrote: "If society no longer imposes upon
everybody certain uniform practices, it takes greater care to define and
regulate the special relations between different social functions .. .,,4
Durkheim argues that these duties arise not from any contract, but from
the division of labor itself.45
Although marital duties are largely non-contractual, the Uniform
Marriage and Divorce Act ("UMDA") 46 defines marriage as a
con40. See M. Sandel, supra note 38, at 108 ("Such obligations are thus not contractual
in the strict sense that the contract creates the obligation, but rather in the limited
epistemic or heuristic sense that the contract helps to identify or clarify an obligation that is
already there." (citation omitted)); see also E. Durkheim, supra note 23, at 212 ("[Wjhat
shows better than anything else that contracts give rise to obligations which have not
been contracted for is that they 'make obligatory not only what there is expressed in
them, but also all consequences which equity, usage, or the law imputes from the nature
of the obligation.'" (citation omitted)).
41. For a discussion of the extent to which spouses are liable for expenses, see H.
Clark, supra note 2, § 6.1, at 257-58.
42. See UPA § 21, 6 U.L.A. 258 (1914).
43. In Meinhard v. Salmon, 249 N.Y. 458, 464, 164 N.E. 545, 546 (1928), Justice
Cardozo articulated a now famous definition of fiduciary duty:
Many forms of conduct permissible in a workaday world for those acting at
arm's length, are forbidden to those bound by fiduciary ties. A [fiduciary] is
held to something stricter than the morals of the marketplace. Not honesty
alone, but the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive, is then the standard of
44. E. Durkheim, supra note 23, at 205.
45. See id. at 201 ("The hypothesis of a social contract is irreconcilable with the
notion of the division of labor.").
46. The UMDA is used as a basis for comparison to the UPA throughout this Article
because it represents a consensus of the commissioners of uniform laws. It also
represents the national trend to limit alimony. See supra note 18.
The UMDA has been adopted by eight states. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 25-311 to
25-339 (1976 & Supp. 1989); Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 14-2-101 to 14-2-113, 14-10-101 to
1410-133 (1987 & Supp. 1989); Ill. Ann. Stat. ch. 40, para. 101 to 802 (Smith-Hurd 1980 &
Supp. 1989); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 403.010, 403.110 to 403.350 (Michie/Bobbs-Merrill
1984 & Supp. 1988); Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 518.002 to 518.66 (West Supp. 1990); Mo. Ann.
Stat. §§ 452.300 to 452.415 (Vernon 1986 & Supp. 1990); Mont. Code Ann. §§ 40-1-101
FORDHAM LAW REVIEW[
tract.47 When marriages dissolve, the results usually are determined by
agreement, rather than by litigation.4" The function of law is to provide
default provisions that will govern if the parties cannot agree.49 Parties
are unlikely to agree to give up more than is required by the legal rules,
which, thus, operate as a practical limit on the terms of the agreement.5 0
Limits on the ContractModel
The contract model is difficult to apply to families and divorce.
Application of the contract model requires that some troublesome elements of
family relations be discarded. The duty to support former spouses is an
example. This duty provided former spouses some degree of financial
protection. Dismantling the duty may not have been so devastating had
the contract model consistently applied a contract measure of damages to
supply protection. The shift from a tort theory to a contract theory,
however, dismantled the duty, but refused to allow a non-breaching
party to recover expectation damages. Thus, divorce law currently
applies a contract model when it advances powerful interests, but abandons
the model when it challenges those interests.
This inconsistency results from trying to force marriage into a contract
model, which also creates several additional problems. For example,
marriage is not purely contractual because it evolves over time and
because it must accommodate interests of children and society that do not
arise from any contract. To the extent there are contractual elements of
marriage, they are difficult to define. In addition, as currently defined by
the UMDA, these contractual duties devalue sharing and caring.
Finally, the search for a breaching party may be perilously close to the
traditional search for fault.
1. The Nature of Marriage: Contract or Community?
Marriage is not a simple contract. "[A] contract is a private 'ordering'
in which a party binds himself to do, or not to do, a particular thing."5 1
to 40-1-404, 40-4-101 to 40-4-221 (1989); Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 26.09.010 to
26.09.902 (1986 & Supp. 1990).
47. "Marriage is a personal relationship between a man and a woman arising out of a
civil contractto which the consent of the parties is essential." UMDA § 201, 9A U.L.A.
160 (1973) (emphasis added). This language was meant to underscore the nature of
marriage as a contract: "This section ...emphasizes the legal concept of marriage as a civil
contractual status ...." UMDA § 201 comment, 9A U.L.A. 161 (1973).
48. Most divorces are uncontested. See Mnookin & Kornhauser, Bargainingin the
Shadow of the Law: The Case of Divorce, 88 Yale L.J. 950, 951 (1979).
49. See id. at 957.
50. For example, some states have adopted statutes that set minimum percentages or
amounts for child support. See, e.g., Cal. Civ. Code § 4722 (West Supp. 1990); Colo.
Rev. Stat. § 14-10-115(10)(b) (1987); Ill. Ann. Stat. ch. 40, para. 505(a)(
Supp. 1989). Although these statutes are supposed to provide the minimum, they
actually operate as a ceiling or maximum, since supporting parents are unlikely to agree to
pay more than they have to.
51. Joseph Martin, Jr. Delicatessen, Inc. v. Schumacher, 52 N.Y.2d 105, 109, 417
For example, a simple contract might require one party to perform a
specific job in return for a specific price. Marriage does not require
particular obligations; it requires the parties to relate to each other over
time. 2 Changes that occur over time may be fundamental and cannot be
accounted for by contract. 3 Indeed, our very personalities and values
may change.5 4
The marriage we enter at twenty may not be the same as the one we
leave at forty. For example, although a couple may agree in advance to
have children, they cannot anticipate how having children may change
their approach to their careers or each other. Some may react by
working more to generate extra income. Others may limit their careers to
spend more time with their children. These decisions are interdependent;
it may only be possible for one spouse to work extra hours if the other
spouse limits a career to assume a greater share of the child-rearing
The particular obligations can and will change as the needs and values
of the family change. Accordingly, the marriage vows operate more like
a constitution, which sets the ground rules for a relationship, than a
specific contract to achieve a particular result.5
Family duties also exist to limit the freedom of the spouses and protect
the interests of children, creditors and society. Thus, spouses are not free
to agree to neglect their children or cheat their creditors. These duties
are not voluntarily assumed, but are imposed externally to protect third
Defining the Terms of the Contract
Because marriage is not a simple contract, it is difficult to define the
contractual terms of marriage. Marriage is similar to a contract because
of a sense of mutuality, not because there is express agreement on most of
the terms. The terms of a typical Christian marriage contract5 6 are
usuN.E.2d 541, 543, 436 N.Y.S.2d 247, 249 (1981); accord K.C. Working Chemical Co. v.
Eureka-Security Fire & Marine Ins. Co. 82 Cal. App. 2d 120, 133, 185 P.2d 832, 840
(1947); McInerney v. Detroit Trust Co., 279 Mich. 42, 46, 271 N.W. 545, 546 (1937).
This definition is somewhat similar to what Ian Macneil calls "discrete exchange".
Macneil, Relational Contract: What We Do and Do Not Know, 1985 Wis. L. Rev. 483, 485.
Macneil argues that contract also must consider the relationships that form around the
bargain as well.
52. In this sense, then, such relationships are more similar to Macneil's relational
contract. See Macneil, supra note 51, at 485-86.
53. For a more detailed explanation of such fundamental changes that might justify
restricting absolute freedom of contract, see Kronman, Paternalismand the Law of
Contracts, 92 Yale L.J. 763 (1983).
54. See id. at 780-84.
55. David Funk refers to these underlying agreements as "constitutive contracts,"
and the resulting relationships as "constitutive contract institutions." D. Funk, supra
note 22, at 109-10.
56. The Jewish tradition is quite different. Jews generally have a formal marriage
document called a Ketubbah, which is designed to protect women financially at divorce
and provides a specific amount to be paid in the event the husband divorces the wife.
ally vague. Many couples promise to love and care for each other for
better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death." Notably absent
from such vows are promises about income or property during the course
of the marriage, let alone at divorce. Indeed the contract model is
inconsistent with our societal view of marriage based on romantic love.5" The
happy newlyweds may each have very different ideas about the way they
intend to handle their money. Accordingly, it may be difficult to
determine what the original expectations of the couple were.
As stated earlier, marriages must be able to adapt to changing
circumstances. 59 For example, a couple initially may decide to keep their
earnings separate. If one spouse later decides to change careers or return to
school, then they may want to switch to an income sharing approach.
Even more problematically, only one spouse may want to change. It
might be more accurate to say that spouses agree to work things out as
they go along. Such contracts are ambiguous at best.
When faced with ambiguous contracts, courts sometimes look to the
actual course of dealing between the parties to determine their intent. 60
Although the UMDA considers marriage a contract, it does not provide
for any investigation into the actual intent of the parties. Instead, the
UMDA establishes default provisions that take the place of the parties'
The Effect of Contractual Families: Devaluing Caring and Sharing
The terms of the UMDA default provisions are antithetical to the
notion that married couples should provide support and share resources.
The UMDA limits the duty to support a former spouse to instances in
which the spouse is unable to work outside the home.6 1 Thus, the
UMDA sets a norm of two spouses both working full-time outside the
home to generate income. That norm is unrealistic. Even employed
women do not earn as much as men. 62 Hence, the UMDA favors earners
over homemakers, including employed homemakers. I use the term
Ketubbahs, however, are seldom explicitly negotiated. Originally they were deeds signed
only by the husband, and the amount to be paid was established by local custom.
Currently, the Ketubbah usually is a standardized form. See M. Elon, The Principles of
Jewish Law 388 (1975).
57. These are typical Christian vows. See, e.g., The Book of Common Prayer 424
(1979) ("[W]ill you have this man to be your husband; to live together in the covenant of
marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in
health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?" The
husband makes nearly identical vows).
58. See L. Weitzman, supra note 6, at xvi.
59. See supra notes 51-54 and accompanying text.
60. See Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 202(
61. See UMDA § 308, 9A U.L.A. 347-48 (1973) ("[T]he court may grant a
maintenance order for either spouse only if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance: ... is
unable to support himself through appropriate employment .... ").
62. See United States Dep't of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, NationalDataBook
and Guide to Sources, StatisticalAbstract of the United States 406 (1989) [hereinafter
"homemaker" to describe the person within a marriage who contributes
most of the services in the home. Increasingly, homemakers are also
employed outside the home.63 In a fully egalitarian household, both spouses
may be homemakers.
Instead of encouraging spouses to share income or engage in
caretaking roles, the UMDA rewards partners who maximize their individual
earnings. The time homemakers spend on household tasks cannot be
spent earning money. Therefore, spouses who downplay household tasks
to maximize their individual earnings do so at the expense of the family,
either in higher costs for services, or in inferior services. Accordingly,
the UMDA default provisions neither encourage sharing nor protect
homemakers. Instead, the default provisions reward the powerful earner
by eliminating the duty to support a former spouse. These provisions,
which protect earners, were initially justified as a method to empower
homemakers. In reality, they were not an attempt to make homemakers
more powerful, but rather to transform them into earners. When
powerful interests are at stake, the UMDA abandons the contract model.
The UMDA creates a statutory duty to contribute labor," but it does
not create any remedies to protect the laborer. The obvious contract
remedy would be a breach of contract action.
4. Finding a Breaching Party: A Return to Fault
Although the UMDA defines marriage as a contract, it does not treat a
divorce as a breach of contract action. Traditionally, when a contract is
breached, the remedy attempts to fulfill the expectations of the parties.65
At the time they marry, spouses arguably expect to share income for life.
Although not all spouses expect to share all their income, most couples
likely plan to share at least some income. For example, one spouse may
at least contribute to living expenses, or create an allowance, even if he or
she does not share income equally. Of course, even if the couple expects
to share income, they may acknowledge the possibility that the marriage
may end prematurely. However, at the time they marry, and while the
marriage continues, they expect the relationship to continue.66
The UMDA rejects expectation damages partly to avoid assigning
fault, which results from the necessity to find a breaching party. For
example, if a wife has an extra-marital affair, has she breached the
contract? Is her behavior excused if the husband had an affair first, or have
they both breached the contract? What if she has affairs to retaliate
be63. Thus the number of families in which both spouses were earners increased from
12,990,000 in 1980 to 14,955,000 in 1987. See id. at 407.
64. Thus the UMDA only allows maintenance when a spouse "is unable to support
himself through appropriate employment .. " UMDA § 308(a)(
), 9A U.L.A. 348
65. See Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 347 comment a (1979).
66. See, e.g., S. Sheehan, A Welfare Mother 10 (1976) (quoting a welfare mother:
"'When we married, I thought the marriage would last forever.' ").
cause he drinks too much? Is her breach more serious? If so, does she
become the breaching party? In fact, it may be unrealistic to assume that
only one of the spouses caused the breach. Bad relationships develop
over time, as do good ones. The spouse who commits the final breach
"may merely be reacting to a situation which is not of his or her
making."'6 7 Thus, in determining which spouse breached the contract, the
*court would have to review each spouse's conduct during the entire
In the past, courts were much more willing to talk in terms of fault,
right and wrong. Carl Schneider has argued that courts used to speak in
terms of morality, but that they now talk in terms of utility. We have
changed from asking "what is right?" to "what works?"6 8 Frances
Olsen sees this utilitarian discourse as a necessary outgrowth of the
individualistic laissez-faire worldview. She argues that the laissez-faire view
moves us beyond "what works?" to the more negative "nothing works."
This skepticism about our ability to solve complex problems without
creating new ones then justifies limiting state intervention in private
The Role of Privacy
Family law has long been haunted by the notion that the state should
not interfere in family matters. At its worst, the doctrine of
non-intervention means that state resources are not available to protect individuals
from other family members with greater physical, economic or legal
power?0° At its best, the doctrine of non-intervention allows the family
as a whole the freedom to make choices without government
interference. This doctrine cannot properly be evaluated without carefully
Privacy has many meanings.7 One of them is the right to keep things
secret. However, the need for confidentiality does not justify the failure
to inquire into fault. This interest can be satisfied by taking steps such as
sealing the records, which keep the information free from general public
scrutiny. Courts routinely take such measures in juvenile criminal
proceedings.7 2 Privacy also refers to the right to make a decision free from
government intervention. 73 This right supports the argument for
consensual divorce. Consensual divorce is no longer an issue, however, because
it is available in every state.7 4 Even if fault no longer supplies the
grounds for divorce, it may be relevant in resolving financial matters.
Such an inquiry does not conflict with the right to make decisions free of
government intervention. Consensual decisions by the parties on how to
divide their assets and income would still be available. Fault or breach
only needs to be considered when the parties cannot arrive at such an
The UMDA, however, precludes courts from considering fault.
Although the UMDA defines marriage as a contract, it prohibits courts
from considering misconduct.75 Misconduct, however, is merely a way
of describing which party breached the contract. Traditional contract
remedies depend on such an inquiry. 76 Thus, there is an internal
inconsistency in the UMDA approach to marriage as contract. The UMDA
creates implied contractual duties without permitting contractual
The contract model has some serious drawbacks. It does not provide
the flexibility to allow relationships to develop over time. Accordingly, it
devalues caring and sharing, and ultimately returns to the conundrum of
fault. Even worse, the contract model is susceptible to the manipulations
of power. The partnership model may be more appealing.
One reason that partnership law seems to provide an appealing
analogy for family law is that partnership embodies the notions of sharing
and equality7 7 that we seek for families. Nevertheless, partnerships,
unlike families, are created solely for commercial purposes. Before we can
examine whether marriage is similar to a commercial partnership, we
should ask whether it is proper to make such a comparison at all.
Many commentators have suggested that it is inappropriate to apply
commercial analysis to family law questions. Some object because the
comparison encourages us to think of people and personal relationships
in financial terms.7" Others object because the law of the marketplace is
premised on social contract theory, which focuses on individuals and
their rights against others. This competitive model is inconsistent with
the view of the family as a unit based on sharing, not competition.79
Finally, some object on more pragmatic grounds, arguing that adopting a
competitive model will endanger those who have a competitive
disadvantage in our society, specifically, women and children. 0
Although all these objections have merit, there are at least two reasons
to proceed. First, courts"1 and legislatures analogize marriage to
partnership. 2 Second, critics who are concerned about the commodification
of family law, although rightfully wary, are like parents who are
concerned that others may be a bad influence on their children and forget
that their children may be a good influence on others. Thus, the sharing
principles of family law may bring new insights into partnership law. 3
These insights may help protect the economically disadvantaged in
partnerships as well as in families.s4
For example, understanding the problems of displaced homemakers
may help us understand the similar problems of displaced partners.
Frequently partnerships are formed to unite skill and capital. Some partners
may provide money, while others provide expertise, and some provide
78. Margaret Jane Radin argues that by adopting the market analogy we denigrate
"personhood" by measuring personal relationships in financial terms. For example,
babies should not be sold because to do so would "commodify" them. See Radin,
MarketInalienability, 100 Harv. L. Rev. 1849, 1925 (1987). Her fear seems justified. Some
proponents of the pure market have proposed that babies should be bought and sold. See,
e.g., Landes & Posner, The Economics of the Baby Shortage, 7 J. Legal Stud. 323, 324
(1978). In the course of comparing partnerships and marriage, I do not intend to
encourage such commodification.
79. John Hardwig argues that the nature of intimate relationships requires that
because we enjoy pleasing our loved ones, we are willing to do far more than they have a
right to expect. Accordingly, Hardwig sees rights as the death knell of intimacy. See
Hardwig, supra note 31, at 444.
Similarly, Susan Westerberg Prager refers to a system of sharing as opposed to purely
individualistic principles. See Prager, SharingPrinciplesand the Futureof
MaritalProperty Law, 25 UCLA L. Rev. 1, 1-2 (1977).
80. Cf M. Glendon, supranote 19, at 61 (noting that women generally lost
bargaining leverage with end of fault-based divorce).
81. See, e.g., Julsen v. Julsen, 741 P.2d 642, 648 (Alaska 1987); In re Marriage of
Calisoff, 176 Ill. App. 3d 721, 725-26, 531 N.E.2d 810, 814 (1988); Kaye v. Kaye, 538
A.2d 288, 289 (Me. 1988).
82. See Smith, The PartnershipTheory of Marriage: A Borrowed Solution Fails, 68
Tex. L. Rev. 689, 695-97 (1990).
83. The literature in both family law and partnership law frequently borrow
terminology from the other. See, e.g., Hillman, supranote 35, at 528-29 (referring to formation of
partnership as "commercial marriage," breakup of partnership as "commercial divorce"
that requires determination as to "custody of the business"). Nevertheless, that literature
rarely analyzes either the theoretical or the doctrinal similarities and differences. Both
partnership law and family law could be enriched by more serious analogies.
84. As Frances Olsen has suggested, maintaining a false dichotomy between the
family and the market may help sustain exploitation in both spheres. Thus, it is easier to
accept greed and competition in the market if we view it as necessary to sustain a moral
homelife. See Olsen, supra note 25, at 1500-01.
both. Just as a homemaking spouse may be willing to provide services at
below market rates to secure future prosperity, a new partner may be
willing to perform services for the partnership at below market rates in
hope of future returns. The UPA, like the UMDA, undervalues these
contributions of skills and services.85 Section 18 of the UPA provides
that capital contributions will be repaid,86 but denies any payment for
services rendered.87 Just as the decision to limit alimony fails to account
for the lost opportunities of the displaced homemaker, the UPA fails to
account for the lost opportunities of the displaced partner.
Despite some flaws, partnership law expressly favors sharing and
equality. For example, the UPA provides for partners to share profits
and losses equally,8 8 share the management of the business equally,89 and
share partnership property equally. 90 At face value these provisions
provide a normative statement supporting the values of sharing and equality.
Powerful partners, however, can overcome these provisions by entering
into express partnership agreements that divide profits, losses,
management fights, and property unequally. 9 1 Accordingly, the UPA provisions
in favor of sharing and equality may be illusory. The partnership model
must be examined in greater detail to determine if it provides a good
analogy to marriage.
1. The Role of Contract in Partnership
One of the major limits of the partnership analogy is the extent to
which partners rely upon contracts to determine their rights. Although
partners frequently consult lawyers and draft detailed partnership
agreements, spouses rarely do. Moreover, marriage is a multi-purpose
relationship that varies over time. A couple may marry for love, develop
mutual interests in shared children and remain together because of
economic interdependence. Partnership, on the other hand, has a single
purpose: to create a profit. Family is a Gemeinschaftbased on emotional
commitment, while a partnership is a Gesellschaft based on the more
purely rational profit motive.92 Unlike families, the nature and profit
motive of partnerships make it more appropriate to treat them as
85. For a more detailed discussion of this problem, see infra notes 205-206 and
86. See UPA § 18(a), 6 U.L.A. 213 (1914).
87. See id. § 18(f), 6 U.L.A. at 213.
88. See id. § 18(a), 6 U.L.A. at 213.
89. See id. § 18(e), 6 U.L.A. at 213.
90. See id. § 25(
)(a), 6 U.L.A. at 326.
91. UPA section 18 provides that the rights of partners are "subject to any agreement
between them .... ." Id. § 18, 6 U.L.A. at 213.
92. Interestingly enough, Tonnies himself considered both families and partnerships
to be Gemeinschaft. See F. Tonnies, supra note 29, at 196, 228-29.
The Role of Fault in Partnership
If a partnership is a contract, then failed partnerships raise the familiar
specter of fault. Accordingly, it is hardly surprising that the partnership
rules93 provide for financial allocations according to fault. A
misbehaving partner is liable for damages,9 4 may be excluded from the ongoing
business 95 and may be denied any recovery for partnership goodwill. 96
Such misbehavior includes both express breaches of the partnership
agreement and more general wrongful behavior: failure to deliver signed
documents,97 refusal to allow a partner the right to participate in the
management or share in the profits,9" failure to provide an annual
accounting9 9 and conversion of partnership property °° have all been
considered sufficient to trigger a remedy.
One reason that courts may be more willing to find a breaching party
in partnership arrangements than in marriages is that the breaching
partner does not walk away completely empty-handed. Although liable in
damages, the breaching partner can still recover his or her share of the
partnership assets. 101 Thus, although the partnership rules retain fault as
a basis for financial allocations, they are more palatable than innocent
spouse rules because they do not leave the misbehaving partner destitute.
Nevertheless, fault-based dissolution rules in partnership share many of
the familiar problems associated with fault in divorce. For example,
courts must face the nearly impossible task of finding a single guilty
party. 102 Thus, this explanation does not sufficiently explain why the law
is more willing to determine the breaching party in a partnership than in
Another possible explanation is that family matters are considered
private, while business matters are considered public." 3 This rationale
might explain why divorce courts are willing to recompense "economic"
misconduct, even though they reject recovery for fault in general."
That distinction blurs, however, because many partnership cases involve
"family" partnerships."-' If courts can decide which brother breached
the oral partnership agreement, they can decide which spouse breached
the marriage contract. 10 6
The real reason for the hesitancy to affix blame at divorce may be an
unarticulated sense that family relationships are not purely contractual.
The UPA acknowledges that partnerships are not purely contractual
either, yet courts are still willing to search for fault in failed partnerships.
Indeed, the UPA is careful to define a partnership not as a contract but
as an "association." 107 Thus, individuals can become partners without
entering into any agreement.' 0 8 Section 7(
) of the UPA provides that
profit sharing constitutes primafacie evidence of partnership.0 9 Sharing
profits does not create an express agreement to be partners, but it does
create a relationship between individuals that the law chooses to treat as
a defacto partnership. Thus, both defacto partnerships and contractual
partnerships are relationships rather than mere contracts.
Because partnerships are more than simple contracts, the duties that
arise from them are not always voluntarily assumed. The UPA provides
104. See Freed & Walker, Family Law in the Fifty States: An Overview, 20 Fam. L.Q.
439, 483-84 (1987) (noting that 19 states and the District of Columbia consider economic
misconduct in making financial awards, see Price v. Price, 278 N.W.2d 455, 458 (S.D.
1979) (catch-all provision); Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-318(A) (West 1976 & Supp. 1989);
Cal. Civ. Code § 4800(b)(
) (West 1983 & Supp. 1990); Colo. Rev. Stat. §
)(d) (1987); Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-81(c) (West 1986 & Supp. 1989); Del. Code
Ann. tit. 13, § 1513(a)(6) (1981); D.C. Code Ann. § 16-910(b) (1989); Fla. Stat. Ann.
§ 61.075(l)(g) (West Supp. 1989); Ga. Code Ann. § 19-6-1(c) (1982); Ill. Ann. Stat. ch.
40, para. 503(d)(
) (Smith-Hurd Supp. 1989); Ind. Code Ann. § 31-1-11.5-11(c)(
(Burns Supp. 1989); Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-1610(b)(
) (1983); Minn. Stat. Ann.
) (West Supp. 1990); Mont. Code Ann. § 40-4-202(
) (1989); N.Y. Dom. Rel.
Law § 236B(
)(d)(l1) (McKinney 1986); N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20(c)(11)(a) (1987); Pa.
Stat. Ann. tit. 23, § 401(d)(7) (Purdon Supp. 1989); Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 15 § 751(b)(11)
(Supp. 1988); W. Va. Code § 48-2-32(c)(
) (1986 & Supp. 1989)).
105. See, e.g., Page v. Page, 55 Cal. 2d 192, 194, 10 Cal. Rptr. 643, 645, 359 P.2d 41,
43 (1961) (partnership between brothers); Cyrus v. Cyrus, 242 Minn. 180, 181, 64
N.W.2d 538, 540 (1954) (same); Lipinski v. Lipinski, 227 Minn. 511, 512, 35 N.W.2d
708, 709 (1949) (same); Pulliam v. Pulliam, 226 Mont. 94, 733 P.2d 1299, 1299 (1987)
106. When a court determines breach of a family partnership agreement it is not
terminating the family relationship of the partners. Such decisions, however, will have a
practical effiect on that relationship.
107. "A partnership is an association of two or more persons to carry on as co-owners
a business for profit." UPA § 6(
), 6 U.L.A. 22 (1914).
108. See, e.g., Zajac v. Harris, 241 Ark. 737, 740, 410 S.W.2d 593, 594-95 (1967)
(partnership resulted although there was no express agreement and although one party viewed
the relationship as one of employment).
109. See UPA § 7(
), 6 U.L.A. 39 (1914).
However, even if courts limit considerations of fault to financial
allocations, they still face all the problems that arose under the old fault
statutes. First, courts have to define fault and then determine which spouse
is more guilty. Second, courts'face the sleazy practices that gave divorce
law a bad name, including eavesdropping and perjury, and involve courts
in probing into intimate details of sexual practices. Finally, courts would
still sentence some spouses to impoverishment as a result of divorce
because not all needy spouses are innocent ones. That result is particularly
harsh when children live with the guilty spouse. These dependents
would be punished for their parent's misconduct because their standard
of living is tied to that of the custodial parent. A fault-based standard,
therefore, can be harsh and unfair.
c. Problems with the ContributionStandard
In order to avoid the problems of need and fault, some reformers have
focused on a contribution standard. Under the contribution standard,
homemakers are rewarded for their contributions to the marriage. 2co
For example, reformers in Wisconsin concentrated on contributions
because of a misplaced faith in symbolic equality.21 At the time of this
reform, there were three theories for the division of marital property:
fault, need and contribution. "Only the contribution concept, however,
was compatible with the reformers' overriding commitment to
equality",202 because admitting that women were needy implied that they were
incapable of supporting themselves.
The contribution theory has two major problems, however. First, it
fails to account for expectations. Second, it overcompensates earners and
undercompensates homemakers because economic contributions are
easier to measure. The contribution theory adopts the husbands' point of
view. Because husbands frequently earn more than wives, typically they
are able to contribute more money and property to the marriage. Wives,
including working wives, frequently contribute more services.20 3 The
services they provide have great value, even in economic terms; market
rates are high for services such as babysitting, cleaning, cooking and
laundry. 2 4 As explained earlier, one reason women may choose to
provide these services at below market rates is their expectation of long-term
benefit. They may be willing to be under-paid in the short term to secure
their long-term prosperity by sharing in their spouses' income. Instead
of looking forward to the expectations of the parties, the UMDA looks
backwards at the contributions of the parties. This status quo ante
ap200. Both versions of section 307 of the UMDA look backward at the contributions of
the parties, including homemaker contributions, and the comment to § 307 notes that
this is a "new concept in Anglo-American law." See UMDA § 307 comment, 9A U.L.A.
201. See Fineman, supra note 199, at 877 & n.230.
202. Id. at 877.
203. See supra note 133.
204. See supra notes 132-133 and accompanying text.
proach amounts to a tort measure of damages. Ironically, it was
precisely the tort notions of fault that the UMDA sought to avoid.
Although the UMDA purports to reward homemakers'
contributions, 20 5 it does not reimburse them at market value rates. Indeed, it
would be virtually impossible for most families to reimburse individuals
for the market value of the services rendered for two reasons. First, it
would be extremely difficult to tally all the services provided. Second,
even if we could realistically estimate the value of the services, very few
families could afford to pay for them at market rates.20 6
Similarly, the UPA does not provide for reimbursement of partners for
services rendered20 7 because partners do not expect to be paid at the
market rates, but do expect to share in future profits.20 The UPA fulfills
such expectations even if there has been no breach of contract and no
breaching party. The provisions that provide a right to share equally in
the profits2 0 9 and that preclude a partner from being paid for services2 10
are part of the section entitled "Rules Determining Rights and Duties of
Partners,"2'11 rather than part of the section on breach of the partnership
Spouses, on the other hand, are not paid adequately for their
contributions, and do not share equally in profits and losses. Like partners, they
probably do not expect to be paid at market rates for their services. They
do expect, however, to share in future prosperity.
Problems with the Standardof Living Approach to Alimony
Another way to avoid the disparities inherent in the need approach to
alimony is to base awards on the pre-divorce standard of living.2 13 This
approach is especially appealing when children are involved because we
do not want to economically punish children for their parents' divorce.21 4
Nevertheless, this standard of living approach is both unfair and
The standard of living approach freezes the couple at a specific
moment. Both spouses cannot maintain their pre-divorce standard of living
without new sources of income. Because housing expenses will
necessarily increase when the couple adds an additional household, their standard
of living will necessarily decline unless there is new income to offset these
new expenses.2 1l
Therefore, requiring a person to support an ex-spouse at the old
standard of living is unfair. In theory it could turn the tables and lead to the
masculinization of poverty. In reality, it has become an excuse not to
award alimony at all. When critics maintain that few families can afford
to pay alimony,2 16 they mean that few families can afford to keep a prior
spouse at the pre-divorce standard of living, not that they cannot afford
to pay anything at all.
This approach would be more palatable if it were limited to families
with children. The standard of living of the children is necessarily tied to
that of the custodial parent.2 17 Payors, however, are more willing to
support their children than to support their former spouses.2 1 8 If we do not
want children to suffer the economic loss inherent in divorce, then the
non-custodial parent should be required to maintain the children at the
pre-divorce standard. Indeed, that is one of the factors the UMDA lists
for courts to consider in awarding child support.2 19
Limiting the standard of living approach to child support has
problems, however. It creates additional incentives to engage in custody
battles and heightens the perception of unfairness that may contribute to
non-payment. Use of the pre-divorce standard of living turns the
custodial parent into a winner and the non-custodial parent into a loser; the
custodial parent gets more time with the children and a substantially
higher standard of living than the non-custodial parent. As a result,
there is a much greater incentive to fight over custody of the children.
Such battles are detrimental for children.2 20
The payor is bound to resent having to pay money so that his or her
ex-spouse and children can live substantially better. The resulting
disparity between the payor and the recipient spouse may seem even more
215. See Mnookin & Kornhauser, supra note 48, at 960 n.40. Indeed, Lenore
Weitzman's statistics illustrate this point. If the standard of living remained static after
divorce, we would expect the increase in the man's standard of living to correspond to an
equal decrease in the woman's standard of living. That is not the case however.
Although the woman's standard of living decreases 73 percent, her ex-husband's standard
of living only increases by 42 percent. See L. Weitzman, supra note 6, at xii. Thus, as a
couple, the total standard of living declines by 31 percent after divorce.
216. See M. Glendon, supra note 19, at 57 ("IT]he economic circumstance of most
divorcing couples mean that spousal support is not and cannot be a common incident of
217. See Mnookin & Kornhauser, supra note 48, at 960-61.
218. See id. at 960.
219. See UMDA § 309(
), 9A U.L.A. 400 (1973).
220. See Note, Lawyeringfor the Child: Principlesof Representation in Custody and
Visitation DisputesArisingfrom Divorce, 87 Yale L.J. 1126, 1131-32 & nn.19-24 (1978).
unfair as child support payments cannot be deducted from the payor's
income tax, and are not included as income for the recipient.2"'
Maintaining a spouse at the pre-divorce standard of living can also be
unfair to the recipient. A spouse may make compromises, struggle and
save through the lean years, only to be discarded on the eve of comfort.
For example, in Kulakowski v. Kulakowski2 2z the court admitted that it
would be "grossly unfair and inequitable to compel [the wife] to live a
reduced lifestyle commensurate with her anticipated limited earnings,
while her husband is permitted to enjoy a substantially enhanced style of
living . ,,22" Accordingly, the court granted the wife permanent
alimony, which, together with her own income, allowed her to live on
$24,000 per year. 2 The court considered this fair because it
approximated one half of the couple's pre-divorce income of $49,500.225
Meanwhile, her husband increased his earnings to $90,000 annually. 226 To
restrict such a spouse to the pre-divorce standard of living is unfair.
The Role of PropertyDivision
Alimony is only one mechanism for equalizing the financial situation
of the spouses at divorce; property division is another. Increasingly, the
law has turned to the division of property as a substitute for alimony,
rather than as an additional remedy. 227
1. Problems with Property Division as a Substitute for Alimony
Both the UMDA228 and the UPA229 tried to address equality problems
by dividing property. Property division may seem more acceptable than
shifting income, but it encourages the parties to liquidate scarce assets.
Liquidation is unduly harsh and wasteful both in divorces 2 0 and in
partnerships. 2 31 From an economic standpoint, the replacement cost of such
property is frequently greater than its fair market value. Thus both
parties lose when property is liquidated.2 32
Liquidation is especially troubling in a family setting because of its
enormous emotional cost, especially for children. The largest asset many
families have is the family home. Forcing children who are already
suffering the emotional trauma of divorce to move to new neighborhoods,
change schools and leave the support of their friends is cruel.2 33 Such
cruelty is inconsistent with the best interests of the child, which is the
usual custody standard.2 3 4
The UMDA thus provides for "equitable" distribution of property and
suggests that it is appropriate for a court to consider awarding the family
home to the custodial parent.2 35 The UMDA, however, does not provide
for maintenance to enable the custodial parent to make mortgage
Moreover, dividing property is not effective as a means of equalizing
the financial situation at divorce. It does not compensate homemakers
for two reasons. First, few couples have significant debt-free property.236
Indeed, many divorcing couples have greater liabilities than assets.23 7
The real asset of most Americans is their earning capacity.2 38
Even if a
family is lucky enough to own a home outright, the share awarded to a
divorced homemaker would not provide support for long. Second,
homemakers expect to share in both the property and the future earnings
of their spouses. Homemakers are cheated out of the benefit of their
bargain if they receive only property.
Problems with Re-Defining Income as Property
Some commentators have tried to address this problem by re-defining
income as property.2 3 9 In community property states, equal division of
property is the norm.24
When confronted by the high proportion of
nership Comm., Corporation Banking and Business Law Section 136 (April 1986)
("[T]he expelled partner should not be entitled to compel a liquidation of the partnership
to discharge the partnership liabilities.").
233. See L. Weitzman, supra note 6, at xii.
234. See UMDA § 402, 9A U.L.A. 561 (1973).
235. The UMDA offers two different alternatives for property distribution: one for
most separate property states, and one for community property states. Both alternatives
provide for equitable rather than equal distribution. See UMDA § 307, 9A U.L.A.
236. A survey in Detroit in the 1950s showed 40 percent of divorced families had no
property to divide. See Weitzman, The Economics ofDivorce: Social andEconomic
Consequences ofProperty,Alimony and ChildSupport Awards, 28 UCLA L. Rev. 1181, 1189
n.34 (1981). Similarly, a more recent California study revealed that "about half of the
divorcing couples in California had less than $11,000 of community property." Id. at
237. See id. at 1191 (one out of every eleven divorcing couples in California had
greater debts than assets).
238. See L. Weitzman, supra note 6, at xiii.
239. See generally M. Glendon, supra note 19.
240. Four of the eight community property states provide for equal as opposed to
equitable distribution of property. See Cunningham v. Cunningham, 96 N.M. 529, 531, 632
P.2d 1167, 1169 (1981); Cal. Civ. Code § 4800(a) (1983 & West Supp. 1990); Idaho Code
)(a) (1983); La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:2801(
couples who have little property, some have tried to redefine property by
arguing that items such as professional degrees are property.24 1
Four states currently recognize professional degrees, goodwill,
licenses, or partnerships as marital property.24 2 Most of these states view
such a property division as a way to repay a spouse for his or her
contributions. The theory is just another version of the contribution theory of
alimony. A spouse is entitled to recover his or her contributions by
dividing the assets that were acquired by virtue of those contributions.
The problem with this contribution-based theory is that it is frozen in
time at the date of the divorce. There is an immediate problem in trying
to determine the present value of future earnings. No system of valuing
such "new property" can account for fortuitous changes that occur in
every marriage. A determination of present value of future income may
not account for the spouse who contracts a debilitating disease in middle
age. This problem may result in one spouse receiving a windfall. The
cost in terms of expert witnesses to prove the present value of future
income may also be prohibitive.
In addition, a realistic appraisal of a lifetime of earnings is likely to
yield an enormous figure.243 Courts may tend to devalue actual earning
capacity to reach a "reasonable" judgment. 2 " Indeed, if awards were
actually made based on real future earning capacity, few spouses could
satisfy such awards out of current assets or credit.2 45 Some courts,
therefore, have limited the awards to the financial amount the spouse actually
contributed to the professional education.24 6 Such limitations clearly
cheat the recipient spouses out of the expected return on their
There are two problems with focusing on professional degrees as
property. First, such a focus reflects an inherent middle-class bias favoring
the value of contributions to education over the value of other
tions. The "new" property approach tends to have little meaning for
working-class couples who do not own large amounts of property and do
not have professional degrees to divide up. They will, however, have a
lifetime of earnings to share.
Second, even if it is appropriate to value education over other
contributions, only spouses who have financially supported their partner's
acquisition of education or skills can recover. Contributions at home may
be as supportive to a career as financing education. For example, the
young husband who stays at home to run the house, wash, clean, raise
children and entertain business clients frees his wife to devote full time to
her budding career. His emotional commitment to tasks such as child
rearing and entertaining may make him irreplaceable on the market.
The money contributed to education, however, could have been
borrowed on the open market at a fixed and known cost. In essence, courts
only reward those who contribute money, not those who contribute love
or time. Accordingly, those states that limit the "new property"
approach to financial contributions reward "breadwinners" at the expense
of "homemakers." These states thereby reaffirm the idea that economic
contributions are more valuable than homemaking contributions.
The tendency to focus on property is natural given the history of
divorce. Friedman argues that absolute divorce grew out of the need to
clear titles to property.2 4 7 Divorce law has long focused on property
division. This focus has centered on who contributed to the property.
Earners are able to make greater financial contributions, while the
contributions of homemakers are more easily overlooked because they are
harder to measure in monetary terms.
One way around that problem is to presume that the contributions are
equal because the spouses are partners. Interestingly enough, the UPA
makes no such assumption about the contributions of partners. It
provides for the partner who contributed capital to recover the full amount
of his or her investment.24 It is profits that the UPA presumes to be split
equally.2 4 9 Profits, by definition, amount to net income, not property.
Although it is clever to define income as property, it seems more
intellectually honest and fairer simply to admit that spouses expect to share
income when they are married.2 50 Thus we should adopt some form of
247. See Friedman, supra note 2, at 655.
248. See UPA § 18(a), 6 U.L.A. 213 (1914).
249. See id.
250. This idea of the marriage as a partnership that shares earnings is not new.
Suzanne Reynolds has traced it back to Spanish Civil Law. See Reynolds, Increases in
Separate Property and the Evolving Marital Partnership,24 Wake Forest L. Rev. 239,
249-52 (1989). Indeed, Reynolds argues that it was this notion of the partnership owning
the earnings of the spouses that formed the basis of separate and community property in
California. See id. at 252-58.
income sharing.2 51
Income sharing refers to a system in which the incomes of the former
couple would be added and divided by the number of people to be
supported. Each member of the family would receive an equal share.
Income sharing differs from traditional permanent alimony in at least two
respects. First, income sharing does not take the form of a fixed award of
a specific dollar amount. Indeed, income sharing is not fixed at any given
time. Instead, it recognizes the inevitable changes inherent in the
passage of time. Rather than fixing a specific award that can only adapt to
changed circumstances by court order, income sharing creates a formula
that automatically adjusts to changed circumstances. Such income
sharing should continue at least until remarriage, if not indefinitely.
Second, the theoretical basis for income sharing is quite different from
that of alimony. Income sharing is not based on need, pre-divorce
standard of living, prior contributions, or fault. Instead, it represents a
conscious effort to achieve equality between spouses who have divided their
labors during marriage. If spouses have not divided the labor, either
because they were not married long enough, or because they did not have
children, then income sharing should not apply.
The theoretical differences between alimony and income sharing have
very real practical effects. Although several courts have awarded
permanent alimony because of the disparate earning capacities of the spouses
and the resulting post-divorce standards of living, none of them have
divided all income equally. 252 Instead, these courts viewed themselves as
251. Indeed, Henna Hill Kay has suggested that attempts to treat others' income as
property may be a form of slavery in violation of the 13th amendment. See Kay, An
Appraisal of California'sNo-Fault Divorce Law, 75 Calif. L. Rev. 291, 312-13 (1987).
Moreover, calling income property creates accounting problems of valuation. See
Mullenix, The Valuation of an EducationalDegreeat Divorce, 16 Loy. L.A.L. Rev. 227,
25974 (1983). If, however, income sharing is merely a form of contract damages, these
theoretical and practical problems fade. It is simply a matter of adding the husband's income
to the wife's income and dividing by the number of people to be supported (2 in the case
of a couple without children).
252. See, e.g., Kulakowski v. Kulakowski, 191 N.J. Super. 609, 612-13, 468 A.2d 733,
734-35 (1982) (awarding permanent alimony because otherwise the post-divorce
difference in standards of living would be "grossly unfair," but leaving the husband with
postdivorce income of $90,000 per year and the wife with $24,000 per year).
Similarly, in Bullock v. Bullock, 354 N.W.2d 904 (N.D. 1984), the court noted that the
disparity in earning capacity justified a permanent alimony award of $14,400 per year to
an unemployed wife of an army officer who earned $50,000 per year. See id. at 911.
In Weir v. Weir, 374 N.W.2d 858 (N.D. 1985), the court stated that "[t]he awarding of
spousal support in this case is an attempt to provide an equitable sharingof the overall
reduction in the parties'separatestandardsof living .... ." Id. at 864 (emphasis in
original). The husband earned a salary of $79,392 per year. See id. at 865. With bonuses his
earnings reached up to $107,000 per year. See id. at 862. The wife was 44 years old, see
id. at 859, and unemployed, but hoped to earn $15,000 after a few years of education and
experience. See id. at 865. The final support order provided for $18,000 in maintenance.
See id. at 866. Thus the wife would have a total income of $33,000 annually, while the
magnanimous merely for granting permanent rather than rehabilitative
For example, in Mees v. Mees,253 the court considered the future of a
couple in their fifties who had been married for thirty-four years. The
wife testified that her husband recently had begun to abuse her
physically. The husband had an annual income of $16,600 per year, while the
wife netted only $6,600 annually. 25 4 The trial court granted the wife
monthly alimony of $75 ($900/year) for two years. 5' The wife
appealed, and the appellate court sustained the amount, but converted it to
permanent alimony because of the earning disparity between the parties;
the final result left the wife with an income of $7,500 per year, while the
husband netted $15,700 annually.
One of the real differences between income sharing and alimony is the
amount of discretion permitted the trial judge. Because alimony
standards are usually both vague and conflicting, judges have a tremendous
amount of discretion in setting the awards.25 6 Such discretion is
problematic because it leads to disparate results. Disparate results reduce
both confidence in the judicial system and predictability. 2 7
Judges rarely exercise their discretion to ensure equality of income.
Even judges who have expressed concern with the disparity of income
capacity have typically kept women at income levels half that of their
former husbands. 258 Although spousal support statutes typically list a
range of factors to be considered in setting support, not a single state
suggests that equality should be the goal of post-divorce support.
The Advantages of Income Sharing
Income sharing has four distinct advantages. First, it fosters the kind
of sharing and caring that should typify families. Second, income
sharing offers a way out of the fault conundrum. Third, income sharing
empowers the financially disadvantaged who may be economically trapped
in destructive relationships. Fourth, it provides a path to equality that
automatically adjusts to reflect the actual market situation of the parties
husband's net income would be $89,000 per year. The appellate court remanded for the
limited purpose of determining whether the husband was capable of paying so much
support in light of his other obligations.
253. 325 N.W.2d 207 (N.D. 1982).
254. See id. at 208.
255. See id. at 207.
256. See H. Clark, supra note 2, § 16.4, at 644.
257. Moreover, wide discretion without adequate guidelines makes the judge's task
much more difficult. Judges looking for guidance cannot even hope for much help from
the appellate courts, because the abuse of discretion standard of review is so deferential
that few cases will be reversed even when the appellate court strongly disagrees. See id.
258. See supra notes 251-252 and accompanying text.
1. Income Sharing as a Method to Foster Sharing and Caring
Shared income after divorce fosters caring in two ways. First, it
reinforces sharing as the model for family life. Law is not only a mechanism
to settle disputes. It also sets normative standards for how we ought to
behave.2 59 If the family is viewed as a shared enterprise for the common
good, our rules about income distribution within the family should reflect
The UMDA duty to get a job really begins during marriage. A
homemaker who waits until divorce to start working will be in considerable
financial straits. There is some correlation between earning power and
family decisional power.2 "° Therefore, encouraging women to work
outside the home during the course of the marriage may give them more
bargaining power within the marriage. Moreover, such women will be
much better off financially in the event of divorce. Some critics believe
that encouraging women to stay at home has relegated them to a separate
and inherently unequal position.2 6 1
That theory, however, adopts the view that economic productivity has
a greater societal value than caretaking functions. If we really believe
that homemaking and caretaking are valuable contributions, we ought
not to discourage them. Indeed, children are the real losers as more and
more homemakers join the paid work force.26 2 A California study
showed that seven out of eight married couples have children,263 and
women get custody of the children in approximately 90 percent of
uncontested divorces.2" Rather than encourage homemakers to take on more
of the earning burden, perhaps we should encourage earners to assume
more of the caretaking burden.
The homemakers' viewpoint is not very well represented in the legal
process. Legislators and legal scholars share a legal perspective.
Although many lawyers are also homemakers, we have chosen to be
earners too. More importantly, as lawyers, we are trained to anticipate
the worst and draft documents that will help to avoid problems before
259. See R. Dworkin, supranote 24, at 19-20 (arguing that a rule is different from an
order because a rule is normative and sets standards for behavior that affect the subject of
the rule beyond the mere threat of enforcement).
260. See, e.g., Hallenbeck, supra note 191, at 200 (balance of power in marriage
belongs to the spouse bringing the most resources to the marriage).
261. See, eg., Stark, supra note 193, at 1177 ("To the extent that couples conform to
male-breadwinner/female-homemaker stereotypes, the hardship for women is
262. Some proponents of equality are openly resentful of the needs of children and
view them as an inherent impediment to equality. See, e.g., Miller, supra note 171, at 36
("The early years ofchildrearing were very difficult.... I resented that degree of
involvement; it seemed to interfere terribly with the work I desperately wanted to achieve in.");
id. at 38 ("Indeed, [women's] concentration on, nay absorption with, children makes even
a low-level decent relationship, let alone an egalitarian one, difficult.").
263. See D. Funk supra note 22, at 546.
264. See L. Weitzman, supra note 6, at 227, 257.
they arise. Thus, lawyers naturally concentrate on the impact of divorce
rather than marriage.
If lawmakers assume that a marriage will endure rather than end in
divorce, they might understand a homemaker's choice to limit his or her
career to devote more time to the family. First, family relationships may
be more fulfilling than many jobs.26 For many Americans, work is
merely a means to live rather than an inherently joyful experience.2 66
Family ties, on the other hand, are more likely to be emotional ties.
Second, for families with substantial caretaking responsibilities for either the
young or the old, outside employment may cost as much or more than it
generates, because the median income for a married woman is $313 per
week.2 67 Thus, there may be strong financial incentives to adjust the
division of labor at home in order to maximize family income. Some
commentators have argued that we should discourage a traditional division
of labor.2 68 In reality, however, we have not changed the division of
labor, we have merely penalized both employed and unemployed
Income sharing may actually foster a more equal division of labor at
home. Currently, the UMDA encourages couples to maximize
individual profits. This creates an incentive for the party with greater earning
ability to shift homemaking tasks to the party who earns less in order to
If men and women earned equal amounts in the job market, there
would be a greater incentive to share homemaking burdens to avoid
jeopardizing either job. Therefore, income sharing provides divorced men
with an incentive to help eradicate gender discrimination in the job
market. Similarly, there will be a greater incentive to share the burdens of
childcare, as the economic burden will be reduced if each contributes
265. See generally V. Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927). There the wife and mother
always worked in the background, enabling her husband to be the brilliant scholar.
Nevertheless, it was the mother whom the children loved, and in his old age the father tried
to recapture the lost opportunity to enjoy his children with a belated expedition to the
266. Cf Stark, ForLove or Money?, 22 Psychology Today 18 (Feb. 1988) (less than
half of people surveyed listed interesting and meaningful work as most important job
criterion). See generally Dowd, Work and Family: The GenderParadoxand the
Limitations of DiscriminationAnalysis in Restructuringthe Workplace, 24 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L.
Rev. 79, 91 n.40 (1989) (study of dual career families showed that husbands' mental
health depended equally on job and life satisfaction while wives' depended on life
267. See StatisticalAbstract, supra note 62, at 406. It is difficult to pay the cost of
taxes, caretaking services, transportation, and a work wardrobe from such a small
268. See Stark, supra note 193, at 1179 ("The major premise of this Article is that
gender-based division of labor, in the marketplace as well as the home, is responsible for
women's impoverishment."); see also Kay, supra note 18, at 80 ("In the long run,
however, I do not believe that we should encourage future couples entering marriage to make
choices that will be economically disabling for women, thereby perpetuating their
traditional financial dependence upon men and contributing to their inequality with men at
enough childcare to enable the former spouse to earn an equal amount of
money. Most of the earning disparity between married men and married
women can be accounted for by the difference in their family burdens.16 9
If both spouses limit their careers to share the family labors equally,
both will suffer financial penalties in the job market. Income sharing
protects a spouse who devotes a relatively greater share of his or her time
to homemaking duties. Such a spouse will share in whatever economic
benefits or losses ensue.
Of course, the fact that we want to encourage sharing during the
marriage does not necessarily mean that we want to encourage sharing after
the relationship terminates. However, such income sharing may be the
only fair way to treat the parties. For example, analogizing to
partnership law, the UPA provides that partners are presumed to share profits
equally during the existence of the partnership.2 7 ° This provision sets a
norm that encourages both equality and sharing. In appropriate cases,
partners may be required to continue sharing profits even after the
partnership has dissolved. 71
On a more pragmatic level, income sharing enables both employed and
unemployed homemakers to take the time to provide the necessary
family services. Shared income may also allow the parent of young children
to devote full time to the care of his or her children.2 72
Finally, income sharing can address these changing needs without
re269. See Ellman, supranote 136, at 4 n.2. Thus, if men and women shared the
homemaking tasks equally, women would earn 90 percent of what men do, instead of 67
70% of $33 = about $23
$23 + $67 = $90
270. See UPA § 18(a), 6 U.L.A. 213 (1914).
271. "A partner may not dissolve a partnership to gain the benefits of the business for
himself, unless he fully compensates his co-partner for his share of the prospective
business opportunity." Page v. Page, 55 Cal. 2d 192, 197, 10 Cal. Rptr. 643, 646, 359 P.2d
41, 44 (1961). There are, of course, problems in determining the value of future profits.
See H. Reuschlein & W. Gregory, Handbook on the Law of Agency and Partnership 348
272. Indeed, this is hardly a radical idea. The UMDA currently provides for
maintenance for parents who care for young children. See UMDA § 308(a)(
), 9A U.L.A. 348
(1973). There are, however, three problems with the UMDA approach: (
) it does not
cover spouses who contribute household services other than childcare; (
) it is need
based; and (
) it fails to recognize that a spouse who takes time from his or her career
may suffer permanent economic penalties.
As we have seen, the conditions in the job market provide an incentive for women to
devote a higher proportion of their time to the household responsibilities of the couple.
Even childless couples need to cook, do laundry, clean house, pay bills, hire help, and run
errands. These chores are disproportionately performed by wives, at some expense.
There are no UMDA provisions to redress this problem.
Moreover, because the UMDA maintenance provisions are based on need, a
homemaking spouse who is barely making ends meet out of available property or personal income
is penalized for his or her role in the couple's division of labor. The non-caretaking
spouse is freed from substantial caretaking responsibility and is free to devote more time
sort to repeated court battles over need and changed circumstances.
Changed circumstances will be accounted for simply by continuing to
share the couple's available income. Of course, some methods of
enforcement will involve the court more than others. A system in which income
is withheld at source, as in the case of child support, would require little
court involvement or contact between the parties.
2. Income Sharing as an Escape from Fault
In the case of divorce, it seems that all roads lead to fault. The
drafters of the UMDA adopted the contract model of divorce to escape the
fault system.273 Ironically, a contract model leads right back to fault
when determining which spouse breached the contract. To avoid this
problem, the UMDA abandoned the contract measure of damages rather
than rethink the contract model. Although simple contract damages
lead inevitably to fault, a focus on fulfilling expectations of the parties
can avoid the fault morass, as the partnership model reveals. That seems
a particularly appropriate analogy, because both partnerships and
marriages are consensual relationships based on trust. Our concern in such a
relationship should not be who breached a mythical contract, but rather
how to approximate the expectations of those who entered into the
relationship, while preserving equality. Sharing income can achieve these
Income Sharing as a Form of Empowerment
Income sharing empowers those who are disadvantaged by the existing
division of labor by providing a means of escape to spouses who are
economically trapped in destructive marriages. For example, some
physically abused spouses may remain in their marriages because they are
unemployed, or because they care for young children and cannot support
themselves if they leave. One study found that a significant portion of
abused women who returned to their husbands did so because they had
no other place to go.274 By providing them with a source of income
reto producing a higher income. The caretaker, on the other hand, continues at the
The UMDA also fails to recognize that there are permanent financial penalties for
taking time out of a career. Necessary skills may become rusty and less marketable with
time. For example, a computer programmer who has taken five years out of a career to
raise children may find his or her knowledge obsolete. Even when he or she finds a job,
an unemployed person has less bargaining power over salary and benefits than a person
who is currently employed. Such a person cannot wait as long for the "right" job and
does not have a current salary to use as a base from which to bargain. Furthermore, a
break in service usually terminates valuable benefits that may vest over time, such as
pension and disability benefits. Even when the spouse again qualifies for such benefits, he
or she has fewer years in which to work and compile pension contributions.
273. See UMDA prefatory note, 9A U.L.A. 148 (1973) ("[The Act has totally
eliminated the traditional concept that divorce is a remedy granted to an innocent spouse,
based on the marital fault of the other spouse .... ).
274. See A. Jones, Women Who Kill 297 (1980) (citing sources).
gardless of their marketability, we reduce the financial obstacles to
leaving abusive spouses. 275
If income sharing empowers spouses to leave relationships, then
arguably it is a tool for divisiveness rather than sharing. That argument
ignores two important points. First, a good marriage is a community or
Gemeinschaft in which people stay because they want to, 2 7 6 not because
they are economically trapped. Second, by removing the penalty for a
division of labor that allows spouses to put a high priority on family, we
may encourage a commitment to family.
4. Income Sharing as a Route to Equality
Finally, income sharing provides a route to actual financial equality
between the spouses. Currently, there is a vast difference in the financial
impact of divorce on men and women. Income sharing would eliminate
that difference. Moreover, because income sharing considers the income
of both spouses, it automatically adjusts to the actual market situation of
the couple. If two spouses earned the same amount, no transfer would be
made. Any disparity, however, would be rectified. Accordingly, income
sharing does not assume inequality. One of the traditional criticisms of
alimony is that it condones economic disparity between men and women.
Income sharing, however, will work even when the millennium comes
and both sexes have equal earning power. Moreover, unlike the UMDA,
income sharing achieves equality without placing any stigma on the
party who earns less money.
Problems with Income Sharing
Hegel has been quoted as saying, "Whatever is reasonable is true, and
whatever is true is reasonable."2'7 7 Thus, we should be wary of income
sharing if for no other reason than the fact that so many people seem to
think it is so unreasonable. 278 There are some genuine problems with
income sharing that must be addressed.
275. Of course, income sharing is not a panacea for this problem because not all
families will be able to support two households on the available income. Moreover, the
financial obstacles are only part of the problem in abuse situations. A full discussion of the
problems of abuse is beyond the scope of this Article.
276. See generally Hardwig, supranote 31, at 445-46 (intimate relationships should be
ends in themselves rather than means to an end).
277. A New Dictionary of Quotations 1223 (H.L. Mencken, ed. 1952). Similarly,
Descartes has warned us not to accept anything unless we can be absolutely free from
doubt about it. See R. Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy 43 (J. Cottingham
trans. 1986) (1641).
278. Cf Kay, supranote 251, at 313 (criticizing treatment of income as property); see
also L. Weitzman, supra note 6, at 152 (Only 9 percent of women and 3 percent of men
thought that alimony should be paid because men had promised to support women for
life. Weitzman did not directly ask about either income sharing, or whether alimony
should be paid to achieve equal standards of living between the two.).
1. The Problem of the Clean Break
Some commentators criticize income sharing because it may deter
divorced couples from making a clean break with each other.2 79 Before we
can evaluate whether we should be encouraging clean breaks, we need to
consider who gets the break. Current rules that deny support to
homemakers trap them in marriages and provide a disincentive to make any
break at all. It is only earners who get a clean break from their
obligation to support their families.2 " To the extent that a clean break is
merely a euphemism for irresponsibility, we should not be encouraging
Nevertheless, commentators still view clean breaks as not only
desirable, but possibly even required. For example, Herma Hill Kay implies
that the problem of making a clean break may even approach
constitutional dimensions, citing Zablocki v. Redhail2,81 which held that
marriage is a fundamental right that the state cannot prohibit to people who
are unable to support their prior children. If Zablocki is read to mean
that it is unconstitutional to enforce any commitment to a prior
relationship, then all child and spousal support legislation would be
unconstitutional. That was not the holding of Zablocki. Zablocki merely held that
indigents cannot be prohibited from marrying.
To the extent that income sharing operates as a deterrent to creating
multiple families, that result is to be applauded. As one California court
said regarding traditional maintenance:
[a]s to deterring remarriage, we can only say that to the extent the rule
makes persons realize that they may not pursue their own pleasures in
utter disregard of an earlier marriage of 22 years that has produced
four children and a dependent spouse, it is to be commended rather
than faulted.28 2
When children are involved, a clean break is neither desirable nor
possible.2 83 Spouses must continue to deal with each other to arrange visits
and exchange information about the children. Indeed, a goal of family
law should be to foster a continued sense of family for the children with
both parents.2 4 Currently, most non-custodial fathers fail to maintain
279. See Kay, supra note 251, at 313, 318.
280. See Note, supra note 184, at 668 ("In fact, rehabilitative alimony allows divorcing
husbands to make a clean break but discourages wives from making any break at all.").
281. 434 U.S. 374 (1978).
282. In re Marriage of Ramer, 187 Cal. App. 3d 263, 273, 231 Cal. Rptr. 647, 652
283. See Glendon, FamilyLaw Reform in the 1980's, 44 La. L. Rev. 1553, 1558 (1984)
("[T]he idea of efflecting a clean break by dividing property between the spouses and
excluding maintenance after divorce does not come to grips with the fact that no legal
system has been able to achieve this result on a widespread basis because, in most divorce
cases, children are present and there is insufficient property.").
284. See Bartlett, Rethinking Parenthoodas an Exclusive Status: The Needfor Legal
Alternatives when the Premiseof the NuclearFamily has Failed,70 Va. L. Rev. 879, 909
(1984) ("Children of divorce who do not maintain contacts with their noncustodial
parcontact with their children.285 In fact, divorced fathers who contribute
financially are more likely to maintain an active interest in their children,
and vice versa.2 86 Thus, when minor children are involved, the difficulty
in making a clean break is actually an added benefit of income sharing.287
Income sharing does not necessarily prevent a clean break. The
parties involved may decide to make a clean break. Income sharing would
result only if the parties fail to agree between themselves. The parties
can enter into an agreement at the time of the divorce that settles their
financial dealings, including their obligations to share income. Even if
the parties decide not to share income, the provision gives the financially
weaker spouse increased bargaining power to negotiate a deal closer to
his or her original expectations. A spouse may be willing to forego
income sharing in return for a larger share of the property or a larger share
of income. Because most divorces are uncontested,2 8 8 this additional
bargaining power is one of the chief advantages of the income sharing
The Problem of Remarriage
The problem of the clean break is related to another troublesome set of
problems having to do with remarriage. Commentators have argued that
maintaining financial ties to a first marriage strains a second marriage2. 8 9
The response to this problem depends on one's view of the purpose of
income sharing. If the primary concern is equality, then new marriages
would simply be added into the formula to try to even out the standards
of living of the families. If, however, income sharing's primary goal is to
fulfill the parties' expectations, then income sharing should be terminated
In balancing equality and expectations, we must realize that
remarriage raises two related questions. First, we must consider whether
remarriage should terminate either the duty or the right to share income.
Returning to the partnership model, we need to look at the
expectations of the parties. The recipient spouse expected, at the time of the
ents suffer harm at every developmental stage; those who maintain ties with noncustodial
parents adjust more easily to their new situations." (footnotes omitted)).
285. See Chambers, The Coming Curtailmentof Compulsory Child Support, 80 Mich.
L. Rev. 1614, 1623-24 (1982) (noting that 52 percent ofthe children who lived with their
mothers had no contact with their fathers in at least a year).
286. See L. Weitzman, supra note 6, at 297-98.
287. Of course, there may be situations such as abuse in which we do not want to
encourage further contact. In such cases we should simply minimize the necessity for
such contact by arranging for payment through a third party, or withholding at source.
288. See Mnookin & Kornhauser, supra note 48, at 951.
289. See H. Clark, The Law of Domestic Relations in the United States § 14.9, at 457
(1968) ("Continuation of alimony in... [remarriage] only leads to discord by interfering
with the husband's support of a possible second wife, and by humiliating the wife's
second husband."); D. Funk, supra note 22, at 554 ("Where the law requires continuing
financial ties to the first family, the second marriage becomes one of 'his, her, and our
money,' a situation hardly conducive to marital harmony in the second marriage.").
marriage, to share income from one spouse, not two. Permitting the
spouse to receive income from both the current spouse and the ex-spouse
arguably creates a windfall.2 90 Thus, if we concentrate on expectations,
when a payor spouse remarries only that spouse's income is considered,
not that of a new spouse. Similarly, if expectations are our primary
concern, the recipient's remarriage terminates the payor's duty to share2 91
and the payor's remarriage does not entitle the recipient to any share of
the new spouse's income.
The second point of concern is whether the economic circumstances of
the new family should affect the amount to be shared. It would
completely defeat the purposes of income sharing to let the paying spouse
completely avoid his or her obligations by remarrying. To do so would
actually provide incentives for creating multiple families and would
exacerbate existing inequalities. The paying spouse would not have the
obligation to share income regardless of the state of his or her ex-spouse.
The situation of the recipient spouse is different.
mony terminated on remarriage.2 92
for necessities.29 3
Of course, that presumption is not necessarily correct.
The new spouse may not be able to provide for these needs. Even when
the new spouse can provide basic necessities, however, there certainly is
no guarantee that the new spouse earns as much as the prior spouse.29 4
Hence, we could still end up with substantial differences in the standards
of living.2 95 Some courts have recognized this problem by granting the
290. See H. Clark, supra note 2, § 16.5, at 657. At one time, Homer Clark saw the
duty to support a spouse as the quid pro quo for monogamy. See H. Clark, supra note
289, § 14.9, at 457. Apparently, one spouse buys fidelity in marriage, and must continue
to pay the price as long as the other spouse continues to be faithful, albeit celibate.
However, once the other spouse remarries, that spouse has resold his or her fidelity, and the
obligation to support ends. This view manages to blend notions of contract, fault and
need: a spouse (a) only contracted to have one spouse at a time; (b) is innocent as long as
he or she is celibate; and (c) will have his or her needs provided for by a new spouse. But
see H. Clark, supra note 2, § 16.5, at 663 (which seems to recant the connection to
291. There is, of course, the troubling question of whether the recipient should
continue to receive income while co-habiting, but unmarried. There are no easy answers to
this problem. On the one hand, we do not want to provide an incentive for co-habitation,
rather than marriage. On the other hand, we do not want to return to fault and punish
former spouses for sexual conduct. In any event, this problem is no different for income
sharing than for traditional alimony/maintenance.
292. See H. Clark, supra note 2, § 16.5, at 663.
293. See id.
294. A cynical market analysis could be made. Since the value in a market depends on
demand, the more available a product is, the lower the price it can command. Since
women outlive men, and the percentage of women in the population steadily increases
from birth, the older a woman becomes, the less valuable she is in the marriage market.
Thus, if a husband's earnings are viewed as the price of a wife, we would expect each
successive husband to earn less than the previous one. Similarly, men become more
valuable in the marriage market with age, both because they are scarcer, and because their
personal earnings increase with age.
295. Any resulting inequalities will be even worse if there are children from both
marright to receive maintenance even after remarriage.2 96 Indeed, one
reason for adopting the income sharing approach is to move away from the
need standard in alimony and move more directly to equality of financial
One reason that divorced men fare so much better than divorced
women may be that divorced men remarry sooner and are able to share in a
new spouse's income. 29 7 Thus, even if the original couple shares income
equally, the husband may have a higher standard of living. In some
states, a new spouse's income can justify an increase in support. 29 The
new spouse is not viewed as owing any duty to support a prior spouse or
children. However, the new spouse should be able to contribute to joint
living expenses, thereby freeing some of the divorced spouse's income for
additional support of the prior family.29 9
On the other hand, remarriage may increase the burdens on the paying
spouse. For example, a paying spouse may need to support a new family
and additional children. If the paying spouse must continue to share
income with an ex-spouse at the old rate, the new family may be
shortchanged. Thus, if we limit income sharing to the income of the original
couple, we may still end up with inequitable situations. If the primary
purpose of income sharing is to provide equality between the spouses, we
should simply equalize the standard of living of all affected households.
That would require income sharing that reflected the earnings of any new
spouses, as well as the earnings of the original couple.
The Problem of the Loafer
Income sharing may also seem unwise because it may encourage
dependency or even loafing. There is, however, a built-in incentive to work.
Any income either spouse earns increases the pool to be divided, so both
spouses will always be better off working.3" It is only in the rare
marriages. All the children of any given parent should have the same standard of living,
regardless of who the parent divorces or marries. See Shuba v. Division ofChild Support
Enforcement ex rel. Reese, 15 Fain. L. Rptr. 1518 (Del. Sup. Ct. Aug. 16, 1989) (best
interests ofthe child require that both marital and non-marital children are entitled to the
same amount of child support based on the father's standard of living).
296. See, e.g., Mottel v. Mottel, 664 S.W.2d 25, 27 (Mo. Ct. App. 1984); Gunkel v.
Gunkel, 633 S.W.2d 108, 109 (Mo. Ct. App. 1982). But see Greene v. Knukel, 729
S.W.2d 34, 35 (Mo. Ct. App. 1987).
297. See Goldfarb, supra note 133, at 369.
298. See, e.g., Gammell v. Gammell, 90 Cal. App. 3d 90, 93, 153 Cal. Rptr. 169, 171
(1979); Manaker v. Manaker, 11 Conn. App. 653, 655, 528 A.2d 1170, 1171 (1987)
(affirming the trial court's decision that a "housemate's financial resources [are] relevant in
determining the defendant's living expenses.").
299. See, e.g., In re Marriage of Ramer, 187 Cal. App. 3d 263, 272-73, 231 Cal. Rptr.
647, 651-52 (1986) ("The new spouse's earnings are considered available to defray
expenses of the new community and thus obviously increase the amount available for
payment of support."); see also H. Clark, supra note 2, § 16.5, at 662 ("If the second spouse
has income, that income should be taken into account in determining the resources of the
payer. . ").
300. Indeed, for years the federal government taxed some individuals at a rate of 50
riage where one spouse earns enough money to support two households
comfortably that there will be any disincentive to work. Even then, there
are very strong societal pressures to work. Jobs have become so central
to our lives that they nearly define our very identity.3 0 '
Some might argue that saddling an earner with a non-earning spouse
for life is a strict penalty for an improvident marriage. Indeed, the case
for income sharing is weakest in childless marriages of young people,
who have the time and the opportunity to improve their circumstances,
and in cases of those married a short time. Income sharing is a better
option in marriages that have lasted for many years because the spouses
have relied on each other and therefore restricted their options. This
problem can be solved by creating a grace period of three to five years 0 2
before a childless divorced couple is required to share income.
A more difficult problem arises when one of the spouses either refuses
or is unable to work. 33 Here, the partnership model might prove
helpful. Partners generally are not entitled to be reimbursed for their
services." ° Partnership law carves out an exception, however, for those
partnerships in which one partner does all the work. 05 There should be
a similar exception to income sharing. When a spouse is not contributing
anything, either homemaking services or earnings, he or she should not
be supported, absent a compelling excuse such as incapacity.
4. Special Problems in Low-Income Families
Income sharing presents different problems in low-income families. If
the original family was barely making ends meet on the available income,
increasing the number of households to be supported will result in
worsened poverty. If one of the households keeps the bulk of the available
income, only one household ends up in poverty. If, however, the income
is divided equally between the two households, then both households will
percent. Nevertheless, most people in this bracket not only continued working, they
continued trying to increase their income.
301. See M. Glendon, supra note 19, at 169.
302. New Zealand currently has different rules for dividing the property in marriages
that last less than three years. In these short marriages, the parties leave with what they
brought into the marriage. In longer marriages, the property is shared. See McCall,
Dissolvingthe Economic Partnershipof Marriage,14 U.W. Australia L. Rev. 365, 403-04
303. We tread a slippery slope toward fault when we try to enumerate legitimate
reasons for unemployment. Although age and opportunity provide useful guidelines, they
do not offer a panacea. For example, we might want to continue income sharing for an
older displaced homemaker, or a steelworker who can no longer find work. However, we
might be more reluctant to require a spouse to share income with an older unemployed
alcoholic or drug addict. Indeed, even a distinction based on health would not help, since
these conditions are considered diseases. We should not, however, presume that all
spouses can or should work. To do so would simply reinforce the financial value over the
caring value again.
304. See UPA § 18(f), 6 U.L.A. 213 (1914).
305. See J. Crane & A. Bromberg, supra note 16, at 376.
fall into poverty.3 °6
If we accept the market theory, which assumes that people regulate
their personal lives to maximize profit, forced income sharing would
create an incentive not to create second and third families. Unfortunately,
the decisions to marry, divorce, or have children are seldom so
rational.307 The problem of income sharing in low-income families can be
mitigated, however, by allowing individuals to retain enough separate
income to support themselves at a minimum level. For example, each
spouse's first five thousand dollars of annual income could be exempted
from any sharing requirement. Such an exemption would not only
prevent throwing two households into poverty, it would also prevent
complicated sharing arrangements when there were only minor differences in
the spouses' earnings. Of course, that solution might continue to
We face a dilemma when equality means increased poverty. This
outcome is not acceptable. No system of allocating resources within the
family can solve the problem of poverty. It takes redistribution of
income throughout society to even begin to address the problem.
Counter-Productive Incentives Created by Income Sharing
Income sharing might also create some new problems. First, income
sharing could discourage marriage. Many prospective spouses may be
deterred by the prospect of sharing income for life. If discouraging
marriage means that couples think harder about marriage and therefore take
the commitment more seriously, then income sharing is to be
If, however, not marrying merely means having less commitment to
the family one has already created, income sharing makes a bad situation
worse. Income sharing is designed to ease the burdens on homemakers
and to encourage responsibility. One solution to this problem, of course,
is to apply the same income sharing requirements to parents, regardless
of marital status. The wisdom of that suggestion, however, is beyond the
scope of this Article.
306. I am indebted to my colleague, Ellen Morgan, who gave me this insight in
307. See, e.g., S. Sheehan, supra note 66, at xi (At one point a caseworker asks the
welfare mother why she had nine children. "'He had been sure she had not had them
simply to get more welfare.... ' Anyone who had spent five years as a caseworker, as he
had, knew that life for... women like [this one] was far more a series of accidents, both
happy and unhappy, than popular wisdom realized. It was not in [her] nature to think
about what she was going to eat for dinner until an hour or so before dinnertime, and it
was not in her nature to go to bed with a man thinking that it might lead to an increase in
her welfare check."). Although middle-class families may do more planning, there is no
reason to believe that their decisions on these issues are any more rational.
308. Indeed, others have suggested that having high entry barriers to marriage may
result in a better sense of community within marriage. See D. Funk, supra note 22, at 551
(arguing that age and licensing requirements as well as waiting periods before marriage
encourages marital integration).
A more disturbing problem is that income sharing may make certain
classes of people less attractive marriage prospects. Thus, if an
individual knows that if he or she marries he or she will have to share income
with his or her spouse for life, he or she may be willing to marry only
people with equal or greater earning power. The result may be to
overvalue earning power and undervalue other desirable qualities such as
personal warmth and caring.
Second, spouses trapped by income sharing may resort to unacceptable
escape routes. Ann Jones argues that in times when divorces were
difficult or impossible to get, spouses turned to spousal homicide as a
solution. 09 While income sharing does not trap spouses in as difficult a
situation as does forced marriage, forced income sharing may fan the
fires of hate that sometimes rage between former spouses. Similarly,
Frances Olsen has warned us against intruding on an individual's
personal sphere with "forced community."31 Sharing income, however,
need not force a community on anyone. The financial transactions
required need not involve any more contact than paying taxes does.
Income sharing calls for a financial transfer that could be achieved through
impersonal means such as withholding at source, or electronic funds
Income sharing may also discourage divorce. Currently, courts are
reluctant to enforce any obligation to share income during the marriage,
even in relatively oppressive circumstances. For example, in McGuire v.
McGuire,"' the court refused to compel a relatively wealthy husband to
share his resources with his elderly wife even though they lived in a
rundown house without running water. If courts enforce income sharing
only at divorce, it could create an incentive to financially abandon
spouses rather than divorce them.
This problem arises from the difference in the way courts treat the
duty to share with a spouse in marriage and divorce. Rather than
abandoning the duty to share at divorce, we might more appropriately require
spouses to share during a marriage. Others have already made such a
proposal3.1 2 In any event, the problem is exaggerated because the
abandoned spouse is not prevented from obtaining a divorce. Unfortunately,
if a divorce occurs after the payor spouse has disappeared, an income
sharing order may not be very helpful. Indeed, the continual struggle to
collect support payments under the current system casts considerable
doubt on the efficacy of post-abandonment collection. More serious
enforcement methods are just beginning to be tried. Certainly, withholding
309. See generally A. Jones, supra note 274, at 76-139 (detailing instances of wives
murdering their husbands to escape unhappy or abusive marriages).
310. See Olsen, Statutory Rape: A FeministCritiqueofRights Analysis, 63 Tex. L. Rev.
387, 393 (1984).
311. 157 Neb. 226, 59 N.W.2d 336 (1953).
312. See, e.g., Krauskopf & Thomas, PartnershipMarriage: The Solution to an
Ineffective andInequitableLaw of Support, 35 Ohio St. L.J. 558, 586-91 (1974) (proposing that
husband and wife share equally in net income of family).
Income sharing is a model that accommodates many needs. It
provides a model for sharing that encourages spouses to care. Although
income sharing could be viewed as fulfilling the expectations of many
parties, it may or may not actually fulfill the expectations of any
particular couple. Of course, if income sharing becomes the legal standard,
parties will adjust their expectations and bargaining to fit it.
Income sharing is not a matter of contract. Rather it is a legal duty,
similar to the fiduciary duties of partnership, which society should
impose on spouses at divorce. It is a duty not because spouses have agreed
to assume it, but because of the mutuality inherent in the division of
labor within a marriage. It is a duty required to encourage sharing and
2. Defining the Terms of the Contract ................
3. The Effect of Contractual Families: Devaluing Caring and Sharing ...............................
4. Finding a Breaching Party: A Return to Fault ....
5. The Role of Privacy ..............................
1. The Role of Contract in Partnership .. .............
2. The Role of Fault in Partnership .. ................
3. Fiduciary Duties .................................. II. The Division of Labor: The Source of Duty ...............
1. The Maintenance Myths ..........................
2. Problems with the Existing Alimony Standards ....
c. Problems with the ContributionStandard ....... 549 550 551 552 553 555 556 557 559 560 562 564 565 566 568 569 570 570 570 571 d. Problems with the Standardof Living Approach to Alimony ....................................
1. Problems with Property Division as a Substitute for Alim ony ..........................................
2. Problems with Re-Defining Income as Property .... III. The Case for Income Sharing .............................
1. Income Sharing as a Method to Foster Sharing and Caring ...........................................
2. Income Sharing as an Escape from Fault ..........
3. Income Sharing as a Form of Empowerment .......
4. Income Sharing as a Route to Equality ............
1. Problem of the Clean Break .......................
2. The Problem of Remarriage .......................
3. The Problem of the Loafer ........................
4. Special Problems in Low-Income Families .........
5. Counter-Productive Incentives Created by Income Sharing ...........................................
17. Rucci v. Rucci , 23 Conn. Supp. 221 , 224 , 181 A.2d 125 , 127 ( 1962 ). Although courts may be less willing to articulate this attitude today, the impact of the current alimony rules creates a similar duty . See infra notes 153-154 and accompanying text.
18. Hernia Hill Kay notes the "disturbing tendency of trial court judges to cut back on already meager alimony awards and to limit even those awards to brief periods of time." Kay, Equality and Difference: A Perspective on No-FaultDivorce and its Aftermath, 56 U. Cin . L. Rev. 1 , 58 ( 1987 ) ; see , e.g., Ind.Code Ann. 31-1-11 .5 -1l(e)(2) (Burns Cum . Supp. 1989 ) (limiting permanent alimony to spouses who care for handicapped children); see also UMDA § 308(a ), 9A U.L.A. 347 - 48 ( 1973 ) (limiting alimony to spouses who cannot support themselves).
19. The contribution theory of alimony essentially sees alimony as a repayment for work performed during the marriage. For a discussion of the problems of the contribution standard , see infra notes 202-212 and accompanying text.
For a fuller discussion of the parallels between the employment relationship and the family relationship, see M. Glendon , The New Family and the New Property 143-46 ( 1981 ). Glendon points out that the master/servant relationship used to be considered as part of family law .
20. See L ,Weitzman, supra note 6 , at xii.
21. See Rucci v. Rucci , 23 Conn. Supp. 221 , 224 , 181 A.2d 125 , 127 ( 1962 ). Thus in finding such duties, the court referred to them as "the fair demands of the marriage contract . " Id. at 224-25, 181 A.2d at 127.
22. See D. Funk , Group Dynamic Law: Integrating Constitutive Contract Institutions 109-10 ( 1982 ).
23. See E. Durkheim , The Division of Labor in Society 212 (G. Simpson trans. 1933 ).
24. See Rutherford , Beyond IndividualPrivacy: A New Theory ofFamily Rights , 39
28. Id . at 271.
29. See F. Tonnies , Community & Society 33 -35 (C. Loomis trans. 1957 ).
30. Teitelbaum argues that the family is an emotional system which ideally provides unconditional acceptance . See Teitelbaum , Placingthe Family in Context, 22 U.C. Davis L. Rev . 801 , 817 ( 1989 ). For a discussion of the historical view of the family as a safe haven from the harsh economic world, see id . at 809-12.
31. See Hardwig , Should Women Think in Terms of Rights?, 94 Ethics 441 , 443 ( 1984 ).
32. See Areen , A Need for Caring (Book Review), 86 Mich. L. Rev . 1067 , 1075 ( 1988 ).
33. Olsen sees them as both firmly rooted in laissez-fairefreedom from state intervention and the triumph ofthe free market: "The basic assumptions that underlie arguments in favor ofthe private family are similar to those underlying the arguments in favor of the free market . " Olsen, supra note 25 , at 1504.
34. Men being, as has been said, by nature all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate and subjected to the political power of another without his own consent. The only way whereby any one divests himself of his natural liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society, is by agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst another .... J. Locke, Two Treatises of Government 168 -69 (T.Cook ed. 1947 ) (1690).
35. See Hillman , Misconduct as a Basisfor Excludingor Expellinga Partner: Effecting CommercialDivorce and Securing Custody of the Business , 78 Nw. U.L. Rev. 527 ,
67. Chalmers v. Chalmers , 65 N.J. 186 , 193 , 320 A.2d 478 , 482 ( 1974 ).
68. See generally Schneider, Moral Discourse and the Transformation of American Family Law, 83 Mich. L. Rev . 1803 , 1808 - 22 ( 1985 ) (discussing the decline of moral discourse in family law).
69. See Olsen, supra note 25 , at 1507.
70. For example, in State v. Rhodes , 61 N.C. (Phil. Law) 349 ( 1868 ), the court refused to protect a battered wife because it would have violated the privacy of the marital bedchamber . See id. at 353-54.
71. For a discussion of the various meanings of privacy, see Minow, We, the Family: ConstitutionalRights andAmerican Families ,in The Constitution and American Life 299 (D. Thelen ed. 1987 ).
72. See , e.g., Ind. Code Ann. §§ 31-6-8-1 , 31 -6-8- 1 .2, 31 -6-8- 1 .5 ( Bums 1987 ).
73. See Allen , Taking Liberties: Privacy,Private Choice, andSocial Contract Theory , 56 U. Cin . L. Rev. 461 , 465 - 66 ( 1987 ).
74. See supra note 13.
75. See UMDA § 307 , 9A U.L.A. 238 , 239 ( 1973 ) ; id . § 308 ( b ), 9A U.L.A. at 348. The comment to section 308 suggests that an inquiry into misconduct is irrelevant . See id. § 308 comment , 9A U.L.A. at 348.
76. See Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 347 .
The notions of fault and breach apply equally well to marriages. "[C]onsideration of fault ... may be based on sound and traditional principles of contract. Where two parties enter into a marriage contract to last until the death of either party and one party breaches that contract by an earlier termination of the marriage, general contract principles dictate that the breaching party bear the economic loss." Butler & Russell, Casting Stones: The Role of Faultin Virginia Divorce Proceedings ,20 U. Rich . L. Rev. 295 , 310 ( 1986 ).
77. See UPA § 18 , 6 U.L.A. 213 ( 1914 ).
93. Most partnership rules come from the UPA, which is currently in effect in 52 jurisdictions . See 6 U.L.A. (Cum. Annual Pocket Part) 1 ( 1989 ).
94. See UPA § 38 ( 2)(a)(II), 6 U.L.A. 456 ( 1914 ).
95. See id. § 38 ( 2 )(b), 6 U.L.A. at 456.
96. See id. § 38 ( 2)(c)(II), 6 U.L.A. at 456-57.
97. See Zeibak v. Nasser, 12 Cal. 2d 1 , 9 , 82 P.2d 375 , 379 ( 1938 ).
98. See Herman v. Pepper , 311 Pa. 104 , 108 , 166 A. 587 , 588 ( 1933 ).
99. See Lavoine v. Casey , 251 Mass. 124 , 127 , 146 N.E. 241 , 242 ( 1925 ).
100. See Schroer v. Schroer , 248 S.W.2d 617 , 622 (Mo. 1952 ).
101. See UPA § 38 ( 2)(c)(I), 6 U.L.A. 456 ( 1914 ).
102. For example , Zeibak v. Nasser, 12 Cal. 2d 1 , 82 P.2d 375 ( 1938 ), turned on whether Zeibak breached the partnership agreement because he refused to deliver documents that he had signed, or whether the Nassers breached the agreement because they froze Zeibak out of the business . See id. at 7-9 , 82 P.2d at 378 - 79 . This search for a single breaching party may reflect a false dichotomy since it frequently takes two to tangle. Nevertheless, the court was willing to affix blame. Although phrased in contractual terms, the court was really deciding which partner was at fault .
103. Anita Allen has condemned this use of privacy: "On the whole, women have had too much of the wrong kinds of privacy. They have had modesty, chastity, and family homes when what they have needed are the forms of privacy that foster moral independence . " Allen, supra note 73 , at 471.
205. Thus, the UMDA points out that it makes "allowance for the contibution ... of the 'homemaker's services to the family unit.'" UMDA § 307 comment , 9A U.L.A. 239 ( 1973 ).
206. See supra notes 132-134 and accompanying text.
207. See UPA § 18 (f), 6 U.L.A. 213 ( 1914 ).
208. "These profits constitute, in the absence of other agreement, the stipulated reward for services to be rendered, and there is no right to other compensation based on the reasonable value of the services actually rendered . " J. Crane & A. Bromberg, supra note 16 , at 376. Indeed, at least one court has held that the presumption of non-compensation only applies when partners equally share profits and liabilities . See Steinberg v. Goodman , 27 N.Y.2d 304 , 309 , 265 N.E.2d 758 , 761 , 317 N.Y.S.2d 342 , 345 ( 1970 ).
209. See UPA § 18 ( a ), 6 U.L.A. 213 ( 1914 ).
210. See id. § 18 (f), 6 U.L.A. at 213.
211. Id . § 18 , 6 U.L.A. at 213.
212. See id. § 38 , 6 U.L.A. at 456-57.
213. See J. Areen , supra note 175, at 594.
214. See Mnookin & Kornhauser, supra note 48, at 961; see also UMDA § 309 ( 3 ), 9A U.L.A. 400 ( 1973 ) (listing "the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved" as a factor in child support payments).
221. See I.R.C. § 71 (b) (alimony); id. § 71(c) (child support) ( 1988 ).
222. 191 N.J. Super . 609 , 468 A.2d 733 ( 1982 ).
223. Id . at 612 , 468 A.2d at 734.
224. See id. at 613, 468 A.2d at 735.
225. See id. at 612, 468 A.2d at 734.
226. See id.
227. See , e.g., UMDA § 308 comment , 9A U.L.A. 348 ( 1973 ) (" The... intention... is to encourage the court to provide for the financial needs of the spouses by property disposition rather than by an award of maintenance.").
228. See id.
229. See UPA § 38 , 6 U.L.A. 456 - 57 ( 1914 ).
230. See generally L. Weitzman, supra note 6, at 79 (many attorneys and judges surveyed expressed concern regarding liquidation of family home, "especially in families with minor children" ).
231. See Hillman, supra note 35 , at 533.
232. Accordingly , an American Bar Association committee has recommended that the UPA be amended to make forced liquidation more difficult . See Should the Uniform PartnershipAct Be Revised?, Report of the UPA Revision Subcomm. of the A.B.A. Part-
241. See , e.g., Batts, Remedy Refocus: In Search ofEquity in "EnhancedSpouse/Other Spouse" Divorces , 63 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 751 , 758 - 64 ( 1988 ) (enhanced earning capacity is property subject to distribution upon divorce).
242. See Wilson v. Wilson, 294 Ark. 194 , 204 , 741 S.W.2d 640 , 647 ( 1987 ) (medical degree and earning capacity not marital property, but goodwill from medical practice is); Daniels v . Daniels , 165 Mich. App. 726 , 731 , 418 N.W.2d 924 , 927 ( 1988 ) (medical degree part of marital property); O'Brien v . O'Brien , 66 N.Y.2d 576 , 580 - 81 , 489 N.E.2d 712 , 716 - 17 ( 1985 ) (same); Buckl v . Buckl , 373 Pa. Super. 521 , 526 , 542 A.2d 65 , 69 ( 1988 ) (partnership interest).
243. Consider a professional spouse age 40 earning $50,000 per year . Such a spouse would earn $1 , 250 , 000 over the next 25 years, presuming no increases in earnings, even for inflation. If the divorced spouse is entitled to half that income, he or she would have a right to a judgment of $625,000 .
244. See Krauskopf , Recompense for FinancingSpouse's Education: Legal Protection for the MaritalInvestor in Human Capital,28 U. Kan . L. Rev. 379 , 414 ( 1980 ) ("[T]he court feared that the desire to prevent unjust enrichment would lead to uncontrollably large awards.").
245. See , e.g., McNally v . McNally, 516 So. 2d 499 , 501 (Miss. 1987 ) (dentist who had just entered practice did not have enough income to pay his wife appropriate support).
246. See , e.g., Inman v . Inman , 648 S.W.2d 847 , 852 (Ky. 1982 ).