Changes in the Economic Consequences of Divorces, 1958-2008

30 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2009

Date Written: January 6, 2009


This article, part of an issue that surveys changes in family law over the past 50 years, discusses how the economic consequences of divorce have changed during this period. This article surveys some of the various social changes that have had an impact, such as changes in the divorce rate, changes in the characteristics of divorcing couples, and changes in women's participation in the work force. Some family law legal changes are also discussed, such as the acceptance of equitable distribution and changes in rules applicable to spousal support. Other legal changes are mentioned, such as the acceptance of premarital agreements, the adoption of Medicare, and the acceptance of no-fault divorce.

The article notes that some very general consensus seems to be evolving regarding child support awards and marital property rules. In contrast, very different (and frequently unclear) standards are applied across the country regarding spousal support. The article discusses recent developments in Canada regarding the adoption of advisory spousal support guidelines as one potential avenue to increase predictability of spousal support awards in the U. S.

Keywords: divorce, equitable distribution, alimony, spousal support, guidelines

Suggested Citation

Oldham, J. Thomas, Changes in the Economic Consequences of Divorces, 1958-2008 (January 6, 2009). Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 3, 2008, U of Houston Law Center No. 2009-A-1, Available at SSRN:

J. Thomas Oldham (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States

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