Mothers, Myths, and the Law of Divorce: One More Feminist Case for Partnership

32 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2010

See all articles by Cynthia Lee Starnes

Cynthia Lee Starnes

Michigan State University College of Law

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

Family law's model of marriage as a companionate, egalitarian relationship in which spouses make equal or similar contributions to work and home does not reflect the reality of many marriages. The attractiveness of this simplistic model of equality lies partly in three supporting mother myths: mothering just happens, mothering is free, and mothering is for babies. Innocent as they may seem, these myths pose great danger for divorcing mothers by creating fictional baselines of appropriate behavior against which real mothers are judged. While the ALI has taken steps toward slaying portions of these myths, their ultimate demise depends on abandonment of the law's egalitarian model of marriage and adoption of a model that distinguishes between status and contribution. Such a model lies in the gender-neutral, equality-based principles and rules of partnership.

Keywords: Myths, mothers, caretaking, divorce, partnership, marriage

Suggested Citation

Starnes, Cynthia Lee, Mothers, Myths, and the Law of Divorce: One More Feminist Case for Partnership (2006). William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Vol. 13, No. 1, p. 203, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1723208

Cynthia Lee Starnes (Contact Author)

Michigan State University College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States
517-432-6899 (Phone)

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