Should Marriage Matter?

32 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2012 Last revised: 5 Mar 2012

See all articles by Ira Mark Ellman

Ira Mark Ellman

Center for the Study of Law and Society, Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley; Arizona State University College of Law; Arizona State University (ASU) - Department of Psychology

Sanford L. Braver

Arizona State University (ASU) - Department of Psychology

Date Written: December 9, 2011

Abstract

This chapter from a forthcoming book brings together data from a series of empirical studies that ask a sample of American citizens about the legal obligations intimate partners should have to one another, when their relationship ends. (Ellman, Braver, & MacCoun 2009; Ellman, Braver, & MacCoun 2012; Ellman & Braver 2011; Ellman & Braver 2012). In particular, it draws together findings on the impact that a couple's marital status has on our respondents' views. In addition, this chapter reports for the first time on findings from another study in this same series that examined respondent views about the impact a couple's marital status should have on the allocation of their property at the termination of their relationship.

These data reveal that while Americans certainly give marriage weight in thinking about obligations between adult partners, they do not give it the overarching weight it often receives in American law. They do care about marital status, but they care more about financial inequality and about children. They view marriage as a relevant factor but not as a qualifying condition, and believe intimate partners can acquire legal obligations to one another without marriage as well as from marriage.

Keywords: marital status, cohabitation, alimony, child support, property division

Suggested Citation

Ellman, Ira Mark and Braver, Sanford L., Should Marriage Matter? (December 9, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1970427 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1970427

Ira Mark Ellman (Contact Author)

Center for the Study of Law and Society, Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720-2150
United States

HOME PAGE: http://csls.berkeley.edu/people/csls-affiliates

Arizona State University College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Phoenix, AZ
United States

Arizona State University (ASU) - Department of Psychology ( email )

950 S. McAllister Ave
P. O. Box 871104
Tempe, AZ 85287-1104
United States

Sanford L. Braver

Arizona State University (ASU) - Department of Psychology ( email )

950 S. McAllister Ave
P. O. Box 871104
Tempe, AZ 85287-1104
United States

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