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Law and Economics of Alimony: marriage or divorce?

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Abstract

The shift to a no-fault divorce system has raised the question of the legal grounds for alimony. We show that some American legal scholars have found new justifications based on economics tools. One line of justification comes from the economics of the family and is based on efficiency and the resulting specialization of women in domestic activities. Another emerges from the economics of contracts and the partnership between the two spouses. These two approaches give rise to a theoretical debate between legal scholars. We show that this debate is more between two conceptions of alimony efficiency or contract, than between law and economics scholars. We conclude with a discussion of the complementarity of the two approaches.

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