Divorce law in the Northeast

Prompted by our post of yesterday about Virginia lawyer-legislators, commenter Hans Bader at his own blog nominates New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey as examples of how bad matrimonial law can get: “the more lawyers are in a state legislature, the more unfair a state’s divorce laws tend to be”. (OpenMarket.org., Jan. 2). Plus: our family law archives are here.


  • My brief experience with divorce law (as a practitioner) shocked me with examples of extreme unfairness toward men. What struck me as odd was that contra feminism, divorce law in Virginia seemed to treat women as damsels in need of lifelong support at exorbitant rates. As Hans Bader’s comments suggest, you could have a couple, both of whom are, say, high-paid lawyers, both with equal legal degrees and experience, etc., and yet the MAN would be the one to support the WOMAN, until by death do he depart. She could go on a lifelong vacation. Never happened the other way around. All of this is pretty typical of political correctness: women maintain all the benefits of sexist yesteryear, while gaining new advantages elsewhere. Men end up screwed. But since there are no “men’s movements” to speak of, and men are generally disfavored in the victim hierarchy, nobody says anything.

    My idea for reform was to make spousal support sunset. If a woman were truly a homemaker for years, she could, after a divorce at age 38, go back to school for a while to learn to support herself. So, make him support her for a few years until she reaches self-sufficiency. There is just no justifying the total windfall of her complete exit from the responsibilities of modern life in this day and age. And the modern reality of two-income families replaced the sole-breadwinner family decades ago.

    We could ask David Albo whether he could get started on this, but he’s currently busy trying to outlaw discrimination against homosexuals. That’s our Republicans!

  • AA,

    It’s actually, in some cases, WORSE than you describe. Go do a little looking on child support…

    Example: there is at least one case I know of where several of the children weren’t the husbands. Final result? He has no visitation (as they aren’t his kids), but he’s still paying child support for them… and his ex and the children are now living with the actual father of the children the husband didn’t father.

    Yes, “family” law in our country is completely, utterly, ridiculously psychotic.