Problems still exist in New York’s temporary maintenance law

It has been over a year since unilateral no-fault divorce was adopted in New York. No-fault divorce, which now exists in all states, permits one spouse to receive a divorce by swearing that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for six months or more.

Ever since the law’s passage, it has had critics and supporters. The law, which includes a small provision about temporary spousal support (also known as alimony and maintenance), is currently being analyzed by the state’s independent Law Revision Commissions:  According to a Wall Street Journal article by Sophia Hollander, there are “troubling aspects” of the strict formula for awarding temporary spousal support. A report is due in April.

Temporary maintenance is awarded when the income of the “less-monied” spouse is less than two thirds the income of the spouse with the higher income. The formula calls for maintenance to be the lesser of a) 30% of the payor’s income minus 20% of the non-payor’s income or b) 40% of the combined income minus the non-payor’s income. Income for calculation of temporary maintenance is to be capped at $500,000, and judges are free to adjust amounts when the income exceeds $500,000.

The law aimed to protect the low-income spouse, but ended up hurting the affluent spouse by shifting income unfairly. At times, it even transformed the richer spouse into the poorer one.

The movement is to make the law less binding on judges and more advisory; however, the fear is that it will lose its effect.

Westchester Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, the primary sponsor of the alimony law, said, “[The 2010 law is] better for women.<Read More>

Wedding Laws in Afghanistan

How do you think Americans would handle having their wedding celebrations regulated and restricted by the government?  What if the government told you what you should wear to your wedding?  How many guests you could invite?  How much money you could spend?  How you could celebrate your special day?

Government officials in India and Afghanistan are both considering laws to limit the size and cost of weddings in an attempt to help alleviate debt and food waste. But according to The Guardian, the Afghan law would also mandate the creation of wedding committees, who would police ceremonies to make sure that brides are dressed modestly and men and women remain in separate rooms.

Afghanistan’s wedding industry has been on the rise over the past few years, and elaborate, glittery, and sometimes low-cut wedding gowns — decidedly not in compliance with Islamic sharia, as the new law would require — are par for the course. So are big pre- and postwedding celebrations, like henna night, which would also be out under the proposed law, which bans the gathering of large groups in wedding halls for other types of ceremonies.

The original rationale behind the law was apparently to keep young grooms from being plunged into debt after throwing a lavish wedding, but the morality elements put a new spin on it entirely. What do you make of it?… <Read More>

Do Straight, Unmarried, Cohabiting Couples Deserve the Same Treatment as Married Couples?

Two weeks ago, the British president of the Family Division, Sir Nicholas Wall, said the UK needs legislation to protect the 2.3 million unmarried, cohabitating couples if they split up. How does this affect the notion that whole point of marriage, in the most unromantic sense, is to legally bind assets and receive protection if the marriage dissolves. It’s the legal fine line between being married and living together.

Should this type of legislation come to the United States?

There are some couples who cohabit and go on to have successful marriages, it is a quantifiable fact that more cohabitations (between unmarried same sex couples) end than marriages.  Cohabitation is a less serious agreement than marriage. Only the two people in the relationship can decide if they’ve struck the right balance. But whether they have or haven’t, if cohabitating straight couples want the legal benefits of marriage, should they just get married?  Or, should they make a cohabitation agreement?

Visit the website for The Alternatives to Marriage Project to learn more about cohabitation without marriage.  Where do you stand?  What about your relationship?… <Read More>