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Time for a National Divorce Law? Some Experts Think So

With a significant number of married couples getting divorced at some point in their relationship, divorce and separation-related laws are prone to affect millions of Americans every year. The vast majority of divorce and separation-related laws are determined by state law, not by national regulation. Perhaps a relic of a time when divorce was rare and most Americans grew old in the same state in which they were born, state laws regarding divorce or separation apply only within the respective states and can vary wildly from one another.

Recently, the United States Supreme Court decreed same-sex marriage shall occur nationwide, thereby regulating marriage and union in a national manner, as opposed to the previous state-by-state differences on same-sex unions and marriage requirements. Now, some experts are considering whether just as national marriage laws may better standardize the union of two individuals across state lines, national divorce laws may help promote equity across jurisdictions.

Laurence Kotlikoff, a Forbes magazine regular contributor and professor of economics and personal finance at Boston University, recently published his argument for national divorce laws in conjunction with Forbes. In his article, Kotlikoff reportedly notes that there can be a massive difference in how divorcing individuals will fare depending on the state in which they live, even if they married or lived a majority of their lives in a different state.

For example, Kotlikoff cites fictitious divorcees Joe and Sally and the question of alimony. Considering that the hypothetical Joe makes $200,000 per year and Sally $30,000, Kotlikoff points out that in Massachusetts, Joe could be ordered to pay his ex-wife over $59,000 in alimony per year indefinitely, while in Kansas, Sally would only be entitled to $38,000 per year for less than a decade. This wide disparity based solely on geographical region, Kotlikoff argues, is not only unreasonable and inequitable; it is economically disadvantageous. And when combined with the potential for gender-biased judges setting divorce agreements based on sometimes nonspecific state guidelines, the effects become even more unpredictable.

The United States’ irregular and regionally determined divorce laws are in stark contrast to those in other parts of the world. For instance, in the European Union, divorce laws are not only determined nationally but also are on their way to being standardized throughout the international cooperative. Comparatively, in the United States, divorce law and results of a separation can vary based on even just a few miles.

What Happens Now?

Divorce law, like many areas of legal regulation, continues to change and evolve. Whether you have lived your entire life in Florida or have just moved in, state divorce laws would be used to determine your divorce or separation agreement. If you are going through a divorce or separation, you may benefit from the advice of a qualified and experienced divorce attorney. If you’re anticipating a divorce or separation in your future, contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton at 561-391-9943 today to schedule a consultation.

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