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Law professor comments on 'the end of alimony'

May 20, 2013

Professor Ira Ellman is quoted in an article, “The End of Alimony” in the May 27 issue of Time magazine.

The article, by Belinda Luscombe, discusses efforts around the country to eliminate permanent alimony, including a bill that passed the Florida state Legislature but was vetoed by the governor.

According to the article, eliminating permanent alimony “may be the biggest change to the way Americans see divorce since the 1970s.”

“Alimony is the most unstable area of family law,” Ellman told Time.

And while most people believe half of all marriages end in divorce, the real number is closer to 40 percent most experts agree, Luscombe wrote. Ellman said that the divorce rate has been dropping for the longest period in U.S. history, and is even lower among the college-educated.

Ellman discussed a study he conducted in 2011 with ASU professor Sanford Braver about the cases in which people think alimony should be awarded.

“What we found is that, when there is a longer relationship, people are indeed more inclined to think alimony is appropriate,” Ellman told Time. The study also found that people were more supportive of alimony if the couple had children, even though they the wives were already getting child support, but they had less sympathyfor women who had stayed home with their kids, but whose kids were now grown, left, the article states.

Ellman is the Charles J. Merriam Distinguished Professor of Law and affiliate professor of psychology. His current scholarly projects include an empirical investigation into how people make judgments about appropriate legal rules, and he has recently been awarded a large grant from an English foundation to extend that work to the United Kingdom. He is an affiliate faculty member of the Center for Child and Youth Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.