The American Law Institute Principles and the Economics of Family Dissolutions

Melli, Marygold S.
In May 2000 the American Law Institute (ALI) approved a document entitled "The Principles of Family Dissolution: Analysis and Recommendations." The American Law Institute is perhaps the most prestigious private law institution in the United States. It is a national organization of judges, lawyers and legal academics, founded in 1923, for the purpose of improving the law. Its restatements of the law and model codifications of the law have been enormously influential in the development of the law in the United States. The approval of the Principles of Family Dissolution was an historic event for both the ALI and Family Law. For the ALI it marked the first venture by that body into the subject matter of Family Law and, therefore, focused the attention of that prestigious body away from the kinds of issues that traditionally it has dealt with – issues of wealth and power – to the kinds of problems that affect the lives of everyday people. For Family Law which historically has been an intellectual stepchild in the law – a messy area that the bench and bar have tried to keep away from – it was important because it brought that subject to the agenda of one of the most prestigious organizations of American law and subjected it to the process of examination and rationalization which has been the great contribution of the ALI. This paper gives a brief general description of the Principles, discusses some themes important to understanding them and then explores in more detail the economics of family dissolution as handled in the Principles ​
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