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27 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 67 (2003-2004)
Alimony: Peonage or Involuntary Servitude

handle is hein.journals/amjtrad27 and id is 77 raw text is: Alimony:
Peonage or Involuntary Servitude?
Alfred J. Sciarrinot
Susan K. Duke
In this Article, the authors address the issue of the determination of
alimony, spousal support, or- maintenance.
I. Introduction
Most spouses contemplating divorce must be prepared for economic
suicide. The income that marginally maintained one middle-class house-
hold will most surely not be able to maintain two. This is especially true
where one spouse is not yet or never has been in the workforce. Never-
theless, though at least one judge has stated that he views divorce as a
luxury,' as applied to the division of spousal economic resources, it is
often a necessity before one or the other spouse breaks down mentally,
emotionally, or physically. Although this Article does not deal with some
of the most important issues facing divorcing spouses-child custody,2
'B.A. (1971), State University of New York at Geneseo; M.A.R. (1982), Yale
University Divinity School; LL.M. (1983), University of Wisconsin Law School.
Professor Sciarrino is an Associate Professor of Business Law at the State University
of New York at Geneseo.
**B.A. (1992), Evergreen State College; J.D. (1995), University of SanDiego School
of Law. Ms. Duke practices primarily matrimonial and family law in New York state.
'The lead author overheard this rather insensitive, flippant remark made in the pres-
ence of the parties and their attorneys during a pretrial conference. This judge threatened
that if the case was not settled a trial would be necessarily costly. The judge stated that
he would appoint a legal guardian for the children at a rate of $5000, which would have
to be paid up-front so that bankruptcy would provide no relief.
2-See In re Marriage of Dennis, 117 Wis. 2d 249, 344 N.W.2d 128 (1984). The
Wisconsin Supreme Court stated that
the public might well wonder by what legal legerdemain one can equate a court order
directing [a] parent to take alternative employment to support his children to
involuntary servitude.... To compare the enforcement of the obligation of a
parent to support a child with slavery lacks appreciation for the social desirability
of the former and the social monstrousness of the latter.
Dennis, 344 N.W.2d at 134. However, not allowing a putative father to challenge
paternity if he later discovers that the child is not his, and requiring the father to continue

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