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2004 U. Chi. Legal F. 353 (2004)
Making Marriage Matter Less: The ALI Domestic Partner Principles Are One Step in the Right Direction

handle is hein.journals/uchclf2004 and id is 357 raw text is: Making Marriage Matter Less: The ALI
Domestic Partner Principles Are One Step In
The Right Direction
Nancy D. Polikoff
The most contested issue in contemporary family policy in
the United States is whether married couples should receive re-
sources, support, and legal recognition denied to other family
forms.' The American Law Institute (ALI) stepped into this
cultural divide with the publication of its Principles of the Law of
Family Dissolution (Principles).2 The culmination of twelve
years of study, the Principles articulate a set of rules designed to
achieve fairness when a family dissolves. At more than 1,100
pages, the Principles address, in painstaking detail, the alloca-
tion of custodial and decisionmaking responsibility for children,
the payment of child support, the division of property, and the
transfer of funds as compensatory spousal payments.3 The provi-
sions concerning custody and child support assume a virtually
indifferent stance towards the marital status of the child's par-
ents.4 This, of course, mirrors current law. The Principles diverge
* Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law. I am deeply
grateful to my three research assistants, Amy Stewart, WCL 2004, Laura Astrada, WCL
2005, and Kelly Barrett, WCL 2005, for agreeing to help me follow my tangents wherever
they took me, even at a moment's notice.
1 For a paradigmatic face-off between these two perspectives, compare the Institute
for American Values, available online at <http'/www.americanvalues.org> (visited Apr 9,
2004), and the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, available online at
<http'//www.marriagedebate.com> (visited Apr 9, 2004), with the Council on Contempo-
rary Families, available online at <http'//www.contemporaryfamilies.org> (visited Apr 9,
2004),  and  the   Alternatives  to  Marriage  Project,  available  online  at
<http'//www.unmarried.org> (visited Apr 9, 2004).
2 Consider American Law Institute, Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution:
Analysis and Recommendations (LexisNexis 2002) (hereinafter ALI Principles).
3 Consider ALI Principles (cited in note 2).
4 See ALI Principles § 2.01 comment a at 92. (cited in note 2) (explaining that while
the rules of this chapter were written primarily to address disputes over children arising
during divorce proceedings, the same disputes arise between parents who were never
married and therefore these rules apply to them as well); id § 3.01 comment b at 410
(stating that [u]nder these Principles, a parent's support obligation to a child does not
vary according to the parents' legal or social relationship).


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