Heavy Lifting - thoughts and web finds by an economist
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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Ultimate in No-Fault Divorce

Some Muslim men only need say "I divorce you" three times to end their marriage? In some ways it is extremely efficient, no lawyers, no haggling over who gets to keep Aunt Melba's punch bowl. However, it seems too easy, especially when it is only the men who have the ability to exercise this "instant divorce." For many (perhaps less than libertarian) reasons this makes me uncomfortable.

Making divorce too "cheap" might encourage too much divorce, from a socially optimal point of view, but at the same time making divorce cheaper might increase the number of marriages. Individuals should be free to enter and exit contracts at their own discretion, and marriage is a form of a contract so the instant divorce is just one way to end that contract, unfortunately it is only the men that can exercise their option.

I suppose my biggest concern is when there are kids involved, at which point the (social) costs of casual divorce - that is divorce in which the husband wants to run off with the his dry-cleaner - seem to increase dramatically.

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