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Spring 2024 Seminar

Comparative Family Law: Marriage, Divorce and Property in American, Islamic and Jewish Law

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: No Exam

This seminar will explore selected topics on marriage, divorce and property laws in American, Islamic and Jewish law, and will also examine the interaction of Jewish divorce law and Islamic marriage contracts law with American courts. By applying some relevant theories and approaches such as New Home Economics (initiated by Gary Becker and his critics) and bargaining under the shadow of the law on selected family law issues, such as marital contracts, divorce and post-divorce distributive regimes of marital property and alimony, this seminar will comparatively examine the particular default rules, legal regimes, choices and solutions developed by each legal system on these issues, and will explore their impact on the positions and strategies advanced by various legal actors. Throughout our comparative study of the various approaches of these legal systems towards the economic relationship of spouses during marriage and at divorce, we will examine any possible convergence and divergence between these legal systems, as well as the potential of different legal theories for universal and particular application. By exploring the legal history, default rules and case-law aspects of selected family law issues from these legal systems, our comparative analysis will help us to examine whether the particular rules and choices made by each legal system are justified and whether any alternatives can be imagined, especially under the light of some of the challenges and demands present in the current legal reform debates in these legal systems. Readings will include law review articles and cases.