course logo Written Assignment:
Marriage and Divorce
due February 22

Half the class will answer question 1 (Nadine to Faiza); and the other half, question 2 (Lisa to Norma). If you want to switch to the other question, someone in the opposite group must agree to trade with you. Answer all questions; when referring to the readings, cite properly, including page numbers and a full citation at the end of the assignment.

1. Marriage: Read the online article “Same-Sex Marriage: The State of the Law,” by Patricia Novotny & Gwynne L. Skinner (1998); skim the timeline of court cases. Then answer the following questions:

In the case Jones v. Callahan, the Appellate Court stated that the Kentucky statutes did not define marriage, so the court adopted a definition it said was based on “common usage.” How do you think marriage should be defined? Explain what conceptions of marriage are presented in the two articles we read for this unit. Does society—the law—have a stake in defining and regulating marriage? Why or why not? Explain how assumptions about the nature and purpose of marriage affected the decisions in the two cases we read (Jones v. Callahan and M.T. v. J.T.). Discuss two contemporary issues that raise major questions about how the courts define marriage—the issue of same-sex marriage and one other issue described by Deborah Rhode. Explain the key legal questions raised by these two issues and describe how you think the issues should be resolved.

2. Divorce: Read the online debate on no-fault divorce between Katha Pollitt and David Blankenhorn. Then answer the following questions:

Divorce—the dissolution of a marriage—is obviously closely tied to assumptions about the nature and function of marriage. Using the article by Carbone and Brinig, explain the difference between fault-based divorce and no-fault divorce. Which is based on a contract model of marriage? Which relies on a restitution-based system of awards? Taking into consideration Deborah Rohde's discussion of divorce and all the proposals about divorce presented in the Carbone and Brinig article, describe what you see as the major issues faced by the legal system in trying to establish a fair and equitable way to dissolve a marriage, to divide property, and to protect the interests of children as well as spouses. Where do Pollitt and Blankenhorn stand on these issues? How do you think these issues should be resolved?
Daniel McCarthy <>
Barbara F. McManus <>
HON303/WMS303 Topics and Assignments I
February 2000