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Divorce and the Excess Burden of Lawyers

We present a model where divorcing spouses can choose to hire lawyers in their divorce process. Spouses encounter incentives as in the classical prisoners’ dilemma: Despite the zero sum nature of the game and the lawyers’ fees, each spouse has an incentive to hire a lawyer. We propose a simple institutional setting allowing for joint lawyers in order to overcome this socially inefficient situation. This model is estimated and tested with rich micro-data from court records. Employing a multiple treatment matching procedure we estimate the causal effect of lawyers on the division of matrimonial property, on the length of the divorce process and on the quality of the divorce settlement.

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File URL: http://www.econ.jku.at/papers/2007/wp0713.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series Economics working papers with number 2007-13.

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Date of creation: Jul 2007
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Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2007_13
Contact details of provider: Fax: +43 732-2468-8238
Web page: http://www.econ.jku.at/

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  1. Ashenfelter, O. & Bloom, D., 1990. "Lawyers As Agents Of The Devil In A Prisoner'S Dilemma Game," Papers 57, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  2. Jonathan Gardner & Andrew J. Oswald, 2006. "Do divorcing couples become happier by breaking up?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(2), pages 319-336.
  3. Orley Ashenfelter & Janet Currie & Henry S. Farber & Matthew Spiegel, 1990. "An Experimental Comparison of Dispute Rates in Alternative Arbitration Systems," Working Papers 647, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1997. "Match Quality, New Information, and Marital Dissolution," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S293-329, January.
  5. repec:att:wimass:9102 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Shavell, Steven, 1995. "Alternative Dispute Resolution: An Economic Analysis," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 1-28, January.
  7. Michael Lechner, 2002. "Program Heterogeneity And Propensity Score Matching: An Application To The Evaluation Of Active Labor Market Policies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 205-220, May.
  8. Casella, Alessandra, 1996. "On market integration and the development of institutions: The case of international commercial arbitration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 155-186, January.
  9. Andreoni, James A & Miller, John H, 1993. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma: Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(418), pages 570-85, May.
  10. Cooter, Robert D & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1989. "Economic Analysis of Legal Disputes and Their Resolution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1067-97, September.
  11. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
  12. Daniel F. Rubinfeld & Suzanne Scotchmer, 1993. "Contingent Fees for Attorneys: An Economic Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 343-356, Autumn.
  13. Orley Ashenfelter & Gordon B. Dahl, 2012. "Bargaining and the Role of Expert Agents: An Empirical Study of Final-Offer Arbitration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 116-132, February.
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