Fundamentals of Divorce Law





Fundamentals of U.S. Divorce Law Copyright HG.org

Divorce Law Basics

The legal termination of a marriage is referred to by different names, Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage being the two most well-known. Couples seeking a divorce must obtain one via a court judgment, after which they will be awarded a judicial decree which declares that the marriage is dissolved. After a divorce has been legally finalized, both parties are free to remarry, pending time restrictions in some jurisdictions, which vary.

Divorce orders may address various issues depending upon the specific circumstances of the parties to the divorce, such as whether there is property to be divided and/or children for whom provisions must be made. Therefore, when applicable, these orders may deal with matters such as property and bill division, alimony or spousal support, child custody, visitation, and child support, as well as any other pertinent matters that the court judges to be relevant and necessary.

When a divorce action is initiated, it may be brought by either or both parties and may be contested or uncontested. When both spouses desire the divorce and are able to come to an agreement on the relevant issues, they may obtain an uncontested divorce, which allows them to proceed through the court process far more easily and quickly than when there are unresolved issues. These uncontested divorces are the most common. Quite often these types of divorces are obtained without legal counsel.

A smaller group of married couples, though, are unable or unwilling to reach an agreement with regard to the termination of their marriage and the ensuing issues. These contested divorces take a great deal longer, make it necessary to retain legal counsel, and usually require judicial intervention to come to a conclusion and obtain orders regarding the relevant issues.

Each state creates its own laws, codes, statutes and rules for handling the termination of a marriage as well as the other associated factors. Common law in each state also plays a role. Because of this, there is no uniformity, and instead divorce laws, policies and procedure often vary greatly from one state jurisdiction to the next.


Divorce Law Basics by State

Divorce Law Articles

  • Common Stress Factors that Lead to Divorce
    Marriage is one of the most difficult relationships to maintain, and often requires a great deal of effort from both spouses.
  • Financial Warning Signs of a Divorce
    Often a spouse has no idea a divorce is forthcoming.
  • Steps Women Should Take Before Getting a Divorce
    Before plunging into the waters of divorce, women can take several steps to help make the process easier. Decisions made immediately prior to divorce can have a financial impact for years to come.
  • Financial Planning for College
    College planning in divorced families can be a challenge. But a family law attorney can assist you during the process of financial planning for your child’s educational expenses.
  • Steps to Take Before Getting a Divorce
    As much as getting a divorce is an emotional decision, it is also a financial decision. Once someone has made the decision to pursue a divorce, he or she should immediately take steps to safeguard his financial and legal interests.
  • Pregnancy and Divorce
    Pregnancy can be a time of great joy for couples, but it can also be a time of tremendous stress. What happens if a couple gets a divorce (or is in the process of divorcing) while the wife is pregnant? There are many unique legal issues raised under these precarious circumstances.
  • Divorce and Illness
    Two researchers from Iowa State University and the University of Indianapolis have released the findings of a study funded by the US National Institute on Aging.
  • Discouraging Adoption Fraud and Misrepresentation / Duty to Report Abuse and Guarding of Confidentiality
    Especially in the case of adoption, the Code specifically requires an attorney to actively discourage adoption fraud or misrepresentation and prohibits the attorney from engaging in such conduct.
  • Setting and Communicating Attorney Fees
    Both Codes require that an attorney enter into a written fee agreement with a client and requires the attorney to carefully explain and ensure that the client understands the fee agreement. The fees collected by an attorney with respect to an adoption or surrogacy cannot be illegal or unconscionable and must be commensurate with the services provided.
  • Appraising All Parties of Their Rights and Obligations
    Adoptions and Surrogacy Agreements raise substantial ethical considerations. Particularly in the case of Surrogacy Agreements, the parties are essentially contracting with one another for the use of another woman’s uterus.

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