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

  • New Maryland Divorce Law
    Generally, divorcing couples in Maryland must be living separate and apart for 12 months before they can intiaite divorce proceedings. The separation requirement frustrates many of our clients who want to move on with their lives. Divorcing couples without minor children may not have to meet Maryland’s stringent separation requirement to obtain a divorce.
  • What Your Child Custody Arrangement Means for Your Tax Return
    You may be ready to start your taxes. You’ve collected your W-2, 1099’s and other documents. You have last year’s tax form for guidance. But, if you’ve gotten divorced in the last year, this year’s taxes may be very different.
  • Your Options When a Change in Income Makes it Hard to Pay Spousal Support in Pennsylvania
    Alimony in Pennsylvania is calculated based on a list of 17 spousal support criteria. These criteria are based on each spouse’s income during the marriage and at the time of the divorce. But, circumstances can change. Can alimony orders be modified if one spouse’s income changes significantly?
  • Finalizing a Divorce in Baltimore County
    One of the most frequent questions that divorcing couples ask is “how long will this take?”
  • New Maryland Divorce Law
    A new Maryland law will now make it easier for couples without minor children to divorce.
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support in Utah
    For parents, child support in the event of a spousal separation or divorce is one of the most serious issues that they will have to face. If you are a parent and are concerned about your rights to child support, or your child support obligation, the following answers some of the most FAQs about child support in Utah.
  • What Is an Incorporated Settlement Agreement in Divorce?
    In divorce orders and separation agreements, there may be terms such as “merged,” “survived” or “incorporated” that individuals without a legal background may not understand. However, these terms have very specific meanings and can have a big impact on the divorce.
  • Do I Have a Right to a Family Business in Divorce?
    When contemplating divorce, spouses may think about the family home, real estate, financial accounts and maybe even retirement accounts. However, one important asset that should also be considered is whether a family business may be subject to marital distribution.
  • Special Considerations for Gray Divorces
    When a couple gets divorced later in life, this is dubbed a “gray divorce.” Older individuals often have different issues to deal with during the divorce process than individuals of other age brackets. These special considerations include:
  • Why Should I Go through Divorce Mediation?
    Divorce mediation is an alternative to litigating issues. In some jurisdictions, mediation is required in all family law cases. However, mediation can also be proposed by one of the parties even absent the court’s order to participate in it.

Contact a Lawyer

Find a Local Lawyer