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

  • What Are the Odds? Man Wins $80 Million While Going Through a Divorce in Michigan.
    An Oakland County Michigan husband won $80 Million and while the divorce case was pending, the arbitrator issued an interim order to divide the proceeds. But the arbitrator passed away before the divorce was final.
  • Post-Nup: The After-Marriage Agreement
    Many couples are familiar with prenuptial agreements. The recent trend of post-nups has a lot of couples wondering what is a post-nup?
  • Can Divorce Papers Be Served Through Facebook?
    When one spouse files for divorce, proper legal service of divorce papers can be complicated when the address of the other spouse is unknown. Newspaper legal notices are the traditional service alternative in cases where the defendant spouse can't be located. But a new trend is emerging in which courts are permitting legal service on hard-to-find spouses through their potentially much easier-to-find Facebook accounts. Could starting the divorce process now be only a Facebook message away?
  • Same-Sex Family Law Matters
    Many New Jersey LGBTQ couples consider 2013 to be a landmark year. In that year, a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was overturned, and New Jersey recognized the right for same-sex couples to marry.
  • Palimony in New Jersey after the Latest Challenge
    A July 22, 2016 decision in New Jersey Superior Court, Lee v. Kim (Bergen County FM-02-1745-16), upholds the constitutionality of New Jersey’s 2010 law requiring cohabitation agreements, also known as “palimony” agreements, to be in writing. The case also stands as a good example of exactly why written agreements are necessary.
  • Raising an Olympian when You Are a Divorced Parent: New Jersey Child Support Guidelines
    Kids involved in athletics—as well as some of their parents—might experience a burst of inspiration from the current Summer Olympics. If you are a separated or divorced parent and your child wants to step up training in their sport to reach Olympian levels, you may wonder about your financial responsibilities. Are you required to fund things like advanced training, private coaches, tournaments, and travel costs ? And is your child’s other parent obligated to share these costs?
  • Same-Sex Marriage Effects on Family Law
    The Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage a constitutional right was the beginning of new societal norms; however, many in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community are still facing legal battles as state and local lawmakers hurry to address emerging legal issues. In just the first four months after the Supreme Court ruling, 96,000 same-sex couples were married.
  • Marital Home Purchased Before Marriage: How Is It Treated?
    When a person buys a home before he or she is married, this property is usually considered his or her own separate property. However, the other spouse may have a right to some of the home’s equity upon divorce despite this classification. Also, steps may have been taken so that the property is no longer considered separate and is now subject to division in the divorce action.
  • Summer Co-Parenting Tips
    In the eyes of a child, summertime stands for fun. Swimming, sleepover camp, long days, cool evenings, and vacation plans dominate their calendars. For children of divorced or separated parents, summer can be anything but fun if effective co-parenting skills fail. Those long days can become even longer when tension and disappointment fill the air.
  • Virginia Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Couples
    It has been common and expected that when a woman is receiving alimony payments from her ex-husband, he will no longer have to pay spousal support when she becomes engaged to another man. However, when that same woman instead becomes engaged to another woman, courts have ruled that the man must continue his spousal support payments in Virginia; that is, until a recent decision reversed this ruling.



Contact a Lawyer

Find a Local Lawyer