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

  • How to Stop Child Support
    Every state recognizes that each parent is responsible for providing support for their children, whether the child lives with each parent or not. However, there are many circumstances when the family court should no longer have jurisdiction of the case or when child support should otherwise end.
  • What Assets Are Protected from Divorce Settlements
    Family courts around the country recognize that spouses own some property that is separate from what they accumulated as a marital couple. Those assets that comprise the marital estate are subject to division at the time of divorce while separate property is generally excluded from a divorce award.
  • Child Support Involving Surrogate Mothers
    The recent child support ruling against Sherri Shepherd, former co-host of The View, may set a new precedent for future divorce and child support cases involving surrogate mothers.
  • Statutes of Limitation on Back Child Support
    State laws determine how and when a person can be ordered to pay child support. Additionally, these laws dictate the window in which a person can collect arrearages.
  • Divorce and How it Affects 401(K) Plans and Retirement Funds
    401K and retirement, along with any other type of savings benefit or pension program that us meant for retirement, are all considered to potentially be marital assets, according to Florida law.
  • How to Get a Divorce Without Losing Your Life’s Savings
    Many people want to get divorced, but put off filing paperwork due to the costs associated. However, there are other ways to handle a divorce.
  • What is Separation in PA and Why Does it Matter?
    Pennsylvania does not have “legal separation” as the term is used in some other states. Separation simply means that spouses are either living in separate physical residences or that one spouse has filed a divorce complaint with the court and served it on the other spouse.
  • Are All Marriages Equal in Divorce Court
    The Supreme Court has acknowledged the validity of same sex marriage throughout the country. Of course, after parties get married, some of those parties decide to divorce. However, not all divorces are treated equally, because some of the doctrines surrounding divorce have traditionally been applied only to long standing heterosexual marriages.
  • Enforcing Grandparent Visitation Orders
    The negative effect divorce often has on relationships sometimes goes beyond the spouses and their children.
  • Proposed Legislation Effects Custody and Child Support Laws
    When there are children involved in a divorce, custody and how much child support is allocated are often important and provocative issues.

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