Divorce Law

Divorce Definition

Divorce is the termination of a marriage by court judgment. A judicial decree is awarded declaring the marriage to be dissolved. It leaves both spouses free to marry again. Many states refer to it as Dissolution of Marriage. It is also referred to as Absolute Divorce, Divorce from the Bond(s) of Matrimony, Total Divorce and a Matrimonial Action.

Most divorces are obtained by agreement between both parties to the marriage, allowing the couple to progress through the court system fairly quickly and easily, some with and some without legal representation. There is a small percentage, however, that cannot come to a satisfactory agreement regarding termination of their marriage, nor the related issues.

These couples utilize full legal representation and must avail themselves of their states’ legal system in obtaining a divorce and reaching decisions regarding the related issues.

What is Divorce law? This practice area is a subset of Family Law and is dictated by state laws, statutes, rules, codes and common law. Therefore, the laws and procedures can vary greatly from state to state.

Divorce Law includes the following topics and legal areas:

- Child Support: A determination of the monetary obligation parents have for their minor children. This also addresses medical and/or health insurance coverage, school expenses and the like.

- Child Custody and Visitation: Operating in the best interests of the child, it must be decided whether a child of divorce will reside full-time or part-time with each parent, visitation schedules, holiday schedules, parenting time, etc.

- Spousal Support/Alimony/Maintenance: Often one spouse will be required to provide monetary support to the other spouse for a finite period of time. Many factors are involved in determining the type of support that should be awarded, as well as the amount and the length of time it should be paid.

- Division of Property and Debt: Whether a state is a “community-property state” or an “equitable distribution state” is a large factor in determining what is marital property and what is separate property, and how property and debts will be distributed in a divorce proceeding. Other factors, such as spousal support and child support often come into play as well.

- Separation: State law varies on the recognition of legal separations, and how the topics above will be handled when a couple separates and/or when a divorce/dissolution is pending.

The Divorce Law Center on HG.org provides in depth coverage of divorce law, procedures and all its related topics for the individual U.S. States. In addition to all the topics listed above, our Divorce Law Center also offers resources, information and links covering the Fundamentals of Divorce Law; Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions; Covenant Marriage Law, Legal Grounds for Divorce; Annulment Law; individual State Resource Links and Divorce Law-related Articles.

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Know Your Rights!

  • Can I Get Alimony After My Divorce is Final?

    Sometimes, after a divorce has been finalized and a court has issued its final judgment or decree declaring the marriage severed, one of the spouses finds that they need spousal support.

  • How to Get an Annulment

    For those who have only been married for a short time, the question of whether an annulment is available versus a divorce is a common question.

  • How to Get Divorced Without an Attorney

    Filing for divorce does not have to be a hostile event. If you and your spouse have simply drifted apart and decided it is time to move on, there is no reason that a divorce needs to be a contentious battle full of expensive legal fees. In fact, it is possible to get a divorce on your own without an attorney.

  • The Pros and Cons of an Uncontested Divorce

    Ending a marriage is never a simple process. However, it can be simpler in some situations when the spouses are able to remain civil and agree between themselves how to divide the marital assets, deal with custody and support issues, and handle any other matters.

  • US Divorce Law and Statistics

    If you are going through a divorce, much of the terminology and general process of divorce can be confusing and intimidating. Understanding the fundamental concepts of the American divorce system can help you in navigating through the process of divorce or legal separation.

  • What is Alienation of Affection?

    Divorces are commonly very messy affairs, with hurt feelings and concerns about the future leading former lovers to take very aggressive and hurtful actions against one another. But, when another person is involved, the matter can become even more heated, and in some jurisdictions the adulterer may actually face civil liability under a cause of action called alienation of affection.

  • What is the Difference Between Separation and Divorce?

    Often we use terms like separation and divorce almost interchangeably, but in many jurisdictions these terms can have very different legal significance. Indeed, there are even differences between separation and legal separation.

  • What To Do When You've Decided It's Time To Get A Divorce?

    The decision to end a marriage can be a very complicated one. Emotionally it may be painful, a relief, or a complicated mixture of both sensations. Practically, many things need to take place before the process can be finished and you can begin to move on with your life.

Articles on HG.org Related to Divorce Law

  • Tragic End to Child Abuse Case
    The recent case of a three year old Broward County, Florida boy, has brought national attention to the flaws throughout the countries child protection services. In this tragic recent case, the body of a three year old child was found dead in the laundry room of his father’s house with his body covered in bruises and cuts, reflecting long term abuse of this child.
  • Will Maryland Courts Recognize Same Sex Infidelity as Adultry
    Maryland legalized same sex marriage by popular vote in 2012. The Supreme Court has this year acknowledged the validity of same sex marriage throughout the country. However, some of the doctrines surrounding divorce were traditionally applied to long standing heterosexual marriages and it is unclear how those doctrines will be applied to same sex marriages.
  • What Is the Time Limitation for Taking a Child Out of the Country?
    Family law cases can often be emotionally straining. Sometimes, one parent is given primary custody at the objection of the other parent. The non-custodial parent may attempt to become the primary custodian by removing the child from the state or country, making it more difficult for the other parent to find him or her and to enforce the order.
  • Modifications to an Ohio Divorce Decree
    The only constant in life is change, and changes in life circumstances and the lives of your children may warrant a post-decree modification of divorce orders.
  • Division of Business Ownership or Professional Practices in an Ohio Divorce
    How is the marital interest in a spouse’s closely-held business or professional practice established and divided during the course of a divorce or dissolution in Ohio? How do you protect the ongoing operations of the business or the professional practice while ensuring that a spouse receives appropriate compensation for their marital interest in the company or practice?
  • The Difference Between a Dissolution and a Contested Divorce in Ohio
    The two primary legal vehicles to bring a marriage to an end in Ohio are a “dissolution” and a “contested divorce.” The key difference between the two options lies in the resolution of all issues contained within the “Settlement Agreement.”
  • Can I Challenge Final Decision Making Authority?
    In Georgia, a judge can designate or parents can decide on which parent will have final decision making authority. This authority extends to certain important aspects of the child’s life.
  • Child Custody After Common Law Marriages
    Common law marriage used to be much more widely accepted than it is today. Today, only a handful of states recognize common law marriage. But, in those states that do, what is the process for child custody when the spouses separate?
  • In a Breakup, Who Gets Custody of the Dog?
    For many couples, a dog is just like a child. So, when a breakup or divorce happens, it can signal the beginning of a battle over custody of the dog. What does the law say? Who gets custody of the dog? Will a court even hear such a case?
  • Pet Custody: The Battle For Fido Rages On
    One of the more amorphous concepts in the family law arena is the treatment of a pet subsequent to divorce.
  • All Family Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Family Law including: adoption, alimony, child support and custody, child visitation, collaborative law, divorce, domestic violence, elder law, juvenile crime, juvenile law, juvenile probation, paternity, pre-nuptial agreement, separation.

Individual State Divorce Laws

Divorce Law - US

  • ABA - Divorce Law by State

    The Family Law Quarterly publishes these charts in conjunction with the annual "Family Law in the Fifty States Case Digests." The charts summarize basic laws in each state by topic, including custody, alimony and grounds for divorce.

  • ABA - Family Law Section

    The Section of Family Law has over 10,000 lawyer, associate and law student members across the country and worldwide. Our members are dedicated to serving the field of family law in areas such as adoption, divorce, custody, military law, alternative families, and elder law.

  • Divorce and Separation - Overview

    A divorce formally dissolves a legal marriage. While married couples do not possess a constitutional or legal right to divorce, states permit divorces because to do so best serves public policy. To ensure that a particular divorce serves public policy interests, some states require a "cooling-off period," which prescribes a time period after legal separation that spouses must bear before they can initiate divorce proceedings.

  • Divorce Law - Wikipedia

    Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the termination of a marriage, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between two persons. In most countries, divorce requires the sanction of a judge or other authority in a legal process to complete a divorce. A divorce does not declare a marriage null and void, as in an annulment, but divorce cancels the marital status of the parties, allowing them to marry another.

  • Marriage and Divorce Abroad - US Department of State

    Many U.S. citizens choose to marry, or obtain a divorce while traveling or living abroad. There are things you’ll need to know if you do choose to marry or divorce while out of the U.S. We hope the information below will be helpful to you.

  • State Residency Requirements for Divorce

    Most states require at least one spouse, usually the one filing the divorce petition, to be a resident of the state for a period of time prior to filing for divorce there. Some states require domicile, which means you met a set of standards less demanding than residency requirements to show that you plan to live in the state. Other states require that you be a resident of the state for a specific time period before filing for divorce.

  • Uniform Divorce Recognition Act

    A divorce obtained in another jurisdiction shall be of no force or effect in this state if both parties to the marriage were domiciled in this state at the time the proceeding for the divorce was commenced.

  • Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) Procedural Guidelines

    The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) is one of the uniform acts drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. First developed in 1992, the NCCUSL revised the act in 1996 and again in 2001. The act addresses non-payment of child support obligations and limits the jurisdiction that could properly establish and modify child support orders. It has been adopted by every U.S. state. In 1996, Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (42 U.S.C. § 666), which required that states adopt UIFSA by January 1, 1998 or face loss of federal funding for child support enforcement.

Divorce Law - International

  • Canadian Divorce Act

    Divorce in Canada is governed by the Divorce Act. Most divorces in Canada are based on one year separation. Note that 'living separate and apart' does not necessarily mean living in separate homes - you can be separated but share the same home for various reasons (children, money, etc.). For example, let's say that your spouse moved out of the house three months ago. However, your marriage actually broke down and was essentially over nine months ago. Your actual date of separation may be nine months ago, rather than three months ago.

  • International Divorce

    People spend more time overseas than ever before. They might marry a foreign national in one country, parent children in another, and own a business in a third country. Our world is becoming a smaller place and this will have increasing impact on the analysis a matrimonial lawyer must bring to a new case.

Organizations Related to Divorce Law

  • Americans for Divorce Reform

    Americans for Divorce Reform was founded in 1997. We have helped people get involved in the movement for divorce reform through our web site, e-mail lists, radio, print and television interviews. We want to: Tell the public, lawmakers and the media what's wrong with divorce. Help people get involved in state-level efforts to pass divorce reform laws. Give people the information, statistics, analysis and drafting help that they need in order to advocate divorce reform in their states.

  • Divorce HQ

    Collaborative professional organizations are groups of multi-disciplinary professionals committed to resolving divorce cooperatively. The organizations you will find in this directory are not private practices, but rather networks of professionals who have joined together with a mutual commitment to the ideals of the collaborative method of divorce.

  • International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

    The IAML is a worldwide association of practising lawyers who are recognised by their peers as the most experienced and expert family law specialists in their respective countries. The Academy was formed in 1986, inspired in part by the success of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, an organisation founded in 1962 to improve the practice of law and administration of justice in the area of divorce and family law in the USA.

Publications Related to Divorce Law

  • Journal of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

    The Journal of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is an on-line law review and digest that endeavors to publish timely articles on family law and related topics, that have not previously been published elsewhere. The Journal is the brainchild of Charles C. Shainberg of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a Past President of the Academy, and has been in development for over three years.

  • Matrimonial CaseLaw

    Matrimonial CaseLaw provides up-to-date, cross-referenced case notes, citations, analysis, and citable concepts of New York State divorce law.

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