Fundamentals of Divorce Law

Fundamentals of U.S. Divorce Law Copyright

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

  • Pennsylvania Divorce Proceedings with Visitation Rights
    When one spouse divorces the other in Pennsylvania, it is important to know what visitation rights are available to the parent without primary or full custody of affected children. Often the father is the one seeking visitation to see his kids and knowing what his rights in these matters and may provide him with the means to engage in parental activities.
  • Survivor Benefit Plan Award and Military Divorce
    When the military member faces divorce from his or her spouse, the usual process involves survivor benefits, retirement benefits or additional monies through accounts or other programs to the nonmilitary spouse. It is important for the military member to understand these situations, so he or she is not caught unaware.
  • Texas Child Support Modification and Enforcement: Answers to FAQs
    In Texas, there are strict limits on when parents can petition for a modification of child support. There are also strict penalties for violating child support orders. Learn what you need to know if you cannot meet your child support obligations or if your former spouse is refusing to pay.
  • What Does the OPM Have to Do with My Divorce?
    Retirement from government work may lead to complications with the division of assets when a federal employee divorces his or her spouse. It is vital for the worker to know how his or her retirement benefits and accounts could face such deductions from a former spouse after reaching and progressing through retirement.
  • Will My Ex Have Rights to My Government Benefits?
    When a military veteran enters retirement, his or her retirement accounts and benefits may face divisions for any ex-spouses attached to the situation. It is important to understand how this affects the former military service member and how much he or she will need to give to the other person as marital property.
  • USFSPA: Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act
    The intention of Congress in 1982 in creating the USFSPA was to ensure that former spouses of military members receive financial protection after the marriage is over. This Act could protect the former spouse through divisions in military retirement pay in becoming marital property when the couple dissolve the relationship.
  • Disabled Military Retirees May Pay Less to Ex-Spouses - U.S. Supreme Court Rules
    Changes in regulations for various types of pay and compensation reduce or increase often based on the rulings that occur through district and supreme courts. In the newest ruling, the amounts that military retired service members pay to spouses that divorced prior to or during retirement may decrease to support the veteran more and the ex-spouse less.
  • Problems Involved with Hiding Assets during a Pennsylvania Divorce
    During divorce, spouses may try to protect their assets from division by hiding them from the other spouse. This may be easier if the spouse has handled the couple’s finances for most of the marriage and the other spouse is unaware of the true extent of the marital estate. However, hiding assets during the divorce process can lead to significant consequences to all parties involved.
  • New Tax Laws' Impact on Virginia Divorce and Spousal Support
    Spousal support helps provide monetary assistance to a spouse who has less earning capacity or income than his or her spouse. State laws determine when to award spousal support and in what amount. However, other factors may influence whether spousal support is requested or agreed to by the parties, such as tax treatment. New tax laws may impact Virginia divorces and spousal support orders.
  • Military Pension Division in New York Divorce Cases
    One of the major issues involved in a divorce case is the division of the couple’s assets and debts. For many couples, a major asset is their retirement fund or pension. In some cases, these assets are subject to division in a divorce case. While this process is complicated enough on its own, there are additional complications when the couple involves a service member.

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