What is Divorce?

Divorce is the process of ending a marital union, therefore cancelling the legal duties and responsibilities of the marriage, according to the law of the country or state they are living in. A divorce and an annulment are two very different situations. An annulment declares the marriage to be null and void. Divorce laws vary around the world- however, most countries require a court or other legal authority to process it.

There are several issues that can be involved with divorce, including alimony; distribution of property/division of debt; child visitation/custody; child support; and parenting time.

Though it is true that laws concerning divorce do vary according to jurisdiction, there are two approaches: no-fault and fault. Even when the court does not require that fault be claimed, the actions of both parties is considered when dividing up debt and property, and determining child custody and support. In some states, one party may be required to pay the attorney fees of the other. Laws regarding waiting periods before a divorce vary according to jurisdiction as well.

In order for a divorce to be effective, it must be authorized by a judge or court order. In most cases, terms of the divorce are determined by the court, though pre- and post-nuptial agreements could be taken into consideration. Additionally, if the spouses make an agreement in private, the courts could simply approve those terms. If an agreement cannot be made between the spouses, it is considered contested and can be stressful on both spouses.

In the case of an “at fault” divorce, one spouse can raise- and must be able to prove- issues such as: adultery, abandonment, desertion, or cruelty. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, this was changed, and ultimately withdrawn, when “no fault” statues were created. When “no fault” is claimed in a divorce, the only requirement is a claim of “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage, or simply, “irreconcilable differences.”

In Europe and North America, the government defines and administers marriages, and therefore- divorce. Marriage ceremonies can be performed by religious officials on behalf of the state. However, it is possible to have a civil marriage, as well as a civil divorce. Due to the differences between standards and procedures, a couple can be legally divorced or unmarried- but their religious affiliation defines it differently. However, there are some countries that use religious laws to administer marriages and divorces, which takes the differences of opinion out.

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