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Divorce Laws And Grounds For Divorce

What Is Divorce

Divorce in legal terms is the dissolution or termination of a marriage under the rule of law of a particular country or state. It involves the cancellation and/or reorganization of the responsibilities and legal duties of the marriage partners thereby dissolving the matrimonial bonds between couples. Although the laws governing divorce vary considerably around the world, in most countries it involves a legal process and requires the sanction of a court judge or other authority.

Divorce may involve many issues such as alimony, distribution of property, division of debt and, if there are children involved, child custody, child access and visitation rights, child support and division of parenting time. In countries where monogamy is the law, each former partner of a dissolved marriage is free to marry another person. In countries where polyandry is illegal but polygamy is not, a divorced woman is allowed to marry a new husband.

A divorce must be ordered, or certified by a court of law before it can come into effect. The courts will also grant the terms of the divorce and the judge may take into account any pre- or post-nuptial agreements. The court may simply ratify privately agreed terms between the spouses. In the USA marriage agreements have to be in writing in order to be enforceable.

Contested Divorce

In absence of an agreement, a divorce may be contested, which can be extremely stressful to both spouses. Contested divorce happens when spouses are unable to agree on several issues, which then require to be heard at trial level by a judge. Typical examples are division of property, marital assets, or child custody. This type of divorce can be extremely costly and time consuming as lawyers have to be paid for their preparation and time and the litigation process takes a lot longer to conclude.


Divorce is not the same as annulment, which is when the marriage is declared null and void for various reasons. Dejure separation (or legal separation) is a process whereby a defacto separation may be formalized by a married couple while they remain legally married. Defacto separation is a process whereby a couple informally stops cohabiting.

Grounds For Divorce

Marriage may be viewed as a status, a contract, or a combination of both. Grounds for divorce are required and vary greatly from country to country and between jurisdictions. In most countries divorce is based on two common approaches: fault and no-fault. However, even though some jurisdictions may not require a marriage partner to claim fault by the other party, when dividing property and debts, or evaluating alimony, custody, child support and shared care arrangements, a court may take into account the behavior of parties during the marriage. Sometimes the courts will not apply principles of fault but may willingly hold one party liable for breach of fiduciary duty towards his or her spouse. Some states in the USA have no-fault divorce laws while others require one or both partners to declare fault and some states allow either method. In some jurisdictions the courts may force one partner to pay the legal fees of their spouse.

Divorce laws in certain jurisdictions may require a waiting period before a divorce is granted. Residency requirements may vary, however, property division issues will typically be determined by the jurisdiction in which the property is situated.


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