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Divorce explained

Divorce Explained

Divorce is the process of terminating a marriage, canceling the legal responsibilities of that marriage, and a dissolution of the matrimonial bonds between a couple under the laws of the jurisdiction they live in. Divorce is very different than an annulment. In an annulment, the marriage is deemed null and void. The divorce laws vary around the world. However, in most countries, a court or other legal authority must authorize it. There can be lots of different issues involved in a divorce, including:

  • Alimony (spousal support)
  • Child custody/visitation/support
  • Parenting time
  • Distribution of property
  • Division of debt

Though it is true that the divorce laws vary according to the jurisdiction, there are two basic approaches to divorce: fault and no fault. However, even in those jurisdictions where fault doesn’t have to be established, the court will consider the action of both parties when dividing up debt, property, determining child custody, and other issues. In some jurisdictions, one party may be required to pay the attorney’s fees of the other. Laws concerning the waiting period before a divorce is effective depends upon the jurisdiction. Also, residency requirements vary and property division is governed according to where the property is located.

Most jurisdictions require that a divorce be authorized by a judge in order for it to be effective. Though the terms of the divorce are determined by the court, pre- or post-nuptial agreements will most likely be considered. In the cases where the spouses made an agreement in private, the court will either approve it, or at least take it into consideration. However, in the USA, agreements must be written out in order to be effective.

Before the 1960s, nearly all countries required that one party give proof that the other one had done something to damage the marriage- which is an “at fault” divorce. This was the only way that a divorce would be granted. There was no such thing as a “no fault” divorce. Many jurisdictions still require proof to grant an “at fault” divorce. However, many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, United States, and Canada all allow for “no fault” divorce. In these cases, “grounds” for the divorce are not required to be established. Parties can contest an “at fault” divorce, but this can get very expensive and is typically pointless because most of the time, a divorce is granted anyway.

Grounds for an “at fault” divorce include:

  • Abandonment
  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Desertion

On the other hand, the only thing required to be claimed in a “no-fault” divorce is to claim “irreconcilable differences” or an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage.

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