What is Divorce?


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Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the final termination of a marital union before the death of either spouse. When you file a petition to terminate your marriage it means canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between you and your partner. In simple terms, divorce takes place after a couple decides not to live together anymore as husband and wife. They sign legal papers that allow them to live single again. After divorce, it becomes legal to plan for re-marriage for both husband and wife.

Divorce should not be confused with legal separation. In legal separation division is made between the property and assets of each spouse but here termination of marriage does not take place. Whereas a divorce case includes issues such as dividing up both physical and monetary property, arranging for custody of the children, and planning out parental duties. Divorce laws vary considerably around the world but in most countries it requires the order of a court or other authority to make it legal.

Divorce in the United States

Like marriage, divorce in the United States is the province of the state governments. There is no role of the federal government in issues related to termination of marriage. Divorce laws vary from state to state. The legal process for dissolution of marriage in the United States involves issues of spousal support, child custody, child support, distribution of property and division of debt and so on.

Different Types:

In the United States, there are different types of divorces such as No-fault, At-fault, Summary, Uncontested, Collaborative, Mediated and Civil Courts. Each of the types has its own set of rules and regulations.

No-fault:

Here, there is no need of any allegation or proof of fault of either party to terminate a marriage. Currently, all states of the United States except New York have adopted such laws. Some of the grounds on which couples can go for no-fault divorce are incompatibility, irreconcilable differences, and irremediable breakdown of the marriage.

At-fault:

This form of divorce occurs when one party is blamed by the other and is regarded as the main cause for divorce. One party to the marriage must have done something that made the other step forward to end the marital union. Most of the US states offer at-fault divorce solution in some form or other, but there are strict rules and regulations. Typically most of the US states have a set list of reasons that can be alleged for at-fault divorce. Some of the commonly accepted reasons are extramarital affairs, abuse (emotional and physical), abandonment, unhappy sexual life; one partner is in prison for a certain length of time and so on.

Summary:

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Also known as simple divorce, it is granted in some jurisdictions, when spouses meet certain eligibility requirements, or can agree on key issues beforehand. Some of the key factors include Short marriage (under 5 years), No children (or, in some states, they have resolved custody and set child support payments), Minimal or no real property (no mortgage), Marital property is under a threshold (around $35,000 not including vehicles) and each spouse’s personal property is under a threshold.

Uncontested:

This is the way most people prefer to terminate their marriage. It is estimated that 95% of divorces in the US are of this type. Here both the parties come to an agreement (either with or without the help of lawyers/mediators/collaborative counsel) about the property, children and support issues in a very simple manner. Also this is an inexpensive way to end your marriage. It is also an easy and simple manner to end your marriage and that too with dignity.

Collaborative:

In this form couples negotiate an acceptable agreement with the help of attorneys who are trained in the collaborative process and in mediation. A collaborative divorce may also involve other professionals, such as child custody specialist or accountants. Normally, both spouses and their attorneys sign an agreement that requires the attorneys to withdraw from the case if a settlement is not reached and the case goes to court. It is substantially less expensive than other divorce methods and decisions are made based on the needs and interests of the couples who wish to end their married life.

Mediated:

For couples with children, this is the best kind of divorce. Here the couple, with the help of the mediator who can be attorneys, works out agreements on issues such as Distribution of Property (Assets/Liabilities), Child Custody and Parenting Time, Child Support/Maintenance, Retirement, Taxes and so on. In this kind of divorce, the role of the mediator is to keep the lines of communication open, brainstorm ideas, reality test the couple, teach empathy and assist the couple in their decision making process. Mediated process is flexible and confidential and helps the divorcing couples to work together as parents.

Top Reasons

In America, almost 50% people who get married end up being divorced. But what is the reason behind this shocking statistics? In America, financial factor is regarded as the number one reason behind most of the cases. Another top reason for most American divorces is when a couple couldn’t get along. Adultery is also a key reason behind divorce with an estimated quarter of marriages dissolving due to this prime reason. Lack of commitment to the marriage, lack of communication between spouses, abandonment, alcohol addiction, and substance abuse, physical abuse, falling out of love and criminal behavior and incarceration for crime are some of the other reasons cited as the reasons behind termination of marriage. It has also been found that sometimes both partners want to end the marriage, and sometimes one wants it while the other one doesn’t.

It might sound simple to plan to go for divorce, but in reality planning for it is not easy for a husband and wife. Before filing a petition, most couples need to spend some time trying to solve problems that have resulted in an unsuccessful marriage.

The U.S., divorce statistics show that the rate of divorce have been rising since the beginning of the 20th century, and especially since the 1970s, when no-fault law was instituted. But is divorce the right solution every time? It is a painful process for all concerned. While it can take adults time to regain psychological equilibrium, it takes longer time for children to recover from the mental and emotional torture caused by the whole process.


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