Definition of Divorce

Divorce is the legal process to end or dissolve a marriage. Historically, getting a divorce was very difficult. Spouses had to prove fault, which meant they had to prove their partner’s actions led to the end of the marriage. Grounds for a fault divorce include adultery, cruelty, abandonment, mental illness, and criminal conviction. All states now allow for no fault divorces. Couples must prove a ground for both no fault and fault divorces, but a no fault divorce is much easier to prove. For instance, the court will grant a no fault divorce for reasons such as irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, or separation.

Prior to divorce couples should complete several steps: discuss their marriage with a marriage counselor, review their financial position, understand how the divorce will affect their children, and talk to a divorce lawyer. New alternative dispute resolution techniques have also been developed which can be used to resolve specific conflicts in divorce. For instance, some courts will require couples to attend counseling or to use mediation or collaboration to resolve divorce issues before allowing them a court date.

Divorce differs from legal separation where couples may live in separate residences and divide their assets and property but remain legally married. Divorce lawyers can help couples discuss their divorce. Common issues that may be difficult for couples to resolve without legal help include division of property, child custody arrangements, and spousal maintenance.

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