Divorce

Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the ending of a marriage before the death of either spouse.

It can be contrasted with an annulment, which is a declaration that a marriage is void, though the effects of marriage may be recognized in such unions, such as spousal support or alimony, child custody, child support, and distribution of property.

Divorce laws vary considerably around the world. It is banned in Malta and in the Philippines, but an annulment is permitted.

In some jurisdictions, a divorce must be certified by a court of law, as a legal action is needed to dissolve the prior legal act of marriage. The terms of the divorce are also determined by the court, though they may take into account prenuptial agreements or postnuptial agreements, or simply ratify terms that the spouses have agreed on privately. Often, however, the spouses disagree about the terms of the divorce, which can lead to stressful and expensive litigation. Less adversarial approaches to divorce settlements have recently emerged, such as mediation and collaborative divorce, which negotiate mutually acceptable resolution to conflicts. In some other countries, like Portugal, when the spouses agree to divorce and to the terms of the divorce, it can be certified by a non judiciary administrative entity, where also can be served an Electronic Divorce since March 2008.

The subject of divorce as a social phenomenon is an important research topic in sociology. In many developed countries, divorce rates increased markedly during the twentieth century. Among the states in which divorce has become commonplace are the United States, Canada, and members of the European Union. Japan retains a markedly lower divorce rate, though it has increased in recent years.

Types of divorce

The approach to divorce varies by jurisdiction.

No fault divorce

Under a no-fault divorce system the dissolution of a marriage does not require an allegation or proof of fault of either party to be shown. Common reasons for no-fault divorce include: incompatibility, irreconcilable differences, and irremediable breakdown of the marriage. Forty-nine of the United States have adopted no-fault divorce laws. No-fault divorce has been in operation in Australia since 1975 and the only thing the applicant needs to show is separation (or "deemed separation") for 12 months. The divorce application can be made by both parties jointly.

At-fault divorce

Fault divorces used to be the only way to break a marriage, and people who had differences only had the option to separate (and were prevented from legally remarrying). In the United States, only the state of New York still requires fault for a divorce. All other states have adopted no-fault divorce statutes.

However there are ways (defenses) to prevent a fault divorce:

A defense is expensive, and not usually practical as eventually most divorces are granted.

Comparative rectitude is a doctrine used to determine which spouse is more at fault when both spouses are guilty of breaches.

Fault divorce can affect the distribution of property, and will allow an immediate divorce, in states where there is a waiting period required for no-fault divorce.

Residency requirements vary from state to state, and a spouse may separate, move to a state with divorce laws of their choice, establish residency, and file. However, this typically does not change the state in which property and other issues are decided.

Summary divorce

A summary (or simple) divorce, available in some jurisdictions, is used when spouses meet certain eligibility requirements, or can agree on key issues beforehand.

Key factors:

Uncontested divorce

It is estimated that upwards of 95% of divorces in the US are "uncontested," because the two parties are able to come to an agreement (either with or without lawyers/mediators/collaborative counsel) about the property, children and support issues. When the parties can agree and present the court with a fair and equitable agreement, approval of the divorce is almost guaranteed. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, they may ask the court to decide how to split property, deal with children, .

Collaborative divorce

Collaborative divorce is becoming a popular method for divorcing couples to come to agreement on divorce issues. In a collaborative divorce, the parties negotiate an agreed resolution with the assistance of attorneys who are trained in the collaborative divorce process and in mediation, and often with the assistance of a neutral financial specialist and/or divorce coach(es). The parties are empowered to make their own decisions based on their own needs and interests, but with complete information and full professional support. Once the collaborative divorce starts, the lawyers are disqualified from representing the parties in a contested legal proceeding, should the collaborative law process end prematurely. Most attorneys who practice collaborative divorce claim that it can be substantially less expensive than other divorce methods (regular divorce or mediation). However, should the parties not reach any agreements, any documents or information exchanged during the collaborative process cannot later be used in further legal proceedings, as the collabrative process is confidential proceedings. Furthermore, there are no set enforceable timelines for completion of a divorce using collabrative divorce.

Mediated divorce

Divorce mediation is an alternative to traditional divorce litigation. In a divorce mediation session, a mediator facilitates the discussion between the husband and wife by assisting with communication and providing information and suggestions to help resolve differences. At the end of the mediation process, the separating parties have typically developed a tailored divorce agreement that can be submitted to the court. Some mediation sessions can also include a neutral attorney or an attorney-mediator who can inform both parties of their legal rights, but does not provide advice to either. Divorce mediation can be significantly less expensive than litigation. . The adherence rate to mediated agreements is much higher than that of adherence to court orders.

History

Divorce existed in antiquity, dating at least back to ancient Mesopotamia. The ancient Athenians liberally allowed divorce, but the person requesting divorce had to submit the request to a magistrate, and the magistrate could determine whether the reasons given were sufficient. Although liberally granted in ancient Athens, divorce was rare in early Roman culture. As the Roman Empire grew in power and authority, however, Roman civil law embraced the maxim, "matrimonia debent esse libera" ("marriages ought to be free"), and either husband or wife could renounce the marriage at will. Though civil authority rarely intervened in divorces, social and familial taboos guaranteed that divorce occurred only after serious circumspection.

The Christian emperors Constantine and Theodosius restricted the grounds for divorce to grave cause, but this was relaxed by Justinian in the sixth century. After the fall of the empire, familial life was regulated more by ecclesiastical authority than civil authority. By the ninth or tenth century, the divorce rate had been greatly reduced under the influence of the Christian Church, which considered marriage a sacrament instituted by God and Christ indissoluble by mere human action.Canons of the Council of Trent, Twenty-fourth Session.

Religious/cultural attitudes

Many religions have varied attitudes towards divorce, ranging from prohibited to acceptable behavior. At times these religious attitudes may create a conflict with secular legal systems.

Implications of divorce

There are significant emotional, financial, medical and psychological implications of divorce.

Divorce laws in different countries

Different societies and legal jurisdictions have varying attitudes towards divorce.

References

Further reading

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This article is based on "Divorce" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Divorce&action=history