The decision to file for divorce can be a difficult one. Most people believe that their marriages are solid but the sad truth is that many couples do get divorced. Every state has different laws to deal with divorce, so it is important for the individuals involved to be informed.
In a no-fault divorce, both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken with no chance of reconciliation. In a fault divorce, there is some type of concrete reason for the breakup of the marriage. Grounds for a fault divorce can include: adultery; desertion by one spouse for a period of time; abuse or cruel treatment; the habits of one spouse to abuse alcohol or drugs; the conviction of one spouse to prison; or the mental incapacitation of one spouse that can include hospitalization.
In some states, if a marriage is brief, produces no children, and there is little property or assets, the couple may qualify for a simplified divorce. Otherwise, there are many different issues that need to be decided in a divorce. Property division is usually awarded based upon “equitable distribution,” meaning that the property will be divided fairly but not necessarily equally in half. Some states follow the community property rule, which means that property is divided in half. Most states allow spouses to keep separate property, which is property acquired before the marriage.
Alimony or spousal support can be awarded based upon the financial needs of both spouses. If there are minor children in the marriage, child custody is a big issue. Physical custody is where the child actually lives, while legal custody is the right of the parent to make decisions about the child including education and religious practices. Custody can be awarded on a shared basis with visitation rights, joint basis, or sole basis if one parent proves to be harmful to the child. Child support is the responsibility of the parents to support the child financially.
Parties who wish to file for divorce should consult an attorney. Divorce can be an emotional and hostile process, and it is best to have the help of a legal professional.