In the United States, married couples are allowed to end a marriage by filing for fault or no-fault divorce. In the past, most states only granted fault-based divorces, but today every state has adopted a no-fault form of divorce. Divorce in the United States is a legal process in which a judge or other authority dissolves the existing marriage between two persons. Divorce restores people to single status and allows them to marry other people.
In the United States, marriage and divorce fall under the jurisdiction of state governments, not the federal government. A divorce formally dissolves a legal marriage. While married couples do not have a constitutional or legal right to divorce, states allow divorces because doing so is in the best interest of public policy. To ensure that a particular divorce serves the interests of public policy, some states require a cooling-off period, which prescribes a period of time after legal separation that spouses must endure before they can initiate divorce proceedings.
When the court grants a divorce, the property shall be divided equally (not always equally) between the two spouses. This is decided under the Equitable Distribution Act. During the divorce, both spouses have to report to the court their income and any debts they owe. Make sure you are, in fact, eligible for divorce before you file, especially if the marriage was recent.
Most states require at least one party to be a resident for a few months (often 90 days). Many states also impose a no-fault divorce waiting period, up to two years in some states. In addition, some states that do not recognize same-sex marriage also do not grant same-sex divorces. This may change as this area of law evolves rapidly.
In this section, we provide general information about what to expect from the divorce process, especially when you have children. For more information, you can watch a series of short videos about divorce in Spanish with English subtitles on our video page. If you would like to learn more about the divorce laws specific to your state, select your state from the drop-down menu above or to the left. What are the basic steps to file for divorce? What happens to child custody and support after filing for divorce? Can I remove my children from the state once a divorce has been filed? Where can I find additional information about divorce? What are the basic steps to file for divorce? What happens to child custody and support after filing for divorce? Child Support The primary caregiver of the child (the parent with whom the child lives most of the time) can usually file for a temporary child support order while the divorce is pending.
Most states have a specific formula that the judge must follow when issuing a child support order. Go to our Child Support section to see if we have additional information about child support in your specific state. Can I remove my children from the state once a divorce has been filed? Once a divorce is filed, most states have “automatic orders” that go into effect so that no major changes occur while the divorce is pending. Automatic Orders Limit Parties' Behavior and Actions.
A common automatic order is that neither parent can remove the child from the state (jurisdiction) for a period of time while the divorce is pending, unless the judge or other parent gives their consent. Where can I find additional information about divorce?. Most, if not all, states allow spouses to represent themselves in divorce matters (known as appearing pro se. Although there are few states in the United States that do not have residency requirements, most states do require that one or both of the divorcing spouses be residents of that state for at least a specific period of time (depending on the state) to be eligible for a divorce.
Grounds for fault-based divorce often include adultery, extreme cruelty (physical or mental), and abandonment. For example, if a couple buys a house, but only the husband's name is on the deed, the wife would still be entitled to part of the value of the house if they divorced. Your first encounter with the United States court system may occur when you are facing a divorce, except for the few times you appeared in court for violating traffic laws. The National Bar Association was instrumental in convincing the American Bar Association to create a family law section in many state courts, and vigorously pushed for a no-fault divorce law around 1960 (cf.
Once a divorce is filed, most states have “automatic orders” that go into effect so that no major changes occur while the divorce is pending. For many, it is also much more convenient and allows spouses to have greater control over the timing of divorce. If you need a temporary order but did not file your application at the time you filed for divorce, you will need to file for a temporary order as soon as possible. In addition to being less contentious and quick, uncontested divorces are often much less expensive than litigious ones.
The respondent has the option of disputing the grounds for the divorce (if it is a guilty divorce), the pleadings of the petition, or asserting any disagreement regarding property, support, custody, or any other matters related to the divorce. If you think you could file a fault-based divorce (or if your spouse has already filed it), consider consulting with a lawyer seeking a fault-based divorce can be much more complicated (and harder to win) than a no-fault divorce. It is best to inform yourself about separation requirements as soon as possible. If you do not meet your state's separation requirements, a court may deny your divorce petition or put your case on hold.
Only three states (Mississippi, South Dakota and Tennessee) require mutual consent (in Tennessee it is only needed in certain circumstances) for a no-fault divorce to be granted. . .
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