Although the right to a divorce is not a matter of constitutional or legal right, various states permit it in order to benefit the public interest. In order to insure that a divorce is what both parties desire, it is not uncommon in several states for there to be a mandatory waiting period between the time of separation and divorce proceedings. This time is provided to enable both parties to examine the reasons they are seeking a divorce or consider reconciling with their spouse.

There are generally two types of divorces: Absolute and Limited. Limited Divorces typically refer to legal separation of the parties involved. In contrast, Absolute Divorce proceedings require some sort of evidence that one spouse was exhibiting misconduct or wrongdoing and result in a legal termination of the marriage. An Absolute Divorce means that both parties’ statuses revert to single as far as the law is concerned.

A third type of divorce available in some states is called Conversion Divorce. This means that a legal separation becomes a legal divorce after both parties have been separated for a period of time prescribed by the law.

As mentioned before, Absolute Divorces require a reason for the divorce such as misconduct or wrongdoing. However, recently, No-Fault divorces have entered legal terminology. In 2011 New York was the last state to enact No-Fault Divorce. In these cases, courts must find that the relationship is no longer viable, irreconcilable differences have strained the marriage, or the spouses’ personalities conflict with one another to prevent reconciliation, or the marriage is broken beyond repair.

After a divorce, the courts proceed to divide the property between both parties of the divorce. During property division proceedings, the court will recognize two categories of property: marital property and separate property. Marital property is anything acquired during the period of marriage and separate property is anything acquired by either party prior to marriage that did not increase in value significantly during the marriage through the actions of the other spouse. Even if the separate property is sold or traded for something else, the new possession is still considered to be in the separate property category.

Following divorce, one ex-spouse may find themselves paying alimony. The three types of alimony include permanent, temporary, and rehabilitative. Permanent alimony means one spouse is paying the other for the rest of their life or until the other spouse remarries or dies. Temporary alimony means that one spouse pays the other only until the other can thrive independently. Rehabilitative alimony refers to payments that enable a less “employable” or “lower earning capacity” to adjust to their new life after marriage. The purpose of alimony is to provide the same or a similar standard of living to which the spouse is accustomed. It is noted that child support is different and separate from alimony.

Child support refers to the payments by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent in order to contribute to the child’s basic living expenses and education. Most states do not enforce child support after the child has reached eighteen years of age. Child support is only applicable to one’s biological children and not to one’s stepchildren.

It should be noted that these are general legal statutes and may vary depending on the state that the divorce is taking place in.


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