Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties (unlike annulment which declares the marriage null and void). Divorce laws vary considerably around the world but in most countries it requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process. The legal process for divorce may also involve issues of spousal support, child custody, child support, distribution of property and division of debt.
2. Types of divorce
Though divorce laws vary among jurisdictions, there are two basic approaches to divorce: fault based and no-fault based. However, even in some jurisdictions that do not require a party to claim fault of their partner, a court may still take into account the behaviour of the parties when dividing property, debts, evaluating custody, and support.
Laws vary as to the waiting period before a divorce is effective. Also, residency requirements vary. However, issues of division of property are typically determined by the law of the jurisdiction in which the property is located.
1) No-fault divorce
Under a no-fault divorce system, divorce requires no allegation or proof of fault of either party. The barest of assertions suffice. For example, in countries that require “irretrievable breakdown”, the mere assertion that the marriage has broken down will satisfy the judicial officer. In other jurisdictions requiring irreconcilable differences, the mere allegation that the marriage has been destroyed by these differences is enough for granting a divorce. Courts will not inquire into facts. A “yes” is enough, even if the other party vehemently says “no”.
The application can be made by either party or by both parties jointly.
2) At-fault divorce
Prior to the late 1960s, nearly all countries which permitted divorce also required proof by one party that the other party had committed an act incompatible to the marriage. This was termed “grounds” for divorce (popularly called “fault”) and was the only way to terminate a marriage. Most jurisdictions around the world still require such proof of fault. In the United States, no-fault divorce is now available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia–New York, the last state to still require fault-based divorce, passed a bill in 2010 permitting no-fault divorce.
Fault-based divorces can be contested; evaluation of offenses may involve allegations of collusion of the parties (working together to get the divorce), or condonation (approving the offense), connivance (tricking someone into committing an offense), or provocation by the other party. Contested fault divorces can be 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.