After traffic citations, divorce is the next most frequent cause of our personal familiarity with the court because about 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce and some experience that severance of the socio-religious contract of marriage more than once.
Divorce law varies in the details by state but there are some common statutes that all states share.
Rarely does a divorce occur in which both parties are mutually satisfied with the disposition of settlement regarding the division of assets, the responsibilities for debts, spousal support if warranted, child custody and visitation rights if applicable. This is rare because the matter of dissolution of a marriage is one of the most social and personal emotionally up heaving experiences anyone will ever endure. If there are few assets and debts, no necessity of spousal support by either partner or no children involved, the process may be less upsetting, but it may still be an emotionally trying experience.
In the broad strokes, divorce law is similar in most states, but even the matter of initiating divorce proceedings may have roadblocks to overcome. In most states, there are minimal requirements that must be met. Most states now require a minimum residential period in the state. Once, one could cross state lines to another state to obtain a “quickie divorce,” but this is now mostly a bygone possibility. The period of required residence varies by state, but most require residence for at least a few weeks; the requirement may be months or years.
Also, many states require a period of legal separation, meaning that the marriage partners live and sleep in separate residences. The specific period of separation also varies by state. Commonly, it is a few months. The requirement of a period of legal separation is derived from the legal perspective that a couple may reconcile. This is an indication that society, both culturally and legally, still respects a married couple family as the stable basic unit of society, which is why tax incentives, for example, are granted to married couples.
There are three practical concerns in divorce law previously mentioned: asset and debt settlement, spousal support and minor child custody and visitation.
Assets and debts, particularly those acquired during the marriage, are usually easier matters to resolve. Where possible, an even division of their relative worth is usually the most equitable settlement, but this factor will almost completely depend on each partner’s financial condition following the divorce, particularly relative to debts.
Spousal support is a critical factor where one partner may have no immediate means of personal sustenance following the divorce. How this settlement may extend to child support in the event of minor children affected by divorce becomes a critical matter for the partners and their lawyers and the court to negotiate.
In the event there are minor children, their custody and visitation rights are also critical to assure that regardless of the feelings between the divorced partners, the safety, security and happiness of the children is a critical responsibility for the court to determine if the partners cannot achieve an equitable settlement on their own or with their attorneys.