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When Divorce Is Near

Posted on in Divorce
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Many couples get a divorce when they discover their marriage was not right for them. Divorce is a legal declaration that the marriage is over. Except for certain obligations - like alimony and child support - the parties are free to remarry.

Most states once granted divorces only if a spouse committed a marital wrong like adultery or mental or physical cruelty. Today, all states permit no fault divorces. In a no fault divorce, a spouse need only show the marriage has failed - he or she does not have to prove a marital wrong occurred. No fault laws make it hard to prevent divorce if either spouse wants one.

To get a divorce, one must file a complaint (or petition) in the proper court. Most states have "residency requirements" -laws that prohibit divorces unless one of the spouses has lived in the state for a minimum amount of time (usually six months or a year) before filing the divorce action.

Couples seeking divorce who do not meet their state's residency requirements should not go to another state or country where these requirements are less strict. Such a divorce may be invalid in that person's home state.

Between the time the divorce action is filed and the divorce becomes final, several matters may require court orders. There are temporary orders regarding spousal support and, if children are involved, child custody and child support. A "restraining order" may be needed to stop one spouse from abusing the other.

The second part of a divorce (the first part is ending the marriage by court decree) consists of dividing marital property, providing for the payment of spousal support, and settling child support and custody issues.

If the parties cannot agree how to divide property, a judge decides. In some states, the judge considers the couple's assets, the length of their marriage and each spouse's contribution to it, and then divides the property in a fair manner. In other states, the couple's "community property" (the property either spouse obtained through his or her labor or skill during marriage) is divided evenly.

Emotions and complex issues are involved in any divorce. Thus, each spouse should seek legal help. A lawyer can provide advice about property settlement, support, custody and other issues, and explain tax and other consequences regarding these matters.

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