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Divorce Law

An introduction to alimony law for divorcees

The role of divorce law is to regulate the process of dissolving a marriage and dividing the property between the two parties. Divorce cases are typically handled in a dedicated divorce court.

In the United States, divorce law is enforced at the state level, and state legal systems recognize two different types of divorce: absolute divorce and limited divorce. Some states also recognize a situation known as "conversion divorce." While the exact regulations and protocols for divorce proceedings vary from state to state, almost all states now have what is known as "no-fault divorce," meaning that neither party needs to provide evidence of spousal misconduct in order to obtain a divorce. At one time, proving misconduct was necessary; this is no longer the case, and couples can simply cite "irreconcilable differences" as grounds to terminate their marriage.

Divorce family law can get complicated when children are involved, as child custody and child support arrangements will need to be made. However, a working knowledge of absolute, limited and conversion divorce suffices for most people.

Types of Divorce

The three types of divorce recognized by U.S. courts include:

  • Absolute divorce. In this situation, a judge immediately and completely terminates all legal aspects of a marriage. Many courts require some evidence of spousal misconduct to grant an absolute divorce.
  • Limited divorce. A limited divorce is one in which the court suspends cohabitation benefits while the parties separate, though their legal married status remains intact. They are sought in states that require parties to separate for a prescribed period of time before a divorce can be finalized.
  • Conversion divorce. States that allow conversion divorces automatically turn a legal separation into an absolute divorce once the parties have remained separated for a specified period of time.

Divorce and Alimony Law

One of the main purposes of an attorney is to ensure that property is divided equitably and fairly between the divorcing parties. There is an important distinction between marital property and separate property. Marital property refers to joint assets that were acquired or became more valuable during the marriage, while separate property encompasses assets that one or the other party owned in full prior to the marriage.

Theoretically, alimony law protects the separate property of each party and divides the marital property commensurately between husband and wife. Oftentimes the expertise of an attorney is required to establish which is which, so you should retain the services of a lawyer to ensure your rights and property are protected if you're divorcing your partner.

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