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Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the termination of a marital union, the canceling and/or reorganizing of the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage, thus dissolving the bonds of matrimony between a married couple under the rule of law of the particular country and/or state. Divorce should not be confused with annulment, which declares the marriage null and void; with legal separation or de jure separation (a legal process by which a married couple may formalize a de facto separation while remaining legally married) or with de facto separation (a process where the spouses informally stop cohabiting). Reasons for divorce vary, from sexual incompatibility or lack of independence for one or both spouses to a personality clash. 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 of divorce may also involve issues of alimony (spousal support), child custody, child visitation, access, parenting time, child support, distribution of property, and division of debt. In most countries monogamy is required by law, so divorce allows each former partner to marry another; where polygyny is legal but polyandry is not, divorce allows the woman to marry a new husband. Divorce can be a stressful experience, affecting finances, living arrangements, household jobs, schedules, parenting and the outcomes of children of the marriage as they face each stage of development from childhood to adulthood. Such children may be deeply affected.
Divorce In The United States
It is estimated that upwards of 95% of divorces in the U.S. are "uncontested", because the two parties are able to come to an agreement (either with or without lawyers/mediators/collaborative counsel) about the property, children, and support issues. When the parties can agree and present the court with a fair and equitable agreement, approval of the divorce is almost guaranteed. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, they may ask the court to decide how to split property and deal with the custody of their children. Though this may be necessary, the courts would prefer parties come to an agreement prior to entering court. Where the issues are not complex and the parties are cooperative, a settlement often can be directly negotiated between them. In the majority of cases, forms are acquired from their respective state websites and a filing fee is paid to the state. Most U.S. states charge between $175 and $350 for a simple divorce filing. Collaborative divorce and mediated divorce are considered uncontested divorces. Because of additional requirements that must be met, most military divorces are typically uncontested. In the United States, many state court systems are experiencing an increasing proportion of pro se (i.e., litigants represent themselves without a lawyer) in divorce cases. In San Diego, for example, the number of divorce filings involving at least one self-representing litigant rose from 46% in 1992 to 77% in 2000, and in Florida from 66% in 1999 to 73% in 2001. Urban courts in California report that approximately 80% of the new divorce filings are filed pro se.
On average, first marriages that end in divorce last about eight years. Of the first marriages for women from 1955 to 1959, about 79% marked their 15th anniversary, compared with only 57% for women who married for the first time from 1985 to 1989. The median time between divorce and a second marriage was about three and a half years. In 2009, the divorce rate declined. A 1995 study found a wide range of factors correlating with the divorce rate including frequency of sex, wealth, race, and religious commitment. In 2001, marriages between people of different faiths were three times more likely to be divorced than those of the same faith. In a 1993 study, members of two mainline Protestant religions had a 20% chance of being divorced in 5 years; a Catholic and an Evangelical, a 33% chance; a Jew and a Christian, a 40% chance.A study by the Barna Group, that conducts polls of interest to Christians, reports that a higher divorce rate was associated with infrequent church attendance. Success in marriage has been associated with higher education and higher age. 81% of college graduates, over 26 years of age, who wed in the 1980s, were still married 20 years later. 65% of college graduates under 26, who married in the 1980s, were still married 20 years later. 49% of high school graduates under 26 years old, who married in the 1980s, were still married 20 years later. 2.9% of adults age 35 to 39 without a college degree divorced in the year 2009, compared with 1.6% with a college education. A population study found that in 2004 and 2008, liberal-voting states have lower rates of divorce than conservative-voting states, possibly because people in liberal states tend to wait longer before getting married. An analysis of this study found it to be misleading due to sampling at an aggregate level. It revealed that when sampling the same data by individuals, Republican leaning voters are less likely to have a divorce or extramarital affair than Democrat leaning voters and independents. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that from 1975 to 1988 in the U.S., in families with children present, wives file for divorce in approximately two-thirds of cases. In 1975, 71.4% of the cases were filed by women, and in 1988, 65% were filed by women. It is estimated that upwards of 95% of divorces in the U.S. are "uncontested", because the two parties are able to come to an agreement without a hearing (either with or without lawyers/mediators/collaborative counsel) about the property, children, and support issues. A 2011 study found a 1% increase in the unemployment rate correlated with a 1% decrease in the divorce rate, presumably because more people were financially challenged to afford the legal proceedings.
Some states permit same-sex marriage. For same-sex couples in the United States, divorce law is in its infancy and is less than clear on how such unions may be legally dissolved in another state. For example, if a same-sex couple is married in a state that recognizes gay marriage but returns to reside in a state that does not, they might find themselves in a situation where their own state, in failing to recognize their union will also fail to enable them to divorce. In addition, splitting up the couple's financial resources may prove to be legally difficult and well as determining which spouse is entitled to the custody of their children. Rights of spouses to custody of children. Upon dissolution of a same-sex marriage, legal questions remain as to the rights of spouses to custody of the biological children of their spouses. Unresolved legal questions abound in this area. Child custody policies include several guidelines that determine with whom the child lives following divorce, how time is divided in joint custody situations, and visitation rights. The most frequently applied custody guideline is the best interests of the child standard, which takes into account the parents preferences, the childs preferences, the interactions between parents and children, childrens adjustment, and all family members mental and physical health. Same-sex divorce in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage Since same-sex marriages are not recognized in a multitude of states, couples who are married in states that do recognize same-sex marriages will find themselves in a position of being precluded from dissolving their marriages in the states in which they live. When this happens, legal questions will remain unanswered as to which state laws will be applicable to determine the rights of each divorcing partner. In addition, special problems will present themselves when same-sex couples cannot be divorced in states that do recognize same sex marriage because they are not residents of such states.