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This brief description is intended to provide some general information and is certainly not intended to replace the tailored advice available from a divorce lawyer or a divorce law firm.

Divorce is a legal process designed to dissolve the bonds of matrimony between two people, returning them to the legal status of single people. (This differs from the sometimes ambiguous category of Legal Separation, a category reserved for people officially living apart but not divorced; legal separation is sometimes a state requirement before divorce and sometimes simply preferred by people who no longer wish to live together as married people). Dissolution of marriage is the main issue of divorce; however, married people also have children, buy property, incur debt, divide child-rearing duties and divide wage-earning duties; consequently, a divorce also involves settlement of many additional issues, such as spousal support, child custody, child visitation, child support, division of property and division of debt.

Divorce is governed by state law, not by the federal government, so divorce requirements vary from state to state. As of October 15, 2010, New York became the 50th state to include "no fault" divorce, allowing the party filing for divorce to obtain dissolution without proving that his/her partner did anything wrong to cause the breakdown of their marriage. However, "fault" divorces are still possible and some people prefer to file for divorce based on "fault" because courts may still consider the behavior of a party when determining legal custody of children, visitation, support, property division and debt division.

While most states require a court to certify the divorce, the majority of couples are able to hammer out a divorce settlement covering all marital issues. The parties use their specific state laws, such as California?s use of "Community Property," to structure their settlements. The parties or their divorce attorneys submit the settlement to the court, the court reviews and accepts the settlement, and the divorce is granted with the terms of the settlement. If a couple is unable to reach a legal settlement, the court will try any unresolved issues, which can be a stressful, time-consuming and expensive endeavor. If a person considering divorce believes that some or all of the marital issues cannot be settled between the parties, he/she will need a lawyer. A capable divorce attorney or family law attorney can be found through a lawyer search for your state of residence. Though some states provide do-it-yourself divorce kits, if you have any doubts about your rights and/or the possibility of privately settling all marital issues, find a lawyer who specializes in divorce in your state and obtain divorce advice tailored to your specific needs.

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