Divorce in the United States

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Divorce is essentially the process for ending the legal relationship that results from matrimony. Laws pertaining to divorce vary to some extent depending on what state you live in. Aspects of divorce may include equitable distribution of property, child custody and/or visitation, child and/or spousal support and alimony. The overwhelming majority of divorces are initiated by the wife. 

There are a variety of reasons why people divorce ranging from adultery (sex outside of the marriage with someone other than the marital partner), domestic violence, addictions (drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc), growing in different directions, falling out of love, financial difficulties within the marriage or for any number of different reasons. 

In most states a divorce may be uncontested or contested. Uncontested divorces are by far the easiest to resolve from a legal perspective and estimates suggest 95% of divorces in the United States are uncontested. In an uncontested divorce the parties essentially agree to the divorce itself but generally are able to come to agreement on the ancillary issues related to divorce such as how to distribute property, money, child custody among other issues that arise as a result of divorce. It is not unusual for parties to an uncontested divorce to resolve the divorce without the assistance of any attorneys. In an uncontested divorce the court is almost guaranteed to approve the agreement reached. 

Contested divorces are more difficult to resolve and usually requires a judge holding at least one hearing to resolve issues that they are unable to agree on. Contested divorces essentially places the outcome of the divorce in the hands of a judge. If you find yourself in the unfortunate and stressful situation of a divorce, a contested one in particular, and live in the Houston area it may be wise to locate a contested divorce lawyer houston tx area. Usually, there are resources available through most state bar associations which can help you in finding the divorce lawyer that will help you through the process. 

Prior to the enactment of no-fault divorces in the United States a party desiring the divorce was required to prove the other party did something incompatible with marriage. In an At-Fault divorce action the grounds a party may claim to justify the divorce included desertion, abandonment, cruelty, and adultery. The United States is one of the minority of countries in the world that have passed laws permitting no fault divorces having become increasing prevalent since the 1970’s. Since the enactment of No-Fault divorce statutes, the majority of cite irreconcilable differences as the basis of the divorce. 

Marriage and divorce are among the most stressful events that may occur in one’s life. Divorce is actually in the top two of most stressful events in life. Only death of a loved one being considered more stressful than divorce. Regardless of whether a divorce is contested or uncontested there are emotional, practical and legal considerations that contribute toward stress. In order to cope through the divorce process it is important to surround yourself with a strong support system and to stay physically active. Talking about the divorce process honestly with children and maintaining civility toward your spouse may also help with the stress. 

Divorce can also have devastating financial repercussions. Incomes for each party will likely go down and may leave both with a lot of debt. As discussed earlier, it is not unusual that one of the parties to a divorce may be required to pay child support or spousal support/alimony. Such payments are generally calculated by the state in which the divorce is granted using guidelines that factor in the respective parents income, number of children and possibly the custody arrangement. Child support and spousal support may be reviewed or adjusted periodically but one should anticipate such payments until such a change occurs and factor them into the monthly budget.


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