Divorce Varies by State

Aug 8, 2012 by

One of the things that many people don’t realize about divorce is that it’s not a federally defined issue. Like many things in life, the states have their own ability to define divorce statutes, and that means that there are fifty different interpretations of the same situation across the United States. Individual divorces have to be approached on a specific, state by state basis, but there are some things that you should know about state definitions on the whole.

One of the things that states differ on is the idea of separation. Some states will recognize that people are legally separated and in some cases, they will weigh in with a ruling. These legal separations can have some big time consequences in terms of tax law and they also have to meet certain considerations for custody and child care. Other states don’t have a legal definition for separation at all. In those states, couples are free to create informal separations on their own terms, but the only true legal definitions for a couple in the state are either divorced or married.

In some states, divorce proceedings can be even more complicated than usual because the court wants to determine who was at fault. Similar to how they might investigate a traffic accident, the court will try to get to the root of what’s causing the divorce to see if fault can be assigned to one spouse or the other. Examples of at-fault divorces would be when a person commits adultery or when a person’s addiction puts a child in danger. In no-fault divorce states, divorces don’t come with fault attached, and that can impact rulings in terms of alimony and child support. Obviously, no-fault divorces are much simpler to navigate, and in many cases can be handled using the services of an online divorce document service instead of an attorney.

Many of the state by state procedural differences are very minor and they aren’t things that potential divorcees need to be concerned with. Different states will have different ways of separating property and different laws governing child care. It’s a well known fact that many jurisdictions tend to favor the mother in custody battles, while other states may be neutral in this regard. These post-decision differences should be especially important to people with children who are considering a divorce. For the most part though, every court in the country would prefer it if married couples could work out their problems before it gets to the point of filing for divorce.


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