Filing for divorce may be common, but it is also a complicated legal procedure requiring the advice and representation of a family law attorney experienced with the particular rules and statutes at play in your part of the country.
Legally referred to as dissolution of marriage in many states, a divorce is the termination of a marriage by a legal proceeding or in a court. Divorces are generally categorized as contested or uncontested. In a contested divorce, the parties cannot agree on at least one issue, while in an uncontested divorce, the parties agree to all terms.
A legal separation, which many states still offer, only terminates the right of cohabitation, but not the legal status of the marriage itself.
After retaining an experienced divorce attorney, the spouse seeking divorce prepares a petition for divorce and files it with the court in the state in which he or she lives. Each state has its own residency requirement for how long a spouse must live within the state before being eligible to file for divorce. See our article on filing divorce papers for links to each state's forms.
Each state has its own statutory grounds for divorce. Grounds are typically classified as fault or no-fault. Some states offer both as available grounds, while other states have done away with fault divorces altogether; New York is the only state that still does not offer a no-fault divorce option.
As the laws governing divorce vary not only from state to state but from county to county, it is important to find a divorce attorney with specific experience in your particular jurisdiction.