What is Divorce?

Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage is the ending of a marriage, which can be contrasted with an annulment which is a declaration that a marriage is void, though the effects of marriage may be recognized in such unions, such as spousal support, child custody and distribution of property.

In developed countries, divorce rates have increased markedly during the twentieth century. Among the states in which divorce has become commonplace are the United States, Japan, Korea and members of the European Union (in Malta divorce is illegal, Ireland only allowed divorce since 1997 via a referendum, (the Fifteenth Amendment to the constitution)).

In U.S, Canada, the United Kingdom and other some other developed Commonwealth countries, this boom in divorce developed in the last half of the twentieth century. In addition, acceptance of the single-parent family has resulted in many women deciding to have children outside marriage as there is little remaining social stigma attached to unwed mothers. The subject of divorce as a social phenomenon is an important research topic in sociology.

The term between divorce and remarriage varies depending on the country and the sex of the divorcee. In some countries, women need to wait longer than men before remarrying to avoid confusion about paternity. Children born after divorce may or may not be recognized as children of their father depending on the period between divorce and birth, although recognition of maternity is usually automatic.

In most common law jurisdictions there is a presumption that the child born during the marriage is the husband’s child, however this presumption can be overcome by identifying the putative father and bringing a paternity or affiliation proceeding. If the child was conceived before the divorce but born afterward this may involve litigation. If a man accepts the child as his own he may be declared the father and may in many jurisdictions incur obligations towards the child.

A man who has been divorced is a divorce; a divorced woman is a divorcée (from French).

A divorce is generally accomplished through a Court of Law, as a legal action is needed to dissolve the prior legal act of marriage. The terms of the divorce are also determined by the court, though they may take into account Prenuptial Agreements, or simply ratify terms that the spouses have agreed on privately. Often, however, the spouses disagree about the terms of the divorce, which can lead to stressful (and expensive) litigation. A less adversarial approach to divorce settlements has also emerged in recent years, known as Family Mediation, an attempt to negotiate mutually acceptable resolution to conflicts.