What Are the Various Components of Divorce Law?

Whether divorces are uncontested and it becomes contested over time depends on the complexity and length of the marriage in question. The assets and wealth involved, the duration of the marriage, whether children are involved, and whether one party contests the divorce will likely dictate the duration of the legal proceedings involved in the divorce.

There are four major elements of a divorce case that apply to divorce cases, whether you need a Denver divorce attorney or a New York divorce attorney. They are as follows:

  • The equitable division of assets and debts of the married couple
  • Alimony payments
  • Child custody
  • Child support

Child Custody

Who gets custody of children is typically hotly contested in divorce cases. Even inactive parents will likely contest custody. They may want to take a more active role after a divorce. The threat of a divorce often shifts inactive parents and forces them to learn more about family lawyers at Peters & May and fight for custody in court.

The parent who has raised the children throughout the marriage may take it on themselves to fight for the children’s future, thinking that the absent parent’s attempt is only temporary and that it will only cause the child harm in the future. Once the custody agreement has been finalized the court might also decide whether that party needs to make child support payments as a result of their absenteeism.


Alimony refers to payments made to a former spouse based on the decision the court makes. Child support, voluntary payments, and noncash property settlements do not fall into the category of alimony payments. Alimonies are typically awarded to spouses who had to put their job on hold to raise children during the marriage. A judge might declare that the party who makes the most money within a marriage has to pay a certain amount of their salary because the other party had to raise the children.

Property Division

The division of property might vary depending on your state because each state has its own rules that must be observed following a divorce. Some states are equitable distribution states, which means the property gets divided equally between the two parties. Fair division could also mean that each spouse gets 50 percent of the assets. It could also favor one spouse over another depending on their financial circumstances. Property division can be based on the following:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • Duration of marriage
  • Each spouse’s earning potential
  • Alimony or child support
  • General health and age of each spouse
  • Standard of living during the marriage

Most couples don’t want to embroil themselves in a complex legal battle. Because most couples want to avoid the potential ugliness a legal battle can cause, around 95 percent of couples settle divorces outside of court.

What Are the Different Types of Divorce?

In reality, there are two types of divorce. One is known as “divorce from bed and board.” This type of divorce lets couples legally separate without legally ending their divorce. This type of divorce isn’t seen as often in today’s times and the more common form of divorce is referred to as “absolute divorce.” This type of divorce legally dissolves the divorce. Within this type of divorce, there are various methods that accomplish absolute divorce.

Summary Divorce

Expedited divorce procedures are available in many countries for couples who haven’t been married for a long period of time, don’t own that much property, don’t have children, or don’t have significant debts. In these divorces, they must agree to the divorce and file court papers jointly. Summary divorces are sometimes referred to as simplified divorces and they involve much less paperwork than other types of divorce. A few forms are all you really need.

Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested divorces are also relatively easy to deal with legally. In this case, you and your spouse settle your differences on custody and visitation, child support, alimony, and division of property amicably. You can then incorporate the terms of your settlement in a written property settlement agreement, which is sometimes known as a separation agreement.

Once your case gets settled, you can file for divorce with the court. Courts will typically fast-track these types of cases so they can finalize your divorce.

Default Divorce

Default divorces occur when you file for divorce and your spouse doesn’t respond. If you comply with the court’s requirements, a judge will grant the divorce despite whether or not your spouse hasn’t participated in the court proceedings.

Contested Divorce

If you and your spouse disagree on the terms of the divorce and you cannot come to an agreement, you will wind up in a contested divorce. In these cases, a judge will have to decide the terms of your divorce for you.

Contested divorces are often ugly and expensive, and you will have to go through a lengthy process of exchanging financial, personal, and other information. There will be mandatory settlement negotiations and court hearings for temporary relief, such as interim alimony. If you can’t resolve the case after the initial proceedings, the case will go to trial.

Fault and No-Fault Divorce

Fault and no-fault divorce refer to the reasons on which you base your divorce. State laws designate the premises on which dictate who is at fault in the marriage. This type of divorce typically occurs in cases of unfaithfulness or other wrongdoings.

However, all states offer a form of no-fault divorce. In no-fault divorces, you cite irreconcilable differences or irremediable problems as the reason for the dissolution of your marriage. It’s important to note that no-fault divorces can still be contested.

Mediated Divorce

Mediated divorce represents one of the options you can use before filing for divorce. These are known as “alternative dispute resolution methods. Divorce mediation is an example of this. In these cases, a trained mediator sits down with both parties and helps you resolve your differences until you solve your differences amicably.

Bottom Line

Divorce law features many complex components and having a divorce attorney consult you throughout the process can save you from expensive fees or agreeing to terms you don’t think are fair.

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