Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, is the termination of a marriage or marital union, the canceling or reorganizing of the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage, thus dissolving the bonds of matrimony between a married couple under the rule of law. Divorce requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process, which may involve issues of alimony (spousal support), child custody, child visitation / access, parenting time, child support, distribution of property, and division of debt.
Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place. In legal terminology, an annulment makes a void marriage or a voidable marriage null.
In the event of a divorce, only marital property will be considered for property division and only those assets will be considered as marital property that have been acquired during the course of the particular marriage. Such assets may include marital home, bank accounts, investments (including stocks, bonds and retirement savings) and even businesses established during the course of the marriage in question.
Child Custody and Visitation
Child custody, conservatorship and guardianship are legal terms that are sometimes used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and the parent's child, such as the right of the parent to make decisions for the child, and the parent's duty to care for the child.
Custody issues typically arise in proceedings involving dissolution of marriage, as well as in paternity, annulment, and other legal proceedings in which children are involved. In most jurisdictions the issue of which parent the child will reside with is determined in accordance with the best interests of the child standard.. In rare cases custody may be awarded to somebody other than a parent, but only after the fundamental right afforded to biological parent's has been overcome or where the third party has an established role that is in the manner of a parent. When a child's parents are not married it is necessary to establish paternity before issues of child custody or support may be determined by a court.
Family law proceedings that involve issues of residence and contact often generate the most acrimonious disputes. In extreme cases, one parent may accuse the other of trying to "turn" the child(ren) against him or her, allege some form of emotional, physical, or even sexual abuse by the other parent, the "residential" parent may disrupt the other parent's contact or communication with the child(ren), or a parent may remove the child from the jurisdiction in violation of court orders, so as to frustrate the other parent's contact with the children.
In the United States, child support is the ongoing obligation for a periodic payment made directly or indirectly by an "obligor" (or paying parent or payer) to an "obligee" (or receiving party or recipient) for the financial care and support of children of a relationship or a (possibly terminated) marriage. The laws governing this kind of obligation vary dramatically state-by-state and tribe-by-tribe among Native Americans. Each individual state and federally recognized tribe is responsible for developing its own guidelines for determining child support.
Typically the obligor is a non-custodial parent. Typically the obligee is a custodial parent, caregiver or guardian, or a government agency, and does not have to spend the money on the child. In the U.S., there is no gender requirement for child support; for example, a father may pay a mother or a mother may pay a father. In addition, where there is joint custody, in which the child has two custodial parents and no non-custodial parents, a custodial parent may be required to pay the other custodial parent.