Summary in Divorce
Marriage is an institution that has evolved over thousands of generations.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines marriage as that "[l]egal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife." That means that marriage is a legal status, and with it society confers rights and privileges on both parties. A marriage creates a third party, and the state, through its courts, has a say in the circumstances, terms and conditions of how a marriage ends. Marriage is a good example of the way civilization solves a number of problems in one institution. Marriage channels sexual energies, which could be very destructive if vented indiscriminately; it provides a vehicle for the rearing of the next generation; it establishes protocols for the orderly transfer of property and wealth from one generation to the next; and in modern times, makes for the creation of households enlarging the economy. Societies encourage marriage because it stabilizes the commonwealth. The bond of marriage, as it is called, makes for the creation of a connubial union between husband and wife, with all the privileges and duties of spouses. With marriage comes the privilege of not only sexual exclusivity by also the protection of confidentiality. The bond of marriage is but one facet of the institution. A divorce ends the bond between two parents, but it does not end the bond between each parent and a child. A person cannot end a marriage by walking away from it. Marriages end by the death of one spouse or divorce of the spouses. In a divorce, the bond of marriage is terminated when a dissolution of marriage has been granted by the court. Upon the termination of the bond of marriage, each party is once again recognized as a separate individual. At one time, society made divorce very difficult because marriages were seen as ordained by God. Today society tends to view marriage as an economic partnership. A common law marriage, which can present particular problems for divorcing couples (particular when one spouse denies that a marriage happened), is not solemnized by a cleric or appropriate official, but created by the spouses and their own declaration and actions. Alarmed by high divorce rates, three states (Louisiana, Arizona and Arkansas) now offer covenant marriage, an attempt to make divorce more difficult by "tapping into a couple’s commitment level as they first approach the altar." Spouses agree to forgo no-fault divorce in the event of a marital failure.
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#461: Property settlement agreements are not generally modifiable once incorporated into a final decree of divorce. Issues like custody and child support are, but issues involving property and debt distribution are typically not. Do not rely on the ability to appeal a divorce order.
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