Divorce Laws
Summary in Divorce

Divorce laws are state specific, and states honor each otherís marriages and divorces. Divorce law is that body of controlling state (and in a few areas, federal) statutes, case law or code that pertain to divorce, dissolution, and related matters such as property division, child custody, child support, and visitation.

A statute is a formal written act of a legislature that declares, commands or prohibits something. Statutes guide courts about the terms and conditions of property distribution, alimony, child custody and support, but judges often have a great deal of discretion in the interpretation and application of divorce statutes. In addition, courts may have pertinent local rules related to divorce, such as mandatory parenting classes.

State law determines whether a state divides and distributes the martial estate under the terms and conditions of equitable distribution and as community property. State law also determines whether property is either marital or separate or whether all property is subject to distribution. Nine states are said to be community property states, which means that the entire marital estate is subject to distribution; 41 are said to be equitable distribution, which means that the marital estate is distributed equitably.

Statutory laws are generally consolidated in codes. Statutory law joins case law and civil practice and procedure in the conduct of divorce.

All states now have some form of no-fault divorce, and in some jurisdictions fault divorce has been abolished entirely.

Most states have adopted, in part or in whole, uniform laws drafted by the
National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law (NCCUSL), which are aimed at imparting uniformity to marriage, family and divorce law.
These laws deal with commerce, child custody and jurisdiction, fraudulent transfers, parentage, prenuptial agreements, support, and transfers to minors.

A divorcing couple are well advised to remember that in addition to state divorce law, a divorce that goes to trial is also subject to the whims and peccadillos of a judge, who is only human.

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#53: If you are divorcing in an "Equitable Distribution" state, please keep in mind that equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is fair. This means that property and debt is not always divided 50-50.
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