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Divorce (also known as dissolution of marriage) is the optional process of terminating a
marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouse A religious marriage. A spouse is a significant other in a marriage in Stockholm Marr ...

marriage
or marital union. Divorce usually entails the canceling or reorganizing of the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage, thus dissolving the
bonds of matrimony
bonds of matrimony
between a married couple under the rule of law of the particular country or state. Divorce laws vary considerably around the world, but in most countries, divorce requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process, which may involve issues of
distribution of property Division of property, also known as equitable distribution, is a judicial division of property rights and obligations between spouses during divorce. It may be done by agreement, through a property settlement, or by judicial decree. Distribution ...
,
child custody Child custody is a legal Law is a system of rules created and law enforcement, enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of long ...
,
alimony Alimony (also called aliment Aliment, in Scots law and in other civil systems, is the sum of money paid, or allowance given in respect of the reciprocal Obligation (law), obligation of parents and children, husband and wife, grandparents and g ...

alimony
(spousal support), child visitation / access,
parenting timeParenting time is the amount of time each parent spends with their children when parents separate. Disagreements about how to measure it and how to divide it often cause controversy between the parents. United Kingdom For child maintenance purpo ...
,
child support Child support (or child maintenance) is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child (or parent, caregiver, guardian, or state) following the end of a marriage or other similar relationship. Child maintenance ...
, and division of debt. In most countries,
monogamy Monogamy ( ) is a form of Dyad (sociology), dyadic Intimate relationship, relationship in which an individual has only one Significant other, partner during their lifetime—alternately, only one partner at any one time (Monogamy#Serial monogamy ...
is required by law, so divorce allows each former partner to marry another person. Divorce is different from
annulment Annulment is a legal procedure Procedural law, adjective law, in some jurisdictions referred to as remedial law, or rules of court comprises the rules by which a court hears and determines what happens in civil procedure, civil, lawsuit, criminal ...
, which declares the marriage null and void, with
legal separation Legal separation (sometimes judicial separation, separate maintenance, divorce ', or divorce from bed-and-board) is a legal process by which a married couple may formalize a separation while remaining legally married. A legal separation is grant ...
or ''de jure'' separation (a legal process by which a married couple may formalize a ''de facto'' separation while remaining legally married) or with ''de facto separation'' (a process where the spouses informally stop cohabiting). Reasons for divorce vary, from sexual incompatibility or lack of independence for one or both spouses to a
personality clashA personality clash occurs when two (or more) people find themselves in conflict not over a particular issue or incident, but due to a fundamental incompatibility in their personalities, their approaches to things, or their style of life. A persona ...
. The only countries that do not allow divorce are the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
and the
Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vatica ...

Vatican City
. In the Philippines, divorce for non-Muslim Filipinos is not legal unless the husband or wife is an alien and satisfies certain conditions. The Vatican City is an ecclesiastical state, which has no procedure for divorce. Countries that have relatively recently legalized divorce are
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding it, whose territory largely coincides with the . Italy is located in the centre of th ...

Italy
(1970),
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, ...

Portugal
(1975, although from 1910 to 1940 it was possible both for the civil and religious marriage),
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both and . At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 million people, Brazil is the ...

Brazil
(1977),
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
(1981),
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of . Sharing the bulk of the with to the west, the country is also bordered by and to the north, to the ...

Argentina
(1987),
Paraguay Paraguay (; ), officially the Republic of Paraguay ( es, República del Paraguay, links=no; gn, Tetã Paraguái, links=no), is a country in South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in t ...

Paraguay
(1991),''Sex and the State: Abortion, Divorce, and the Family Under Latin. American Dictatorships and Democracies'', by
Mala Htun Mala Htun is an American political scientist, currently a professor of political science at the University of New Mexico. Htun studies comparative politics, particularly women's rights and the politics of race and ethnicity with a focus on Latin A ...
, pp 102
Colombia Colombia ( , ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by conve ...

Colombia
(1991; from 1976 was allowed only for non-Catholics),
Andorra Andorra (, ; ), officially the Principality of Andorra ( ca, Principat d'Andorra), is a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', w ...

Andorra
(1995),
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_(right),_are_large_islands_of_north-west_Europe image:Small_Island_in ...

Ireland
(1996),
Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America South America is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention ra ...

Chile
(2004) and
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern subregion of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of ...

Malta
(2011).


Overview

Grounds for divorce vary widely from country to country. Marriage may be seen as a
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview; ...

contract
, a
status Status (Latin plural: ''statūs''), is a state, condition, or situation, and may refer to: * Status (law) Legal status is the position held by something or someone with regard to law. It is a set of privileges, obligations, powers or restricti ...
, or a combination of these. Where it is seen as a contract, the refusal or inability of one spouse to perform the obligations stipulated in the contract may constitute a
ground for divorce Grounds for divorce are regulations specifying the circumstances under which a person will be granted a divorce. Adultery is the most common grounds for divorce. However, there are countries that view male adultery differently than female adultery ...
for the other spouse. In contrast, in some countries (such as Sweden, Finland, Australia, New Zealand), divorce is purely no fault. This means it does not matter what the reasons are that a party or parties want to separate. They can separate of their own free will without having to prove someone is at fault for the divorce. Many jurisdictions offer both the option of a ''no fault'' divorce as well as an ''at fault'' divorce. This is the case, for example, in many
US states In the United States, a state is a Federated state, constituent Polity, political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic t ...
(see
Grounds for divorce (United States) Grounds for divorce Grounds for divorce are regulations specifying the circumstances under which a person will be granted a divorce Divorce also known as dissolution of marriage, is the process of terminating a marriage in Stockh ...
) or the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Austria to the south, Germany to the west, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to ...
. Though divorce laws vary between
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
s, there are two basic approaches to divorce: fault based and no-fault based. However, even in some jurisdictions that do not require a party to claim fault of their partner, a court may still take into account the behavior of the parties when dividing property, debts, evaluating custody, shared care arrangements and support. In some jurisdictions, one spouse may be forced to pay the attorney's fees of another spouse. Laws vary as to the waiting period before a divorce is effective. Also, residency requirements vary. However, issues of division of property are typically determined by the law of the jurisdiction in which the property is located. In Europe, divorce laws differ from country to country, reflecting differing legal and cultural traditions. In some countries, particularly (but not only) in some former communist countries, divorce can be obtained only on one single general ground of "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage" (or a similar formulation). Yet, what constitutes such a "breakdown" of the marriage is interpreted very differently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, ranging from very liberal interpretations (e.g.
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
) to quite restrictive ones (e.g., in
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in . It is divided into 16 , covering an area of , and has a largely climate. Poland has a population of nearly 38.5 million people, and is the fifth-most populous . ...

Poland
, there must be an "irretrievable and complete disintegration of matrimonial life," but there are many restrictions to granting a divorce). Separation constitutes a ground of divorce in some European countries (in
Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas to the north, and the to the south; it covers an area of ...

Germany
, e.g., a divorce is granted on the basis of a 1-year separation if both spouses consent, or 3-year separation if only one spouse consents). Note that "separation" does not necessarily mean separate residences – in some jurisdictions, living in the same household but leading a separate life (e.g., eating, sleeping, socializing, etc. separately) is sufficient to constitute ''de facto'' separation; this is explicitly stated, e.g., in the family laws of Latvia or the Czech Republic. Divorce laws are not static; they often change reflecting evolving social norms of societies. In the 21st century, many European countries have made changes to their divorce laws, in particular by reducing the length of the necessary periods of separation, e.g.,
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Tele ...
in 2006 (1 or 2 years from the previous 2 or 5 years);
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...

France
in 2005 (2 years from the previous 6 years),
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...

Switzerland
in 2005 (2 years from the previous 4 years),
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed ...

Greece
in 2008 (two years from the previous four years). Some countries have completely overhauled their divorce laws, such as
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
in 2005, and . A new divorce law also came into force in September 2007 in
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

Belgium
, creating a new system that is primarily no-fault.
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia ...

Bulgaria
also modified its divorce regulations in 2009. Also in
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italy
, new laws came into force in 2014 and 2015 with significant changes in Italian law in matter of divorce: apart from shortening of the period of obligatory separation (6 months for uncontested divorces and 1 year for contested ones from the previous 3 years), are allowed other forms of getting a divorce – as an alternative to court proceedings, i.e. the negotiations with the participation of an advocate or agreement made before the registrar of Public Registry Office.
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastli ...

Austria
by contrast is a European country where the divorce law still remains conservative. The liberalization of divorce laws is not without opposition, particularly in the United States. Indeed, in the US, certain conservative and religious organizations are lobbying for laws which restrict divorce. In 2011, in the US, the Coalition for Divorce Reform was established, describing itself as an organization "dedicated to supporting efforts to reduce unnecessary divorce and promote healthy marriages." The
magisterium The magisterium of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptise ...
of the Roman Catholic Church founds the concept of marriage on , elaborated by St.
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Dominican may refer to: * Someone or something from or related to the Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic ( ; es, ...

Thomas Aquinas
, supplemented by the revealed
Divine law Divine law is any body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, i ...
. The doctrine of the
Doctor Angelicus Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar, Philosophy, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. An immensely influential ...
has been partially shared by the
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
in the course of history.


Law


Types

In some jurisdictions, the courts will seldom apply principles of fault, but might willingly hold a party liable for a breach of a fiduciary duty to his or her spouse (for example, see Family Code Sections 720 and 1100 of the California Family Code). Grounds for divorce differs from state to state in the U.S. Some states have
no-fault divorceNo-fault may refer to: * No-fault divorce * No-fault insurance *No-fault liability also known as strict liability {{disambig