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Divorce is one of the three legal processes which can be pursued to dissolve, or terminate, a marriage, which include divorce, legal separation and annulment.

Divorce completely severs all of the bonds of marriage and restores each of the parties to the same legal status they had as a single person prior to the marriage.  In so doing, various orders must necessarily be entered specifying which of the parties is to receive ownership of any assets held by the parties (especially including those accumulated during the marriage) and which party is responsible for any debts.  The court must also enter orders specifying the terms of custody and physical placement for any minor child born to or adopted by the parties, and any requirements for either party to pay child or spousal support to the other.

Legal Separation involves the court entering a judgment which makes orders for division of property, custody, placement and/or support as identified above, but which does not completely sever all of the bonds of marriage, such that the parties' financial and living circumstances may be changed but their legal status as married may continue for some purposes (such as filing married tax returns, or eligibility for "family" health insurance coverage).  The procedures for legal separation are virtually identical to those used for divorce.  There are some very limited reasons why legal separation may make sense in some circumstances, but in practice it is quite rare.

Annulment is essentially a legal declaration that the parties' marriage was void from its inception.  In other words, in the eyes of the law, the marriage basically never happened.  The circumstances under which annulment is legally appropriate are also quite rare, such as where one of the parties was already married to another person at the time of the subject marriage or lacked the ability to provide legal consent for marriage.

For a brief discussion of the legal procedure used in divorce cases, and the issues commonly presented, please click here.

Family Law

Overview of Family Law Matters

Pre-nuptial / Marital Property Agreements


Divorce Process Options

Custody / Placement

Support Issues