What is Divorce?

Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the ending of a marriage,
which can be contrasted with an annulment which is a
declaration that a marriage is void, though the effects of
marriage may be recognized in such unions, such as spousal
support, child custody and distribution of property.

In developed countries, divorce rates have increased
markedly during the twentieth century. Among the states in
which divorce has become commonplace are the United
States, Japan, Korea and members of the European Union (in
Malta divorce is illegal, Ireland only allowed divorce since
1997 via a referendum, (the Fifteenth Amendment to the
constitution)). In U.S, Canada, the United Kingdom and other
some other developed Commonwealth countries, this boom in
divorce developed in the last half of the twentieth century. In
addition, acceptance of the single-parent family has resulted
in many women deciding to have children outside marriage as
there is little remaining social stigma attached to unwed
mothers. The subject of divorce as a social phenomenon is an
important research topic in sociology.

Some researchers argue that divorce rates do not always
reflect actual interactions among people; that is, some
countries may show a low divorce rate because, in such
countries, people rarely get married in the first place.

The term between divorce and remarriage varies depending
on the country and the sex of the divorcee. In some
countries, women need to wait longer than men before
remarrying to avoid confusion about paternity. Children born
after divorce may or may not be recognized as children of
their father depending on the period between divorce and
birth, although recognition of maternity is usually automatic. In
most common law jurisdictions there is a presumption that the
child born during the marriage is the husband's child,
however this presumption can be overcome by identifying the
putative father and bringing a paternity or affiliation
proceeding. If the child was conceived before the divorce but
born afterward this may involve litigation. If a man accepts the
child as his own he may be declared the father and may in
many jurisdictions incur obligations towards the child.

A man who has been divorced is a divorcé; a divorced woman
is a divorcée (from French).

A divorce is generally accomplished through a court of law, as
a legal action is needed to dissolve the prior legal act of
marriage. The terms of the divorce are also determined by the
court, though they may take into account prenuptial
agreements, or simply ratify terms that the spouses have
agreed on privately. Often, however, the spouses disagree
about the terms of the divorce, which can lead to stressful
(and expensive) litigation. A less adversarial approach to
divorce settlements has also emerged in recent years, known
as family mediation, an attempt to negotiate mutually
acceptable resolution to conflicts.
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