Family Law FAQ

What Are The Grounds For Divorce? Can It Be One-sided?

Some states are “no-fault” states, meaning that no wrongdoings need to be cited as the reason of the divorce. All that needs to be shown to the courts is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” That being said, fault can be considered when allocating property. Further, divorce does not have to be a mutual process in some states, and even if one party objects to the divorce, it can still be processed through the courts. In other states, there will need to be explicit wrongdoings from one side or the other, or will need to be a mutual process.


How Much Will My Divorce Cost?

The cost of a divorce can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the case, and whether or not it is contested. An uncontested divorce will generally cost less than a contested divorce due to the lawyers needing to be utilized less, but they can still be quite costly. Beyond the attorney fees, you will also have to cover the cost of court filing fees, a divorce mediator if your state law requires you do so, and a divorce financial analyst if there are assets to be valued.


Do I Have To Pay Alimony In A Divorce?

Alimony, now commonly known as spousal support, is not mandatory in most states, but can be ordered by a judge under certain circumstances. Typically, if it’s assumed that the spouse will face hardships without financial support, spousal support will be considered. The determining factor of whether or not spousal support is the need to maintain the spouse at his/her customary standard of living. That being said, spousal support should not be considered if the marriage only lasted a short amount of time (less than three years), and both spouses are employed and self-sufficient. The amount of spousal support varies greatly, and should be agreed upon by both parties.


Who Will Receive The Custody Of The Children In A Divorce?

The custodial terms can vary drastically depending on the case. Custody is divided into two sections: physical custody (where the children will live) and legal custody (who will be the children’s guardian for important decisions regarding health, taxes, and education). These custodies can be either joint (with both spouses taking on some responsibilities), or sole (where one parent takes on the responsibility).


What Happens If We Realized We Made A Mistake And Want To Cancel The Divorce?

You and your spouse are allowed to dismiss the divorce even after the papers have been filed. You must request a dismissal form from the county clerk anytime before the judgment has been entered.


What Is An Annulment And How Is It Different Than A Divorce?

An annulment is a court procedure that essentially dissolves the marriage. Annulments are different than divorces because unlike a divorce, annulments are treated as though the marriage never happened (that is, it retroactively voids the marriage, making it appear in the court’s eye that the marriage never existed). Many people decide to go this route, because they may see a negative connotation with divorce, or due to religious reasons.


How Do The Courts Determine Whether Or Not A Marriage Can Be Annulled?

There are seven factors that are considered by the courts to determine if a marriage can be annulled. They include:

Consent: a party within the marriage lacked the legal ability to consent/agree to the marriage. This can be either due to a mental condition, or due to the influence of alcohol and drugs. Typically, if a court is to consider this route, an annulment action must be filed within six months of learning one of the parties lacked consent.

Consummation: a party within the marriage lacked the physical ability to consummate the marriage (have sexual intercourse), and the other party in the marriage did not know. For this to be considered, an annulment action must be filed within one year after the party learns of the other party’s inability to consummate the marriage.

Age: a party within the marriage was underage and did not have the consent of their legal guardian or the courts. The underage party or their guardian must file within two years after the marriage was entered into to have this route considered.

Fraud: a party within the marriage entered into the marriage based on fraudulent representation (i.e. a lie) of the other party. This fraudulent act must be central to the marriage (be a main reason for marriage). An annulment action must be filed within six months of being aware of the fraud for it to be considered.

Duress: one or both parties within the marriage entered into the marriage under duress (i.e. under threat). An action must be filed within six months of becoming aware of the duress.

Jest or Dare: if a party within the marriage entered the marriage as a jest (joke), or a dare, that is grounds for annulment. An action must be filed within six months of becoming aware of the jest/dare.

Illegality: if the marriage is against the law in any context; for example, one party is still married to someone else, the parties are blood relatives, or the marriage was illegal when it was entered into, then the marriage can be annulled. The annulment action can be brought forth by either party and can be filed at any time before the death of either party.

Find more resources and articles in our client resource section.

Revised: May 16, 2022, 7:44 a.m.
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