Home Before Marriage During Marriage When Divorcing After Divorce In New Relationships Books Organizations Web Research Tips Useful Terms How to Use this Site The Institute Lorna Wendt Contact Press Room Sponsors

The Equality in Marriage Institute has closed and this site is preserved for archival purposes only. The founder, staff and board members of the former organization are not responsible or liable for the accuracy of the articles on this site, links, suggested resources or information on linked sites. No questions or comments can be submitted via this site and reproduction of any of the material on this site is prohibited. Inquiries about media interviews or speaking opportunities for Lorna Jorgenson Wendt can be submitted by clicking here.

3 Ways to End Your Marriage
How to Divorce

Tip: Beware of quick divorces out of state or out of country. Sure, you may get a divorce in one day, but it may not be valid, which could complicate things later if you decide to remarry or you want to enforce some part of the divorce judgement like alimony or child support.

Under US law, wedlock may be altered in three ways: annulment, legal separation or divorce. Your attorney can advise you on which path suits your particular situation and locale.

How they differ:

Annulment - The court declares the marriage was invalid from the beginning. Annulments are rare and possible only when one of you lacked the legal capacity -- such as being under age -- or a fraud was committed. Duress - being forced into marriage - is also grounds for annulment. Only the innocent party can request an annulment.

Separation - A legal separation used to be the most common way for a husband and wife to separate, but it's rarely used today. Key points to consider:

  • Separation does not end the marriage.

  • In most states, a legal separation does not divide property.

  • Court usually awards for custody, alimony, child support and continued health care.

  • After a legal separation, neither spouse generally is legally responsible for the debts of the other.

  • Most couples who get legal separations usually go back to court for a divorce.

  • Legal separation is often preferred by people who disapprove of divorce for religious reasons or who are older couples wishing to separate but continue to have some benefits of marriage.

Divorce - The most common way to end a marriage, it requires filing a complaint at your local courthouse. Divorces may be either Fault or No Fault. In the first case, the grounds (reasons) for divorce are specific such as adultery. No Fault divorces, which have become common since the 1970s, list more general reasons like incompatibility.

BEWARE: If you file for divorce but then decide just to live separately or to reconcile, be sure to request a dismissal of your divorce action. If you don't, your spouse may be able to go back to the court for a final judgement without telling you.

Actions When Divorcing

What To Do First
3 Ways to End Your Marriage
Learn Your Divorce ABC's
Find and Maintain Your Lawyer
Managing Your Lawyer
How To Avoid A Court Trial
If You Choose Mediation
If You Choose Arbitration
If You Choose Collaborative Law
How To Prepare For Alternative Dispute Resolution
If You Choose To Go To Trial
"Knowledge Is Powerful" Check List
Who Gets What Where
Know What Your Marriage Is Worth
Pensions: 12 Worst Mistakes Lawyers Make
7 Key Questions To Ask About Retirement Benefits
Divorce and the Military
Hidden Assets and How To Find Them
Taxes And Divorce
Divorce and Dividing Debt
When To File For Bankruptcy
Protect Your Credit Rating
What About Your Children?
Emergency Court Orders
Appealing or Modifying Your Final Divorce Decree
Financial Transitions of Divorce
Divorce and Hard Assets
Divorce and Soft Assets

10 Ways To Feel Better Fast
How Friends And Family Can Help
Join A Group
Handle 'Divorce Anger'
Keep a Journal
Do You Need A Religious Divorce?

Ways To Move On