Divorce (or dissolution of marriage) is the termination of a marriage or marital union, the canceling and/or reorganizing of the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage, thus dissolving the bonds of matrimony between a married couple under the rule of law of the particular country and/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 alimony (spousal support), child custody, child visitation / access, parenting time, child support, distribution of property, and division of debt.
In most countries, monogamy is required by law, so divorce allows each former partner to marry another person; where polygyny is legal but polyandry is not, divorce allows the woman to marry a new husband.
Reasons for divorce vary, from sexual incompatibility or lack of independence for one or both spouses to a personality clash.
The only countries that do not allow divorce are the Philippines and the Vatican City, an ecclesiastical state, which has no procedure for divorce.
Countries that have relatively recently legalized divorce are Italy (1970), Portugal (1975), Brazil (1977), Spain (1981), Argentina (1987), 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 for the other spouse.
In contrast, in some countries (such as Sweden, divorce is purely no fault.
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 (see Grounds for divorce (United States)).
Though divorce laws vary between jurisdictions, 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.