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Overview Divorce grounds vary significantly from country to country. Marriage may be seen as a contract, a status, or a combination of these.<ref>http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/jhalley/cv/1-behind_the_law_of_marriage.2.15.11.pdf</ref> 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,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Finland,<ref>http://www.suomi.fi/suomifi/english/services_by_topic/families_and_social_services/living_together/divorce/index.html</ref> Australia,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> New Zealand),<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> 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.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

Laws vary as to the waiting period before a divorce is effective. Also, residency requirements vary. However, issues of division of property are typically determined by the law of the jurisdiction in which the property is located.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

In Europe, divorce laws differ from country to country, reflecting differing legal and cultural traditions. In some countries, particularly (but not only) in some former communist countries, divorce can only be obtained on one single general ground of "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage" (or a similar formulation). Yet, what constitutes such a "breakdown" of the marriage is interpreted very differently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, ranging from very liberal interpretations (e.g. Netherlands)<ref>Note: The very fact that one of the spouses advances facts for the existence of the irretrievable breakdown itself constitutes ‘a very serious indication that an irretrievable breakdown does exist" {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }})</ref> to quite restrictive ones (e.g., in Poland, there must be an "irretrievable and complete disintegration of matrimonial life," but there are many restrictions to granting a divorce).<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Separation constitutes a ground of divorce in some European countries (in Germany, e.g., a divorce is granted on the basis of a 1-year separation if both spouses consent, or 3-year separation if only one spouse consents).<ref>"The marriage can be dissolved if it has broken down. The marriage has broken down if the parties to the marriage are no longer cohabiting and if it cannot be expected that the parties will resume matrimonial cohabitation (Section 1565 (1) BGB). There is an irrefutable presumption that the marriage has broken down if the parties have been living apart for one year and both apply for divorce or if the respondent consents to the divorce. After a separation period of three years, there is an irrefutable presumption that the marriage has broken down, without any comments being required from the parties to the proceedings (Section 1566 (2) BGB)" (ec.europa.eu)</ref> Note that "separation" does not necessarily mean separate residences - in some jurisdictions, living in the same household but leading a separate life (e.g., eating, sleeping, socializing, etc. separately) is sufficient to constitute de facto separation; this is explicitly stated, e.g., in the family laws of Latvia.<ref>"Section 73 of the Civil Code explains the circumstances under which spouses can be considered to be living separately, namely, if the spouses do not share a household and one of the spouses refuses outright to maintain a joint household whereby the possibility of marital cohabitation is denied. Separate occupation by spouses of a common dwelling does not necessarily signify a joint household." (ec.europa.eu)</ref>

Divorce laws are not static; they often change reflecting evolving social norms of societies. In the 21st century, many European countries have made changes to their divorce laws, in particular by reducing the length of the necessary periods of separation, e.g., Scotland in 2006 (1 or 2 years from the previous 2 or 5 years); France in 2005 (2 years from the previous 6 years),<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Switzerland in 2005 (2 years from the previous 4 years),<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Greece in 2008 (2 years from the previous 4 years).<ref>http://www2.ohchr.org/English/bodies/cedaw/docs/54/CEDAW-C-GRC-7.pdf</ref> Some countries have completely overhauled their divorce laws, such as Spain in 2005,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> and Portugal in 2008. A new divorce law also came into force in September 2007 in Belgium, creating a new system that is primarily no-fault.<ref>Note: Although there is no need to prove fault in order to obtain a divorce, some serious faults affect the alimony (ejustice.just.fgov.be).</ref> Bulgaria also modified its divorce regulations in 2009. In Italy, however, the divorce laws still remain traditionally based, with divorce's being a relatively complicated and lengthy process. Austria is another European country where the divorce law remains conservative.<ref>Note: in certain circumstances, such as where there is neither agreement of spouses nor 'fault', there is a need of a separation of between 3 and 6 years (ec.europa.eu, {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }})</ref>

The liberalization of divorce laws is not without opposition, particularly in the United States. Indeed, in the US, certain conservative and religious organizations are lobbying for laws which restrict divorce. In 2011, in the US, the Coalition for Divorce Reform was established, describing itself as an organization "dedicated to supporting efforts to reduce unnecessary divorce and promote healthy marriages."<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>


Divorce sections
Intro  Overview  Law  Polygamy and divorce  Causes of divorce  Effects of divorce  Statistics  Divorce of same-sex married couples (United States)  Religion and divorce  Gender and divorce  History   See also    References   Suggested reading  External links  

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