Why is Divorce Different Everywhere?

Summary: Divorce is, essentially, the dissolution of marriage. But it’s different depending on where you live. Why is divorce different everywhere? Well, the primary reason is pretty simple: marriage is different everywhere. Every state has its own laws governing what happens in a marriage or in a divorce. That’s not entirely uncommon, but it can still be confusing.

We tend to think of marriage as universal, so why is divorce different everywhere? After all, a wedding usually consists of two parties, an exchange of vows, and a kiss. It seems pretty standard, this building of a union. Shouldn’t, then, the dissolution of that union be an equally simple affair? But we hear again and again that divorce is quite different depending on where you go.

Marriage is Complicated

It turns out that our opinion may have been starting from a faulty premise. It turns out that marriage is actually pretty darn complicated. Yes, the actual wedding ceremony is essentially the same no matter where you go. But the rights and benefits granted by your marriage can vary significantly depending on the state in which you exchange your vows.

Typically, most marriages will convey some of the following benefits:

  • Tax breaks for married couples (most couples will receive a tax incentive of some kind, often at both the state and federal levels)
  • Rights to certain benefits of spouses (for example, military benefits or veteran’s disability benefits)
  • Next of kin status for emergency situations
  • Joint parental rights
  • Joint filing of tax returns

Really, this list could keep going. The implications of state and local laws around marriages only complicates the matter further. In other words, marriage is far from simple: it’s incredibly complicated (and that’s even without getting into all that material about maintaining a relationship).

As a Result, Divorce is Complicated

Think about it like this: when you get married, you’re entwining your life with someone else’s. Two lives have become one. (Ideally, neither partner’s life should dominate this symbiosis—rather, it should be an equal transaction.) And it doesn’t have to be that dramatic. You can still be your own person and a full partner in a marriage.

The point I’m trying to make is this: untangling our life from your partner’s will, by necessity be complicated. You’re going to have to untangle:

  • Your financial lives (this means separating bank accounts)
  • Your property lives (only one of your can keep the house, as it were)
  • Your retirement (many married couples save for retirement jointly)
  • Your friends and family (these may naturally sort themselves out)
  • Parenting and guardianship rights
  • Your day to day routine

In many ways, a divorce can be as complicated as a life. Because that’s what you’re going through: you’re looking at your partnership and deciding whose life this goes to and whose life that goes to. When you throw in the often-hurt feelings that accompany a divorce, you can see how this could get messy.

That’s why divorce attorneys are usually a good idea. And that’s because a divorce attorney in New York or a divorce attorney in Colorado are going to help you comply with local as well as federal laws.

A divorce attorney can help advocate for you during that process of separating your life from someone else. It’s a messy process so having an expert on your side can help everyone out in the end.

Life is Complicated

Ultimately, marriage and divorce are both incredibly complex processes. And that’s simply because life is complicated. There’s no good way around that. Why is divorce different everywhere? Ultimately, that’s because marriage is different everywhere! Each and every state is just a little bit different.

You might not be able to keep track of it all, and that’s okay. Just focus on what’s relevant to you and that should help. And that’s true whether you’re getting married or going through the equally complex process of getting divorced.

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Dan Voltz / About Author

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