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What Is Ex Parte Divorce?

Divorce proceedings often mirror the relationship the couple had while married. Calm and collaborative relationships tend to end the same way, while wild and fiery romances go down in flames. And in some cases, one of the parties isn't too keen on breaking up.

A contested divorce can take many forms, from a spouse ignoring or refusing to sign divorce papers to scorched earth litigation. That's why many courts allow what is known as "ex parte" divorce, or divorce based solely on one spouse's filing and in the jurisdiction where that spouse lives, though it is valid anywhere. Let's take a closer look.

Now that you and your spouse have said 'I do,' you might be saying to yourself, 'I'm finally done.' But not so fast, my newlywed friends -- there are still a few marriage i's to dot and t's to cross. Marriage isn't just an oral agreement between two spouses. It's also a legal institution, and as such, you have some legal requirements to follow through on.

From filing the marriage certificate to filing for a name change to filing your taxes, here are five legal actions you should take after you get married.

For most folks, once they've made the decision to get divorced, they want it over as quickly as possible. But just because you've signed the papers doesn't mean your divorce is finalized. Half of all states have a waiting period between the filing of divorce papers and when the marriage is legally dissolved, which can range from ninety days in Washington and six months in California to even longer in some states.

So what's with all the waiting? And why can states put a divorce on hold?

While same-sex couples have the right to marry, when they separate, same-sex parents are finding that many states’ laws have not caught up to the times when it comes to child custody or child visitation rights. Despite the fact that the country supports the rights of same-sex couples to be parents, the legal framework under which child custody and child visitation are decided fails to accommodate the family structure of same-sex parents. This situation is limited to same-sex couples that are separating where one partner either had a child before the marriage, or had a child during marriage, where only one partner is biologically related.

The root of the problem is centered around the concept of biological parentage. Unless a child is adopted by the non-biological same-sex parent, or the non-biological same-sex parent signs the birth certificate (if allowed by the hospital), a court may not recognize that parent as a parent at all, and therefore won’t award visitation, let alone custody. The problem with deciding visitation and custody when one of the same-sex parents is not legally considered a parent is that not all courts recognize de facto parents, and a court cannot award visitation or custody under the legal framework of many states to a person who has no rights under the law.

Before getting a divorce, most couples never really grasp the fact that marriage is a contractual arrangement that basically joins finances and legal responsibilities in a similar fashion to a business partnership. When a spouse starts exploring divorce, they're often left with questions about how it will affect their finances. For example, if you're about to get divorced, you may be wondering whether you will have to pay alimony or child support, whether you will have to move out, and whether the maxed-out credit card will be your responsibility.

Below are the top 7 questions people ask when considering how divorce is going to affect their finances, both in the short term and the long term.

When shopping for a divorce lawyer, most people will want to know how much it’s going to cost. Like any other legal matter, the answer will depend on numerous factors. Regardless of the answer, it’ll likely be more than you want to pay.

Lawyers typically charge hourly rates for family law matters, such as divorce cases. However, occasionally a lawyer may charge a flat fee for a simple or uncontested divorce that does not involve significant assets or children. It is important to note, however, that lawyers and law firms set their own hourly rate, and how each one involves different considerations. So just like your mother probably taught you, you better shop around.

Surrogacy seems simple enough: prospective parents who are unable to have children by natural conception and pregnancy ask a surrogate mother to carry an embryo to term for them. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. Surrogacy laws differ by state, and not all surrogacy contracts are enforceable. And then there are the myriad issues that can come up during and after any pregnancy.

Here are three of the biggest questions surrogate mothers and prospective parents face, and where to find some answers.

Prior to an adoption being finalized by the court, the birth mother, or birth father, will retain the legal rights to their child. After the adoption process is finalized by a court, both birth parents lose all legal rights to their child. This means that a biological mother will not have the right to make important life decisions on behalf of her child, nor will she have the right to petition for custody or even visitation.

When an adoption is finalized by the courts, the birth parents are terminating all parental rights. Terminating all parental rights allows the adoptive parents to step in to become the child’s legally recognized parents. In order to complete the adoption process, birth parents must relinquish their parental rights.

Divorce is one of the hardest legal events anyone will ever face. When you divorce, you face losses that are not just emotional, but financial and legal as well. This blog series will help answer some basic questions you might have about divorce.

Back in the day, child support generally fell on the father after a divorce, and only ended on the day the child turned 18. Nowadays, more mothers are working, same-sex couples are getting married, having kids, and divorcing, and there are more factors taken into account when deciding how long child support will continue. The general idea of child support -- that the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent some amount for the child's food, clothing, school, etc. -- is still the same, but determining who pays, how much, and for how long has gotten a bit more complicated.

Here are five of the biggest child support questions, and some answers from our archives:

In every state, courts have recognized that grandparents have an interest in the well being of their grandchildren. However, each state has different rules when it comes to awarding shared custody rights to grandparents. Courts generally will look to the grandparents to take custody, at the grandparent’s request, if the parents have terminated custody, or died. When it comes to sharing custody, in states that allow this, courts look to various factors to see if shared custody is in the best interest of the child.

There are different ways for grandparents to share custody. For instance, a grandparent can be awarded either legal or physical custody, or both. Grandparents and parents can also agree to nearly any sort of shared custody arrangement, sharing both physical and/or legal custody. Additionally, courts may also award grandparents with visitation rights.