There can be various grounds for seeking a divorce; adultery is stated as a reason for divorce in the laws of the majority of states that allow fault-based divorces. Adultery is defined as voluntary, consensual sexual intercourse or sexual activity by a married person with someone other than their legal spouse. While intercourse is usually required, something less may amount to adultery under the divorce laws in some states.
In the United States, all but one state require that a person must attain the age of 18 years in order to marry without parental permission. Nebraska sets that age at 19. Some states allow marriage below the minimum age, with court approval, in cases of pregnancy or the birth of an illegitimate child. Although a marriage of underage parties might be void, it can be validated by parental consent in some states.
Spousal support can be one of the most difficult issues to resolve in divorce. Spousal support, which is also referred to as alimony, involves an obligation by one spouse to make financial payments to the other spouse. Permanent spousal support involves the payment of support after a divorce is granted and until a further court ruling modifies or terminates the obligation. Permanent spousal support may be ordered in situations involving long-term marriages or in situations where one party cannot earn a living due to a disability or injury. Such spousal support can be paid in lump sum or on monthly basis.
In divorce, a critical issue impacting the treatment of insurance policies is whether the policy benefits are separate property or marital property. State divorce courts have reached varied answers on the question of whether a life insurance policy is separate or marital property. In some states, "whole life" insurance contracts have been held to be marital property and generally have been valued at their cash surrender value. "Term life" policies, on the other hand, which lack a surrender value, have not been considered divisible property. In states in which inheritances or gifts are classified as separate property, insurance proceeds usually are not treated as marital property for purposes of property distribution in divorce. Other courts have ruled that the proceeds of a life insurance policy purchased with community property should be treated as community property in a divorce.
Property division in divorce generally affects only marital property, but some states allow equitable distribution of separate property. Marital property is presumed to be property that is acquired by both or either of the spouses during their marriage. Divorce courts divide marital property according to the classification schemes in controlling statutes or caselaw.