In recent years, children have increasingly been called upon to be witnesses in their parents’ divorce proceedings. In some contested fault-based divorces, children have supplied testimony as to cruelty or adultery by one of the spouses. In other instances, children have been a part of custody matters, including offering testimony as to being poorly supervised by one of their parents and as to any neglectful conditions in the family home.
In a pure community property system, property acquired during marriage other than by gift or inheritance from a third party is presumed to be community property and will be divided equally between the parties in divorce. Property that a spouse brings into the marriage or acquires during marriage by gift or inheritance from a third party is presumed to be separate property. Community property states generally consider a gift from one spouse to the other to be the recipient’s separate property.
There are two basic approaches to divorce: fault-based divorce and “no fault” divorce. Most states permit a “no fault” divorce on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Some states still require a fault-based divorce, some allow no-fault divorces, and a few states permit both. The fault grounds or reasons for divorce vary from state to state. Cruelty is a specific fault ground for divorce in most of the states that allow fault based divorces. Prior to the introduction of no-fault divorce grounds, cruelty was the most frequently used reason in seeking a divorce.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements refer to agreements made between the spouses before and after marriage, respectively. Among other things, these contracts enable the spouses to define their respective property rights, which can be very helpful in cases of divorce or legal separation.
In common law equitable distribution states, the general presumption is that workers’ compensation is treated as marital property if acquired during the marriage. In pure community property jurisdictions, it is treated as community property if acquired during marriage and as separate property if it is acquired before marriage or after marriage dissolution.