Courts have considered a marriage to be a nullity and able to be annulled when it was established that one of the parties was so incapacitated due to drug or alcohol intoxication during the marriage ceremony as to not know what he or she was doing at the time. The degree of incapacity required to invalidate marriage varies from state to state, but generally requires a level of intoxication that would prevent the spouse from assenting to the marriage.
Traditionally, the entire gamut of matrimonial law has been a creature of state law, not federal law. As such, federal courts generally may not intervene in the marital area unless a particular issue comes into conflict with federal law. Bankruptcy is one such area, and it can arise because of the effect that divorce has on spouses’ property ownership and financial situation. In divorces involving a complex asset structure or extensive and varied types of property, bankruptcy by both spouses certainly can affect marital property distribution, depending in part on what distribution scheme the forum state follows. Otherwise, it often is the bankruptcy of only one spouse initially that sets off the complicated bankruptcy-divorce scenario.
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.
For purposes of no-fault divorce, states use various terms to describe the basic concept of marital breakdown, including irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, insupportability, and irretrievable breakdown. The realization that existing divorce laws no longer comported with the modern marriage experience and marital life led most states to recognize marital disharmony as a basis for no-fault divorce. Statutes usually provide some definition for the concept, and courts often have discretion to apply the standard in individual divorce proceedings.
For purposes of divorce, “partition” is a legal process that divides property, usually real property, into fractional shares for the spouses. Divorce or legal separation establishes grounds for partition in a divorce for jointly-owned marital assets of the spouses.