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In the United States, more than half of all marriages end in divorce. Divorce is never pleasant, even when both parties agree it is the best thing, even if they remain friendly with each other afterwards. In terms of mental health in the United States, divorce is a major cause of depression and stress.

One key fact bears repeating: the laws for marriage and divorce are different in all 50 American states. There is no common federal divorce law. Ending the marriage legally (so a person may remarry) may be relatively simple in some states, a matter of a few weeks, or may involve complicated legal proceedings in others.

Marital status, however, is the least of it. Four other critical areas come into play: financial support of the spouse (including possible debts of an ex-spouse, as for income taxes), property settlement and division, custody of children, and financial support for the children. Pre-nuptial agreements entered into before marriage may solve some of these issues, but American courts often consider the equities of a particular situation, especially when children are involved.

As an example of potential pitfalls, the states of Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are all community property states. The laws here, roughly speaking, divide property acquired during the marriage jointly in the case of divorce or death of a spouse. The other 41 states have less-predicable and often extremely complicated methods to divide marital assets.

In American culture, divorce is so common today that it rarely carries any social stigma. Dating again after divorce is not difficult, since so many potential partners are themselves divorced.

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