While the concept of divorce is the same in all 50 states, the laws differ. In fact, the outcome of a divorce can look entirely different if a couple files in one state compared to another. As a recent article from Fox Business pointed out, laws vary on everything from legal fees to child support to property division.
Under California law, the court can order a higher-earning spouse to help pay the legal fees of a lesser-earning spouse. This is done to "level the playing field" and prevent one spouse being punished for earning less than the other spouse. Although, it's not always easy to determine how the legal fees should be split, especially in complex cases.
Other states have interesting divorce laws as well. For example, courts in Illinois don't take into account the amount of parenting time each parent has with the child when determining child support. In this state, the non-primary residential parent is ordered to pay a fixed percentage of his or her income, regardless of how much time he or she spends with the child.
When it comes to property division, California and eight other states follow community property rules while the rest follow equitable distribution rules. Community property states consider almost all assets attained during the marriage to be community property that is split 50-50 upon divorce. Equitable distribution states divide the marital property based on what seems fair and equitable, but it is not always equal.
These are just a few of the ways in which divorce laws vary from state to state. Ask your divorce attorney if there are any interesting divorce laws in your state that you should know about.
Source: Fox Business, "How States Differ on Divorce Laws," Cindy Vanegas, May 7, 2012