Dissolution of Marriage
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Dissolution of Marriage
(divorce), the termination of a marriage while the spouses are living. In the USSR either spouse is free to dissolve the marriage, but only under state supervision. The procedure for dissolving a marriage is regulated by the 1968 Basic Principles of Marriage and Family Legislation of the USSR and the Union Republics and by the republic codes on marriage and the family. The dissolution is carried out either in court or at a registry office for documents of civil status (ZAGS) on the application of one or both spouses. A husband does not have the right to initiate divorce proceedings without the wife’s consent while the wife is pregnant or for one year after the birth of a child.
If the couple has minor children, the marriage is dissolved in court. The court makes efforts to reconcile the spouses and has the right to postpone the case, giving the parties up to six months to achieve a reconciliation. If the court determines that it has become impossible for the couple to continue living together and that the family cannot be preserved, the marriage is dissolved. When delivering its judgment the court, if necessary, takes steps to protect the interests of minor children or disabled spouses.
If there is a dispute between the spouses (for example, concerning the division of property or payment of alimony), the marriage can only be dissolved by a court. The court also determines the fee to be paid by one or both spouses for the certificate of dissolution of marriage; the amount ranges from 50 to 200 rubles.
If a couple without minor children mutually agrees to a divorce, the marriage is dissolved at a registry office. The divorce is recorded and an appropriate certificate issued three months after the application for dissolution of marriage was made; a state fee of 50 rubles is charged for the registration.
In addition, marriages are dissolved at registry offices on the application of one spouse if the other has been legally acknowledged as missing or incompetent because of mental illness or feeblemindedness or if the spouse has been sentenced to at least three years of deprivation of freedom for committing a crime. If an imprisoned spouse or the guardian of a legally incompetent spouse initiates a dispute concerning the children, the division of joint property, or the payment of alimony to the incompetent spouse, the dissolution of marriage is conducted through a court. The marriage is considered dissolved from the moment that the divorce is recorded in the register of documents of civil status.
After the dissolution of a marriage, a disabled spouse has the right to receive support from the other spouse if he or she became disabled before the divorce or within a year after it. If the spouses have been married for a long time, the court may demand alimony for the divorced spouse if he or she will reach pension age not later than five years after the divorce. After the dissolution of a marriage, a divorced wife has the right to receive alimony from her former husband if she is pregnant and for one year after the birth of the child (if she became pregnant before the divorce).
In other socialist countries, the dissolution of marriage is based on similar principles.
Bourgeois law views the dissolution of marriage as a civil law sanction for the culpable behavior (marital infidelity, cruelty, threats) of the defendant spouse. In the divorce suit, therefore, establishing the degree of guilt of each of the spouses is of paramount importance. The guilty party suffers property consequences, for example, he or she may be required to pay alimony to the innocent party in the divorce. Another common practice is the granting of monetary compensation for the moral damage suffered by the innocent spouse in connection with the divorce proceedings.
In the bourgeois countries, the procedure for dissolving a marriage is characterized by an inequality of the parties—the husband and wife—and by the existence of formal, predetermined grounds for divorce. In Great Britain the law on marriage and family relations enacted on Oct. 22, 1969, provides that a marriage may be dissolved if the defendant has committed adultery or deserted the plaintiff at least two years before the application was made to the court or if the parties have been living separately for two years and the defendant does not oppose the divorce. In the USA the dissolution of marriage is regulated by state laws that show an astonishing lack of uniformity: in the state of New York there are six major grounds for divorce, whereas in Kentucky the law lists 14 grounds. State laws also stipulate different residence requirements before divorce proceedings may be initiated. In Florida, for example, the period of residence is at least two years, whereas in Nevada it is at least six weeks. In such countries as Spain and Italy, where the influence of the Catholic Church is strong, a marriage could not be dissolved under any circumstances prior to the 1970’s; only a legal separation was possible. In Italy divorce became possible only after the enactment of a law that went into effect on Jan. 1, 1971.
IU. A. KOROLEV