Under most state laws, a divorce (or "dissolution") action must be filed and decided in court. Many states have a "no-fault divorce" policy. In other words, these courts are not concerned about which spouse was wrong or guilty of marital misconduct.
There are a few legal requirements which must be met to file for a divorce in most states:
- Residency: The spouse filing for the divorce must have resided in the state for certain time (oftentimes at least 6 months prior to filing the action, and at least 3 months in the county where the action will be filed).
- Waiting Period: There is a waiting period that marks the date the divorce becomes final and the parties are free to remarry. This waiting period is anywhere from 0 to 12 months (on average 6 months) plus one day from the date the papers are filed in court.
- Legal Grounds: There are generally two legal grounds for getting a divorce. 1. Irreconcilable differences and 2. Incurable insanity. "Irreconcilable difference" simply means that the parties have marital difficulties which cannot be reconciled, and have led to the permanent breakdown of the marriage.
- Jurisdictional Requirement: An action for divorce must be filed in the proper court. The correct court will be located in the county where either the wife or husband has resided for at least 3 months prior to filing for divorce.
See this overview of the process for more on what to expect in a divorce.