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Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties. In most countries divorce requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process. The legal process for divorce may also involve issues of spousal support, child custody, child support, distribution of property and division of debt.

In most Western countries, a divorce does not declare a marriage null and void, as in an annulment, but it does cancel the married status of the parties. Where monogamy is law, this allows each former partner to marry another. Where polygyny is legal, divorce allows the woman to marry another. Divorce laws vary considerably around the world. Divorce is not permitted in some countries, such as in Malta and in the Philippines, though an annulment is permitted. From 1971 to 1996, four European countries legalised divorce: Spain, Italy, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland.[1]


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