Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act

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Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act was introduced as an effort to bring all divorce rules and regulations under one common jurisdiction. The act was established by the National Conference of Uniform Laws. The sole purpose behind this act was to unite the states in case of family laws and issues related to divorce. The act was accepted partly in some states, but it had its lasting influence on other states also. The important aspect of this act was, it legalized the no-fault divorce. So, irreconcilable differences was accepted as a valid ground for divorce.

The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act (UMDA) specify standards regarding child custody, child support, alimony (spousal support), divorce property division, divorce and marriage. This extensive uniform law has been adopted by the following states.

  • Washington
  • Montana
  • Missouri
  • Minnesota
  • Kentucky
  • Illinois
  • Colorado
  • Arizona

The highlights of the UMDA had great impact on the overall procedure of the divorce. They are as follow -

  • Determination of child custody and child support on certain factors
  • Offer alimony only in specific conditions
  • Make arrangements for distribution of property in community property states divorce.
  • Make arrangements for equitable distribution of property in non community property states
  • Elimination of traditional defenses to divorce
  • Elimination of fault divorces

Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act regarding Child Custody

The Act provides various factors that are to be considered while taking the decision regarding child custody. These factors are as follow

  • The physical and mental health of all individuals involved with the child
  • The relation of the child with the parents, the siblings and any other individuals affecting the child
  • The preferences of the child and the parents

UMDA about Child Support

Child support is an amount paid to the parent who is awarded the child custody. The child support is the contribution of other parent in the upbringing and development of the child. While deciding the amount of child support, the below mentioned topics are taken into account.

  • The requirements and resources of the non custodial parent
  • The educational, emotional and physical requirements of the child
  • The standard of life the child has been accustomed to prior to divorce
  • The resources of the custodial parent and the child

UMDA about Alimony

Alimony is regarded as a financial assistance to the spouse who has been suffered economically due to the divorce. The educational level of the spouses and their future plans are considered while deciding the duration and amount for the spousal maintenance.

A spouse is offered alimony only in the following circumstances.

  • This spouse is in dearth of property to fulfill the reasonable requirements and is not able to support self by means of employment, or
  • This spouse is a custodial parent who is not capable of finding employment outside the residence

Distribution of Community Property through UMDA

The issues included in the contemplation of distribution of community property are as below -

  • Duration of marital life
  • Value of the property that is allocated to each partner
  • Non-monetary contributions of the marriage
  • Other financial conditions like the requirement to grant the family residence to the custodial parent

Equitable Distribution of Property in Non Community States

In order to ensure an equitable division of property, the below mentioned factors are considered.

  • Is the distribution of property in addition to or a substitute for alimony?
  • A past record of economic misconduct
  • Who has been awarded child custody?
  • The requirements of the partners, inclusive of any future chances of attaining assets
  • Data of each spouse regarding the following -
    • Debts
    • Property
    • Employability
    • Vocational skills
    • Income
    • Occupation
    • Station
    • Health
    • Age
  • Agreement prior to marriage
  • Any prior marriages
  • Duration of marital life

Abolition of Traditional Divorce Defenses

The following traditional defenses have been abolished.

  • Connivance
  • Collusion
  • Reconciliation
  • Condonation
  • Recrimination

Eradication of Fault Divorce

As per the UMDA, fault divorces are no longer permitted. The singular ground of divorce is irretrievable breakdown that takes one of the following 2 forms.

  • Grave marital discord that adversely impacts the attitude of one or both partners towards the marriage, or
  • Residing separate and apart for 180 days

This is how the Uniform Marriage and Divorce act played an important part in changing the definition of divorce. It simplified the procedure for divorce for the people who want to get separated by mutual consent. Though it had a lesser acceptance, its influence lasted on the structure and designing of the family laws in other states also.

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