Legal Definition and Related Resources of Divorce

Meaning of Divorce

The judicial dissolution of a marriage releasing the parties from the bonds of matrimony .

Divorce Alternative Definition

The dissolution or partial suspension, by law, of the marriage relation. The dissolution is termed “divorce from the bond of matrimony,” or, in the Latin form of the expression, a vinculo matrimonii; the suspension, divorce from bed and board, a mensa et thoro. The former divorce puts an end to the marriage; the latter leaves it in full force. Bish. Mar. & Div. § 292. The term “divorce” is sometimes also applied to a sentence of nullity, which establishes that a supposed or pretended marriage either never existed at all, or at least was voidable at the election of one or both of the parties. The more correct modern usage, however, confineis the signification of divorce to the dissolution of a valid marriage. What has been known as a divorce a mensa et thoro may more properly be termed a legal separation. So, also, a sentence or decree which renders a marriage void o6 initio, and bastardizes the issue, should be distinguished from one which is entirely prospective in its operation; and for that purpose the for-‘ mer may be termed a “sentence of nullity.”

Synonyms of Divorce


  • annul
  • annul a marriage
  • detach
  • disjoin
  • dissociate
  • dissolve of the bonds of matrimony
  • dissolve the marriage of
  • disunite
  • legally discard a spouse
  • nullify a marriage
  • part
  • put asunder
  • put out of matrimony
  • put out of wedlock
  • release from matrimonial status
  • release from matrimony
  • release from wedlock
  • sever
  • split up
  • sunder
  • uncouple
  • unmarry
  • unyoke Associated Concepts: separation


  • annulment of marriage
  • broken marriage
  • conclusion
  • decree of nullity
  • discidium
  • dissolution of marriage
  • dissolution of the marriage bond
  • disunion
  • divortium
  • finality
  • judgment dissolving a marriage
  • judicial separation of a husband and wife
  • legal dissolution of marriage
  • legal nullification of marriage
  • legal termination of marriage
  • repudiation of a marriage
  • repudium Associated Concepts: absolute divorce
  • alimony
  • annulment of marriage
  • comparative rectitude
  • custody of children
  • decree for divorce
  • divisible divorce
  • divorce action
  • divorce proceeding
  • divorce suit
  • foreign divorce
  • grounds for divorce
  • judgment of divorce
  • legal separation
  • limited divorce

Related Entries of Divorce in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Divorce in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Divorce in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Divorce in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Divorce in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Adultery, Annulment, Co-respondent, Collusion, Comparative Rectitude, Connivance, Cruelty, Dissolution, Ecclesiastical Law, Extreme Cruelty, Faculties, Grant, Impotence, Indignity, Judicial Separation, On Account, Permanent Alimony, Reconciliation, Recrimination, Separate And Apart, Suit Money.


You might be interested in these references tools:

Resource Description
Divorce in the Dictionary Divorce in our legal dictionaries
Browse the Legal Thesaurus Find synonyms and related words of Divorce
Legal Maxims Maxims are established principles that jurists use as interpretive tools, invoked more frequently in international law
Legal Answers (Q&A) A community-driven knowledge creation process, of enduring value to a broad audience
Related topics Divorce in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Divorce is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

Vocabularies (Semantic Web Information)


Resource Description
Topic Map A group of names, occurrences and associations
Topic Tree A topic display format, showing the hierarchy
Sitemap Index Sitemap Index, including Taxonomies
https://legaldictionary.lawin.org/divorce/ The URI of Divorce (more about URIs)

Divorce in Law Enforcement

Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of divorce.


This term is a noun.

Etimology of Divorce

(You may find divorce at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

late 14c., from Old French divorce (14c.), from Latin divortium “separation, dissolution of marriage,” from divertere “to separate, leave one’s husband, turn aside” (see divert). Not distinguished in English from legal separation until mid-19c.


Legal English Vocabulary: Divorce in Spanish

Online translation of the English legal term divorce into Spanish: divorcio (English to Spanish translation) . More about legal dictionary from english to spanish online.

Related to the Legal Thesaurus


See Also

  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Policeman
  • Law Enforcement Agency

Further Reading

English Legal System: Divorce

In the context of the English law, A Dictionary of Law provides the following legal concept of Divorce :

The legal termination of a marriage and the obligations created by marriage, other than by a decree of nullity or presumption of death. The present law on divorce dates from 1969. Before this, the law required proof of a *matrimonial offence (adultery, cruelty, or desertion of three years). The current law is contained in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, which provides that there is only one ground for divorce, namely that the marriage has irretrievably broken dow Proceedings are initiated by either spouse filing a petition for divorce, stating the facts that have led to the marital breakdown and accompanied by a *statement of arrangement for children, (Divorce proceedings may not be started within the first year of a marriage.) Irretrievable breakdown of a marriage may only be evidenced by one of the following five facts:

(1) that the respondent has committed *adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;

(2) that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent (See unreasonable behaviour);

(3) that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for at least two years (See desertion);

(4) that the parties have lived apart for at least two years and the respondent consents to a divorce; or

(5) that the parties have lived apart for at least five years. A respondent in a two-year separation case can apply for a postponement of the divorce until the court is satisfied that the petitioner has made fair and reasonable financial provision for the respondent. In a five-year separation case the court has the power to bar divorce if it believes that grave financial or other hardship would result from the dissolution and that it would be wrong to dissolve the marriage; however, this power is rarely exercised.

Divorce is a two-stage process. The first stage is the granting of a *decree nisi; six weeks later the petitioner may apply for a *decree absolute. The marriage is not terminated until the decree absolute has been granted. Uncontested divorce cases are heard under the *special procedure; the majority of cases are now dealt with in this way. Divorce courts have wide powers under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 to make orders in respect of children and to adjust financial and property rights.

See also child protection in divorce; financial provision order; maintenance agreement; property adjustment order.

Divorce, Sexual Behaviour and the Law

Further Reading

Concept of Divorce in the context of Real Property

A short definition of Divorce: The legal dissolution of a marriage, leaving the parties with the results of the marriage (includes alimony, child support, property settlements, etc.) rather than an annulment which puts the parties in the position they were before the marriage.

Concept of Divorce in the context of Real Property

A short definition of Divorce: The legal dissolution of a marriage, leaving the parties with the results of the marriage (includes alimony, child support, property settlements, etc.) rather than an annulment which puts the parties in the position they were before the marriage.

Concept of “Divorce, Divortium”

Traditional meaning of divorce, divortium in English (with some legal use of this latin concept in England and the United States in the XIX Century) [1]: (in Latin) The legal separation of husband and wife, by decree of court. Divorce a vinculo matrimonii (from the tie of marriage): absolute divorce, where the wife has no dower and the parties can marry again. If for a cause existing prior to marriage, the children are bastards. Divorce a mensa et thoro (from bed and board): a legal separation, but the parties may not marry again; see Robinson’s Elementary Law Rev. ed.; § 173. There are various kinds of these divorces under modern statutes, frequently called absolute and limited divorce respectively, or total and partial.


Notes and References

  1. Based on A Concise Law Dictionary of Words, Phrases and Maxims, “Divorce, Divortium”, Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1911, United States. It is also called the Stimson’s Law dictionary. This term and/or definition may be absolete.

See Also



See Also

  • Marriage
  • Common Law Marriage
  • Marriage License
  • Voidable Marriage
  • Family

Hierarchical Display of Divorce

Social Questions > Family > Family law
Social Questions > Family > Marital status > Divorced person

Meaning of Divorce

Overview and more information about Divorce

For a more comprehensive understanding of Divorce, see in the general part of the online platform.[rtbs name=”xxx-xxx”]


Translation of Divorce

Thesaurus of Divorce

Social Questions > Family > Family law > Divorce
Social Questions > Family > Marital status > Divorced person > Divorce

See also


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