Reasons for Divorce
Most states now offer what is known as a "no fault" divorce, which allows a court to enter a divorce decree without one party having to legally prove the other party did something wrong in the marriage. Here, one spouse may simply allege that the marriage has broken down and there's no reasonable hope it can be preserved, and a divorce can be granted with or without the other spouse's consent.
Alternatives to Divorce
Many states offer legal separations, which can allow spouses to make some of the same decisions as a divorce regarding their shared property, child custody, and child support. This option doesn't legally end the marriage and is generally used when couples want to retain their marriage status for religious or health care reasons.
The division of marital property after a divorce will generally depend on whether you live in a community property state, which considers nearly all property obtained after the marriage as equally owned by both spouses and will generally split the property equally after the divorce. Absent community property statutes, it's typically up to the court to divide marital property between both parties. Courts will normally accept a property division agreement if the spouses can create their own.
Alimony and Spousal Support
Alimony and spousal support are interchangeable terms that refer to monthly payments from one ex-spouse to another following a divorce. These payments can be court-ordered or arranged by the parties involved and are intended to account for the adverse economic effect a divorce can have on one party. All spousal support agreements and amounts are unique, depending on the spouses' individual incomes and property, their earning capacity, the duration of the marriage, and whether children and child support are involved, among other factors.