Divorce laws are not static; they often change reflecting evolving social norms of societies.

In the 21st century, many European countries have made changes to their divorce laws, in particular by reducing the length of the necessary periods of separation, e.g., Scotland in 2006 (1 or 2 years from the previous 2 or 5 years); France in 2005 (2 years from the previous 6 years), Bulgaria also modified its divorce regulations in 2009.

Less adversarial approaches to divorce settlements have recently emerged, such as mediation and collaborative divorce settlement, which negotiate mutually acceptable resolution to conflicts.

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The liberalization of divorce laws is not without opposition, particularly in the United States.

Indeed, in the US, certain conservative and religious organizations are lobbying for laws which restrict divorce.

In most countries, monogamy is required by law, so divorce allows each former partner to marry another person; where polygyny is legal but polyandry is not, divorce allows the woman to marry another person.

Divorce should not be confused with annulment, which declares the marriage null and void; with legal separation or de jure separation (a legal process by which a married couple may formalize a de facto separation while remaining legally married) or with de facto separation (a process where the spouses informally stop cohabiting).

In some jurisdictions one spouse may be forced to pay the attorney's fees of another spouse.

Laws vary as to the waiting period before a divorce is effective. However, issues of division of property are typically determined by the law of the jurisdiction in which the property is located.

Before the late 1960s, nearly all countries that permitted divorce required proof by one party that the other party had committed an act incompatible to the marriage.

This was termed "grounds" for divorce (popularly called "fault") and was the only way to terminate a marriage.

Many jurisdictions offer both the option of a no fault divorce as well as an at fault divorce.

This is the case, for example, in many US states (see Grounds for divorce (United States)).

Also in Italy, new laws came into force in 20 with significant changes in Italian law in matter of divorce: apart from shortening of the period of obligatory separation, are allowed other forms of getting a divorce – as an alternative to court proceedings, i.e.