Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of divorce


  1. The final, legal ending of a marriage, by court order.

Definition of divorce


    From Old French divorce, from Latin dīvortium, from dīvertere ("to turn aside"), from dī- ("apart") + vertere ("to turn"); see verse.


  • IPA: /dɪˈvoʊrs/, /dɪˈvɔrs/
  • Rhymes: -ɔː(r)s


divorce (plural divorces)

  1. The legal dissolution of a marriage.

    Richard obtained a divorce from his wife some years ago, but hasn't returned to the dating scene.

  2. A separation of connected things.

    The Civil War split between Virginia and West Virginia was a divorce based along cultural and economic, as well as geographic, lines.


  • (legal dissolution of a marriage): divorcement
  • (separation of connected things): partition, separation, severance



to divorce (third-person singular simple present divorces, present participle divorcing, simple past and past participle divorced)

  1. (transitive) To legally dissolve a marriage between two people.

    A ship captain can marry couples, but cannot divorce them.

  2. (transitive) To end one's own marriage in this way.

    Lucy divorced Steve when she discovered that he had been unfaithful.

  3. (transitive) To separate something that was connected.

    The radical group voted to divorce itself from the main faction and start an independent movement.

  4. (intransitive) To obtain a legal divorce.

    Edna and Simon divorced last year; he got the house, and she retained the business.


  • (to legally dissolve a marriage): split up
  • (to separate something that was connected): disassociate, disjoint, dissociate, disunite, separate


Further reading

Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the final termination of a marriage, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between married persons. In most countries, divorce requires the sanction of a judge or other authority in a legal process.

In western countries, a divorce does not declare a marriage null and void, as in an annulment, but divorce cancels the marital status of the parties. Where monogamy is law, this allows each 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.

The legal process for divorce may also involve issues of spousal support, child custody, child support, distribution of property and division of debt, though these matters are usually only ancillary or consequential to the dissolution of the marriage.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     lex fori
2.     landed property
3.     lex situs
4.     respondent
5.     default judgment
6.     tort law
7.     living will
8.     lex causae
9.     law
10.     salacious