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Less adversarial approaches to divorce settlements have recently emerged, such as mediation and collaborative divorce settlement, which negotiate mutually acceptable resolution to conflicts.This principle in the United States is called 'Alternative Dispute Resolution' and has gained popularity.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 Europe, divorce laws differ from country to country, reflecting differing legal and cultural traditions.In some countries, particularly (but not only) in some former communist countries, divorce can be obtained only on one single general ground of "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage" (or a similar formulation).Many jurisdictions offer both the option of a no fault divorce as well as an at fault divorce.

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.In most jurisdictions, a divorce must be certified (or ordered by a Judge) by a court of law to come into effect.The terms of the divorce are usually determined by the courts, though they may take into account prenuptial agreements or post-nuptial agreements, or simply ratify terms that the spouses may have agreed to privately (this is not true in the United States, where agreements related to the marriage typically have to be rendered in writing to be enforceable).In such a divorce the spouses are not able to agree on issues for instance child custody and division of marital assets.In such situations, the litigation process takes longer to conclude.

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