In recent years, children have increasingly been called upon to be witnesses in their parents' divorce proceedings. In some contested fault-based divorces, children have supplied testimony as to cruelty or adultery by one of the spouses. In other instances, children have been a part of custody matters, including offering testimony as to being poorly supervised by one of their parents and as to any neglectful conditions in the family home.
Concealment and misrepresentation are used very commonly in annulment proceedings as part of the fraud ground. Most of the time, annulments for fraud are not granted as a matter of right and are granted only after close consideration. In most states, the courts require clear and convincing evidence of fraud and a showing that the injured party would not have married but for the fraud.
Traditionally, the entire gamut of matrimonial law has been a creature of state law, not federal law. As such, federal courts generally may not intervene in the marital area unless a particular issue comes into conflict with federal law. Bankruptcy is one such area, and it can arise because of the effect that divorce has on spouses' property ownership and financial situation. In divorces involving a complex asset structure or extensive and varied types of property, bankruptcy by both spouses certainly can affect marital property distribution, depending in part on what distribution scheme the forum state follows. Otherwise, it often is the bankruptcy of only one spouse initially that sets off the complicated bankruptcy-divorce scenario.
Annulment is very different from divorce, even though some grounds for annulment are similar to divorce. Some grounds available in divorce are not available in annulment. In most states, if a spouse is convicted for a serious crime and imprisoned consecutively for three years, imprisonment can be a ground for a divorce. While imprisonment is generally not a ground for annulment of marriage, in some states, if the defendant conceals his or her criminal record such as conviction and imprisonment from another spouse, this is considered fraud and can be grounds for annulment. Further, in some states, inmates imprisoned for life may not marry.
Property division between the spouses is an important issue in a divorce proceeding. Ascertaining the correct and proper value of the assets and properties of the spouses is key to ensuring a fair and equitable division of the parties' assets. The advice of an expert, who is skilled either by training, special knowledge, education or experience in the specific field beyond the knowledge of an ordinary layman, will be of great help for clearly defining and ascertaining the value of property for future divisions and tax procedures, etc. A common example would be an accountant with specific knowledge of the formulas utilized to calculate the present value of various retirement interests.