Divorce law is different from state to state and is in flux as cultural norms change. Each spouse has the same rights in a divorce; and alimony, asset distribution and child custody depends on factors specific to the marriage.
The court may award alimony to the spouse with the lower earning potential. Many factors -- such as age, property ownership and marital standard of living -- determine the specific amount. Often, the court awards alimony for a brief time rather than for life. A 2007 article in "The Wall Street Journal" noted that, in recent years, women are receiving higher alimony as cultural attitudes change.
States differ on what property is considered marital subject to be split between the spouses. For example, some states view assets acquired before the marriage as nonmarital while others do not.
In each state, courts award custody to the most fit parent. Before the 1970s, mothers did receive preference in custody decisions.