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Dissolution of a valid marriage, usually freeing the parties to remarry. In societies in which religious authority is strong and the religion holds that marriage is indissoluble (e.g., Roman Catholicism, Hinduism), divorce may be difficult and rare. In the U.S. at the beginning of the 21st century there was about one divorce for every two marriages. The rate of divorce in the U.S. is greater than it is in most other Western countries, though divorce rates climbed in those countries in the last decades of the 20th century. The most common grounds for divorce are absence from the marital home, drug or alcohol addiction, adultery, cruelty, conviction of a crime, desertion, insanity, and nonsupport. See also annulment.
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