Love is in the air. The taffeta is gleaming, the bubbly is flowing and the bouquets are flying. Everyone is on cloud nine--for now.
But back on Earth, the honeymoon ends. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 43% of couples joined for the first time in holy matrimony will within 15 years end up in holy acrimony.
Do we have to spell it out? D-I-V-O-R-C-E.
Before you toss your wedding band and snapshots into a vat of acid, check out Nolo.com (http://www.nolo.com/category/div_home.html), one of the layman's best guides to legal matters. Its legal encyclopedia covers topics from alimony to mediation to custody. Plus, the site has updates on related legal issues listed on the page.
Divorce Central, at http://www.divorcecentral.com, has links to resources by state and touches on topics such as prenuptial agreements (although a little late for some), children's rights and even divorce strategy. Plus, it includes chats with experts on Thursday evenings. And for those ready to get back in the saddle, there's a personals section and a dating handbook. Yes, it has changed out there.
Similarly, http://www.divorcesupport.com has useful information on such topics as child custody and support, separation, alimony and divorce laws.
A number of the sites, including http://www.divorceinfo.com, are prose heavy. But some of the information can be incredibly helpful. Although Divorceinfo.com does not yet have a California page, it does have work sheets to download.
Like the other sites, http://www.thedivorcesite.com offers a breakdown of state divorce laws. In addition, it offers a free e-mail-based divorce course in which you'll get a week's worth of answers to all your divorce questions. Divorce Site also has a downloadable do-it-yourself divorce kit, but you've got to pay $40 for that.
If your spouse's cheating heart gets caught, http://www.divorcesource.com suggests how to handle your affairs. You also can find resources such as finance calculators, divorce calendars and research links.
Divorce Online (http://www.divorceonline.com) includes a checklist of issues to keep in mind, in addition to useful articles on topics ranging from dating while divorcing (a no-no, the site says) to parenting.
At http://www.divorcelawinfo.com/framequest2.htm, you'll find a printable divorce questionnaire for planning and organizing. It's rather long. If you plan to come back to it, you might want to print it out so your answers aren't lost. And http://www.maritalstatus.com offers some hints on how to tell the children about an impending divorce.
If you're a single parent--or fantasizing daily about becoming one--http://www.makinglemonade.com/spwanna.htm offers a primer on divorce. The site is primarily dedicated to the needs and interests of moms and dads who are going it alone.
Especially for dads is http://www.divorcedfather.com, which includes resources for fathers and the women in their lives--girlfriends and second wives. For moms, there's http://momsonline.oxygen.com/agesandstages/teens/guidance/ list.asp?key=GCcust.
Michelle Maltais is a broadcast producer and copy editor at The Times.