How to Dissolve a Marriage

Written by S. Danilina and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Marriages may be legally ended by divorce or dissolution of marriage. Divorce simply means the process of termination of a legal marriage and all legal obligations arising from it. Divorce and dissolution of marriage often used as interchangeable terms. However, both terms have the legal difference between them. Historically, divorce term has been used for the termination of marriage used on “wrong-doing” by one or both parties. In the 1970s, states have moved from “at-fault divorce” to “no-fault divorce”, which often called “dissolution of marriage“. Every state, excluding New York, has some version of dissolution of marriage.

The dissolution of marriage requires a quicker and less expensive legal process than filing “at-fault” divorce.

First, when the parties decided to dissolve a marriage they need to reach an agreement on all issues such as parental rights, child visitation, child support, and spousal support, payment of debts and attorney fees, and division of property.  If both parties are unable to reach an agreement or cannot think rationally due to emotional stress during a divorce, it is highly recommended to consult with an attorney. Most of the attorneys provide a free consultation, so it will be easy to determine if a person needs to retain an attorney during the process of dissolution of marriage.

The length of a marriage is everything when dissolution of marriage is considered. For instance, if a couple has not been married for long (less than five years), have no children and no real property together, they can take an advantage of a quicker and less expensive summary dissolution option. On the other hand, if they have been married for more than 5 years, they will have to file for a conventional dissolution. Moreover, some states have residency requirements for filing a dissolution of marriage. The law usually requires a person to live in a state before filing for divorce for at least 3 months.

Once the place to obtain the resolution is chosen and all paperwork filed – it is just the matter of waiting for your divorce to be finalized.  At this stage, a person can speed the process up by serving his/her spouse with the Petition for Dissolution. A spouse who has been served will need to respond in approximately 30 days after the Petition for Dissolution has been served. Next, a spouse who served the Petition for Dissolution can file a request for the Court to enter a default judgment. Often, the court will order the judgment to be entered on the earliest date allowed by the state's law.

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