Dissolution of marriage is a process that legally terminates a marriage or civil union. It is very similar to divorce in many respects. However, the process for dissolution is generally no-fault, meaning that neither party needs to show evidence of wrongdoing in order to file for the dissolution. In contrast, divorce sometimes requires a showing of fault.
How Else Is Dissolution Different From Divorce?
Dissolution procedures are typically granted to couples who have been married for only a short period of time, who have no children, and who have accumulated little to no marital property as a married couple. As such, the dissolution is generally quicker and less complicated than a divorce filing.
Also, divorce can sometimes take the nature of a lawsuit, with one party suing the other for damages, and with various legal issues involved such as child custody or spousal support. On the other hand, dissolution is a mutual agreement between the parties to end the legal relationship, and therefore is more of a procedural matter to end the marriage.
What Does the Filing Process Involve?
Perhaps the most important aspect of the process is for the parties to create and sign a separation agreement. This is usually required before the couple can file for dissolution of marriage. Basically, the separation agreement indicates the parties’ consent to live apart from one another. It also determines various issues such as:
- Division of property
- Responsibilities for martial debt
- Whether one spouse will pay support to the other
- Parental responsibilities and child support (if applicable)
The separation agreement needs to be entered into voluntarily by both parties, and each party should make a full financial disclosure in connection with the agreement.
Once the agreement is finalized, the parties can usually file for dissolution of marriage. In some states, at least one party must have been a resident in the state of filing for some time (usually six months). Also, some jurisdictions require that the parties have been living apart for some time before they can file for the dissolution.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with the Dissolution Process?
Filing for dissolution of marriage generally requires the assistance of a lawyer. You may wish to contact an experienced family law attorney in your area if you need help with the dissolution process. Your attorney can assist you in preparing the various documents and agreements needed for the filing. Also, your lawyer can be on hand during negotiations and court proceedings to ensure that you are receiving the proper legal guidance.