Understanding Different Divorce Filing Options

When a marriage ends, it can be an emotional, mental and physical strain on anyone, even if the divorce is agreed upon. What can make this process even more difficult is all the overwhelming amount of options when it comes to the different types of filing. What do these entire options mean and what is the best for your current situation? 

  • Fault or No-Fault Divorce:

All states now should offer a no-fault divorce filing option, prior in many places a spouse had to be at fault. In some cases some will still choose to have a fault divorce rather than no-fault for various reasons. In a fault divorce the spouse claiming the other at fault has to prove whether it be infidelity, or another issues. In a no-fault divorce, it doesn’t matter why the divorce is happening, only how to make the divorce work.

  • Contested or Uncontested:

There difference here is between the two spouses, and whether or no they are in agreement with the divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both sides are willing to come to an agreement to dissolve the marriage.  This means they are open to negotiations to move the divorce forward. In a contested divorce, both or one of the spouses are unwilling to come to an agreement. This complicates the divorce proceedings, and often a type of mediation or judge ruling will have to take place to see the divorce into completion.

  • Default:

This happens when one spouse files for divorce and after a determined amount of time if the other spouse doesn’t respond. Then, a default divorce can happen. Once a divorce has been filled and both spouses have been notified, the divorce has to see completion.

In addition to these divorce filing options, there are these options as well…

  • Annulment:

Basically, this is like your marriage never took place or it was never legal to begin with. Annulments are not common, but they do fit the criteria is some situations. Some situations like incest or bigamy.

  • Legal Separation:

This usually has all the same elements of a divorce but without the actual divorce. A judge will make ruling for a couple in the same aspects they would during a divorce, but the couple will still remain legally married.

With each divorce, there are different amounts of circumstances. No two divorces are the same. Some of the different elements that you may need to consider when determining which filing status best accommodates your situation are: custody of children and possible child support, any shared pets, length of the marriage and possible alimony, possessions, assets, and if the divorce is going to be contested or not. After you weigh all these different aspects with the various filing options, pick the one that you think works best. It could be easier and less stressful to seek the help of an attorney to keep things running smoothly, and in a timely manner.  Remember that you will also have different rules and limitations according to which state you file within, as well.

Kelly Peterson
About the Author

Experienced Divorce Lawyer Kelly Peterson handles child custody, visitation, paternity, grandparent rights and mediation cases.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children