March 3, 2017

Marriage Terminated: Divorce vs. Dissolution

by Alyson B. Miller, Alyson B. Miller LLC

When a potential client sits down for an initial consultation, one of the most common questions is the difference between a divorce and a dissolution. Both a divorce and a dissolution result in the same outcome – the marriage is terminated.

The fundamental difference between the two is a divorce is contested and filed with the court; whereas a dissolution is filed jointly once the parties reach an agreement. In a divorce, the parties are required to appear at court multiple times for procedural and pretrial proceedings. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, a decision is determined by a judge. In a dissolution, the parties file a Separation Agreement outlining the terms of their settlement, and only need to appear at court once (or not at all if they hire a private judge) to briefly testify as to their desire to end the marriage in accordance with the terms of their agreement.

Clients also want to know whether a dissolution is less time consuming and costly than a divorce. Since divorces by their very nature are contested, they often involve conflict, increased time and expense. Typically, a dissolution takes less time (and therefore may be less expensive); however, that is not always the case. Both parties must willingly participate to move it to conclusion.

The decision to file for divorce or pursue a dissolution is case specific. It is both a personal and often strategic decision. As such, parties should carefully weigh their options after seeking the advice of counsel.

Alyson B. Miller