Divorce is a legal proceeding that many claim to understand. Despite many people citing knowledge of divorce, very few are aware of just how complicated a divorce can be.
One of the most common misconceptions about divorce is that it is a cookie-cutter proceeding that only takes one form. In reality, a divorce can take many forms and names, each different from the last by how they are litigated. The different types of divorce are not universally available to everyone seeking to separate and divorce their spouse. Rather, the circumstances surrounding the divorce and the disposition of each spouse determines which type you qualify for. Some divorce types are also simpler than others.
Knowing that different types of divorce exist will only take you so far. Understanding the different types and how they will affect you is paramount to navigating any legal requirements. The differing divorce types only apply to your situation if your particular situation allows for it.
If you attempt to seek out a specific type of divorce, you might be disappointed since it relies on how you and your spouse feel and your respective situations. However, some divorce types can be pursued specifically if you can convince your spouse to agree and if there are no additional obstacles.
The first type of divorce is a summary divorce.
While a summary divorce is extremely simple, you must meet specific criteria to qualify for one.
Summary divorces are only available to couples who:
If you meet the above criteria, you still must get your spouse to agree to the divorce and file your paperwork together. A summary divorce is meant to terminate a marriage where there is little that needs to be divided between you and your future ex. If your spouse refuses the divorce or if your relationship does not meet the necessary criteria, a summary divorce will be unavailable to you.
The next-best thing compared to a summary divorce is an uncontested divorce.
Specifically, you and your spouse would sit down and negotiate:
Once you have agreed to each of these in a way that is fair to both parties, you will draw up a property settlement agreement. Such agreements are written contracts that outline what was agreed upon and are signed by both parties. After everything is settled, you can officially file for divorce with the court and attend the obligatory hearing. Fortunately, uncontested divorces are usually fast-tracked, and you could resolve your divorce in a fraction of the normal time. Some states even forgo court appearances in favor of affidavits filed with the court clerk.
A default divorce is not a likely scenario for most people, but it can occur depending on your spouse.
If you comply with all the requirements and laws of your state regarding divorce, a judge can authorize the termination of your marriage. You can do this despite your spouse not participating in the proceedings. While this can be helpful, a default divorce is not a perfect solution.
While it is true your spouse is not there to oppose the terms laid out in your petition for divorce, it can be overturned if your spouse responds after the judgment is rendered. However, your spouse must have a valid reason for not responding to the previous summons.
The most common and possibly the most draining type of divorce is a contested divorce.
While an uncontested divorce is the preferred option for most couples, not everyone is willing to take their marriage ending lying down. If your spouse is opposed to one or more of the requests in your divorce petition and does not yield, your divorce could quickly become a judge's decision rather than you or your spouse. Contested divorces are also time-consuming and stressful, almost exclusively requiring attorneys to navigate.
A contested divorce is also complicated when your spouse is a danger to you since they will be more inclined to fight harder.
This category is less about the type of divorce and more focused on the driving force of the separation. The reason you are getting divorced impacts who has the moral high ground in the proceedings. This is not to say that any divorce is about who is right or wrong. Still, many marriages disintegrate because one party in the relationship did something to destroy the relationship. When this is the case, you are dealing with a fault divorce since the relationship's end can be traced to one party's actions. When petitioning for divorce, you or your spouse can accuse the other of being responsible for causing the divorce through misconduct.
The cause of a fault divorce is usually infidelity or abuse. When your spouse is guilty of cheating on you or harming you, they can be identified as the reason a divorce is necessary. Infidelity is a violation of the marriage contract, whereas abuse is outright illegal, meaning your decision to divorce your spouse directly results from these egregious offenses. However, fault divorces are not the only possible option:
A no-fault divorce is not about blaming one spouse for the marriage's failure and instead focuses on proving the marriage's end was imminent. This usually means there are irreconcilable differences between you and your spouse that turns the marriage into a strain on both of you. That said, a no-fault divorce does not guarantee an uncontested divorce, as you and your spouse might argue about how the assets you share should be divided.
While there are multiple divorce types, there is a subcategory known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that is the basis for the remaining three divorce types. The first of these ADR variants is mediated divorce.
The mediator does not make decisions on your behalf but serves as a referee. They help prevent the negotiations from regressing into petty arguments where nothing gets solved. The mediator can even be a trained psychology professional if you feel that is what is necessary to resolve your differences. More detailed information about mediation must be gathered before selecting a mediator.
Collaborative divorces are not foolproof, unfortunately. These negotiations can fail and force you to pursue a more contentious divorce. When a collaborative divorce fails to settle, you and your spouse are legally required to dismiss your current attorneys and seek new representation. This prevents any conflict of interest and ensures that the settlement goal remains untainted by prior information. While collaborative divorce is an interesting concept, one form of divorce is still left to discuss.
The final ADR variant is known as divorce arbitration.
They are essentially given authority over the divorce, and you must adhere to their decisions.
Arbitration has advantages, such as being an informal process that does not require you to make a courtroom appearance. It also brings the same advantages as other ADR divorce proceedings, such as scheduling flexibility and low costs. However, having the control rest in a 3rd party who makes these decisions without any additional representation can be daunting. It is also impossible to appeal the decision made in divorce arbitration. With this, we have assessed all the divorce variations you might face. Knowing the difference between divorce types will only take you so far. There is always more to learn.
Divorce law is a deeply complicated and stressful legal proceeding that can confuse those not trained in legal matters. The different types of divorce can be overwhelming enough for those facing their first separation. These eight divorce types are further complicated by all the steps that go into processing a divorce, how to prepare for filing for divorce, and more. Sometimes the amount of information surrounding divorce can be so overwhelming you do not know what to do with yourself. This means finding information about divorce and, more importantly, your specific situation is critical.
Once upon a time, getting ahold of that information meant having access to a legal library where educational texts and documents were stored. Most of the information found in such texts is so complicated that only law students and trained attorneys can understand the finer points of the data. Fortunately, getting ahold of information pertinent to the average citizen has become much simpler. Nowadays, a few taps on a keyboard can give you access to data important to you rather than your lawyer. Knowledge is the key to surviving a divorce and thriving after, and we urge you to gain as much as you can.