You have already reached a point where you are ready to terminate your marriage, but which avenue do you choose: dissolution or divorce? Both avenues will result in the same outcome, the termination of your marriage, but which route is best for you and your situation?
Taking the Dissolution Route
A dissolution is the route to take if you and your spouse can remain amicable in reaching an agreement and you both desire to terminate the marriage on the same terms. Although not always the case, for the majority of cases, both parties will save money in court costs, attorney fees, and other litigation expenses.
However, in order to take the dissolution route, both you and your spouse must be in agreement as to all aspects of the divorce, including the division of all assets and liabilities, support, and all matters involving any minor child(ren) of the marriage. To name a few, this would include custody/parental rights, parenting schedule, child support, health/medical insurance, and tax dependency exemptions.
Once an agreement is reached between you and your spouse, the agreement will need to be prepared and filed with the Court. The Court will then schedule a dissolution hearing thirty to ninety days after filing, where both you and your spouse must attend the dissolution hearing. Testimony will be taken from you and your spouse that you both voluntarily entered into an agreement in which you both believe to be fair and equitable, that you both made full disclosure as to all of your assets and liabilities, that you are both satisfied with the agreement and wish for the Court to adopt the agreement and terminate your marriage.
Although a dissolution is generally cheaper and quicker, this may not always the case. Both parties could potentially spend weeks, months or even longer negotiating the terms of the dissolution, and still never reach an agreement. A dissolution will only be granted if you both reach an agreement and you both wish for your marriage to dissolve.
Taking the Divorce Route
Maybe you are tired of negotiating, maybe you and your spouse are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to terminating your marriage, or maybe you feel that your spouse is dragging his or her feet making a dissolution impossible. For these reasons, and for many other reasons, a divorce is the route to take when an agreement cannot be reached and it becomes necessary for you to file for divorce.
A divorce is an adversarial process, in which one spouse files a Complaint for Divorce with the Court. Multiple hearings are likely to occur prior to a final divorce hearing. Often times, when a divorce case is pending, one or both spouses will request temporary restraining orders and/or temporary orders, which are orders that last through the pendency of your divorce. The purpose of these orders are to maintain the status quo of the parties with respect to the parties' finances and to the parental rights and responsibilities of any minor child(ren) of the marriage.
Although a divorce generally is more expensive and lasts longer, this is not always the case. At each of the hearings prior to your final divorce hearing, you and your spouse, along with your attorneys, will be given ample opportunity to discuss the merits of the case and to discuss whether there are possibilities and ways to settle your differences. Many cases end up settling before the final divorce hearing. In the end, if you and your spouse cannot reach a full or partial agreement, the Judge will make the final determination as to any remaining issues, which can include the division of your assets and liabilities and allocation of parental rights and responsibilities of the minor child(ren) of the marriage.
Both Terminate Your Marriage
Whichever route you choose, dissolution or divorce, both will result in a termination of your marriage. Each person and every situation is different. You should make arrangements to consult with an attorney regarding the specific facts of your situation in order to decide which route is best for you.