Every year in the United States more than 740,000 marriages end in divorce. This is a legal process that involves drawing the marriage to a close between two people.
Generally, getting divorced involves hiring a lawyer and spending a considerable amount of money. On average, a divorce will cost $12,900 at least.
However, getting divorced isn’t the only way to end a marriage in America. Getting your marriage dissolved may also be an option. So what is a dissolution of marriage and how does it work?
If your marriage is coming to an end, read on to find out more about marriage dissolution and why this might be the right option for you.
What is a Dissolution of Marriage?
The dissolution of marriage is very similar to the divorce process. It involves a court legally terminating a marriage that is no longer working.
Dissolution doesn’t “reverse” marriage or undo it. There will still be a record of your marriage held by the state. However, your legal obligations as a spouse will come to an end and you will be able to remarry if you want to.
You may already be thinking that this sounds a lot like divorce and you’d be right, the differences are fairly minor. That said, getting a marriage dissolution comes with some very specific requirements that do not apply to divorce. Let’s take a closer look at these.
Requirements for Dissolution of Marriage
In order to get your marriage dissolved, you have to meet several requirements. You must:
- Only have been married for five years or less
- Not have or be expecting any children together
- Not own a house or any other real estate
- Not own combined assets worth more than $40,000
- Not have a combined debt of more than $6,000
- Both agree to waive alimony
- Provide a written division of assets and debt that you agree on
Most importantly, both spouses must agree on the terms of the dissolution laid out. This is what makes the process smoother as there will be no to-ing and fro-ing between partners.
If you cannot agree on the division of assets (or do not meet these requirements) then you may want to look at your alternative options.
How to Dissolve a Marriage
If you meet the requirements for marriage dissolution, the main thing that you and your ex need to do is to file a petition for dissolution.
This involves providing evidence of both of your assets and agreeing to the outlined terms. For example, you will have to sign a waiver to say you won’t be seeking alimony.
You do not need to hire a lawyer to help with these proceedings although it can speed things up. A lawyer will also ensure that you both fill out the forms correctly. You can also hire a mediator to help you decide on the division of assets if you need to.
Once you have filed your petition it generally takes between four and six months to process.
Dissolution or Divorce: Which is Better?
Obviously, there are some main differences between marriage dissolution and divorce. However, if you meet the requirements for both how do you choose?
If you can your ex can absolutely agree on the terms of your separation then dissolution is the best option for you.
Filing for dissolution will save you both a lot of time and money. This is because you won’t have to pay lengthy lawyers’ fees. When you dissolve a marriage you also don’t have to appear in court.
All in all, this makes for the most pleasant separation possible. It means that both you and your spouse can get on with your lives as quickly as possible.
Alternatives to Marriage Dissolutions
Unfortunately, very few married couples are eligible for marriage dissolution. On top of this, those that are may not be able to come to an agreement about the end of their marriage. This is why there are several alternative options for ending a marriage.
Divorce involves many of the same aspects of marriage dissolution but is available to more people. You still have to file a petition for divorce and some people manage divorce without the help of lawyers.
However, lawyers and mediators can play a bigger role in the division of assets and in organizing alimony, child support, and child custody. If you and your ex cannot reach an agreement in a divorce, your case will go to family court where a judge will hand down a decision.
If you want to save money, you can legally separate from your partner. This means that you no longer have to involve them in your parental and financial decisions. Like marriage dissolution, you and your ex have to agree on the terms of a legal separation.
There are some benefits to legal separation. For example, you and your ex can continue to share insurance benefits. However, your marriage will not legally be ended so you will not be able to remarry without a divorce.
Annulments are extremely rare now in America. These essentially involve striking your marriage from the record. This means that your marriage never legally existed.
However, this requires very specific grounds such as:
- Physical or mental incapacity when entering the marriage
- One or both parties being underage
- Having been forced into the marriage
- Fraudulent marriages
Courts will make all final decisions on annulments and on the terms of asset division and child custody.
Get Help Dissolving a Marriage Today
Now you know exactly how to answer the question “what is a dissolution of marriage?” you’ll be able to decide if it is the right option for you. If you do meet the requirement this could save you and your ex a lot of time and money. So what are you waiting for?
For more tips and advice on moving forward with a legal separation, visit here.