It may seem that while getting a divorce can be complicated, that there is really only one way to do it, just with different components. There are actually a few different ways of approaching the end of your marriage. The type of divorce you can get depends on how long you have been married, the state of your finances, if you have children or not, and the reasons you are getting divorced.
Most states have a version of simplified or summary divorce. This is generally used for marriages of relatively short duration. The couple usually doesn’t own much property, have substantial debt and are without children. They must be in agreement on all issues involved in the divorce, and all court paperwork must be filed jointly. Simplified divorces are usually very quick, and they usually don’t require the involvement or expense of lawyers.
In an uncontested divorce, there is usually an attorney who represents the person who is asking for the divorce. The couple is in complete agreement on all issues, and they agree to have the case heard as an uncontested matter. Any written marital settlement agreement is signed off on by the parties before the divorce is final. If a court appearance is necessary for basic testimony, it’s usually only the person petitioning for a divorce who needs to be there. An uncontested divorce is generally much quicker, less expensive, and less stressful than a contested divorce.
A contested divorce is what most people think of when they think of divorce. In a contested divorce, the couple is not able to reach an agreement on their own, so they have to go to court for a trial. These issues usually have something to do with the division of child custody, assets, or property. Although it’s not mandatory, each of the parties usually has a divorce lawyer representing their interests. It’s far better to retain legal counsel in a contested divorce, especially when a party’s emotions can get in the way of making sound decisions. A contested divorce can be resolved by a settlement before the trial, which allows both parties to be satisfied by the outcome.
Those are the three different kinds of divorces. Parties might ultimately reach an agreement themselves, through mediation, a collaborative effort or even through a mutually agreed upon arbitrator. The better that two spouses are at civilly and honestly discussing issues, the less expensive and emotional the dissolution is likely to be.