A divorce is essentially a lawsuit in which one spouse sues the other spouse to end the marriage. Common grounds for divorce include: negligence, adultery, infidelity, domestic abuse, or general incompatibility.
The lawsuit covers all aspects of the termination including the division of marital assets, child custody and support, and spousal support. Divorce proceedings typically last anywhere from 1 to 4 years.
A dissolution is a joint legal proceeding by both spouses to terminate the marriage. Because it is not a lawsuit, it is handled by a domestic relations court.
The husband and the wife file a joint petition for dissolution of the marriage. An additional separation agreement is included with the petition to document all agreements in relation to the termination of the marriage. The separation agreement is a legally binding contract.
Once the petition for dissolution and separation agreement have been filed with the domestic relations court, a dissolution hearing is held (usually within 30 to 60 days). At the hearing, the domestic relations judge will ask both the husband and wife if they still want to end the marriage and if they want the termination to be handled by the petition for dissolution and separation agreement. If the answer is yes, then the judge will grant them a divorce and the separation agreement is incorporated into the judgment decree. Dissolutions are usually resolved within one year.
A separation is when one spouse seeks to live completely apart from the other spouse without actually ending the marriage. A legal separation action is filed with the domestic relations court. It typically includes a request for the division of marital assets and a determination of child custody and other parenting issues. A legal separation can be converted into a divorce action later if requested by one of the parties. Legal separations are usually granted in less than a year.
Divorce and Family Law Attorneys: Karen Meyer, Olivia Smith, & Michael Spillane,