While separation is often an emotionally tiring process, couples often choose between dissolution vs divorce to end their marriages. However, they must consider all the aspects of their relationship before deciding on the option that fits their situation best.

This article will shed light on the main differences and similarities between dissolution and divorce, what legal separation is, and how to choose the best option for you.

What is Legal Separation?

Explanation of dissolution versus divorceBefore we delve into the difference between divorce and dissolution, let’s quickly talk about legal separation.

While researching about dissolution versus divorce, you might come across legal separation. Unlike divorce or dissolution, a legal separation does not end a marriage. It is a form of a voluntary written agreement that a couple follows without living together. If one of the two parties violates it, then a family court can enforce it.

Usually, the reasons for which couples opt for legal separation include:

  • Religious beliefs
  • Wanting to legally keep the family together for the sake of the children.
  • One party benefiting from the health insurance of the second.

However, since the court requires the same documentation for legal separation similar to those for divorce and dissolution, couples often decide to end their marriage after gathering the necessary documentation officially.

What is the Difference Between Divorce and Dissolution?

Even though both types of divorces result in a legal end to a marriage, there are still significant differences between them.

Let’s look at some of these differences below:

– Divorce

To justify marriage termination, divorce necessitates that one spouse alleges that their partner was at fault. Fault grounds are legally appropriate reasons that explain why one spouse decides to bring the other to court and ask for a divorce.

The list of the fault grounds may differ from one state to another, but it generally includes:

  • Adultery
  • Willful absence for more than one year
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Gross neglect of duty
  • Imprisonment.

The divorce proceeding begins with one spouse filing a complaint and sending the divorce papers to their other spouse. The court, however, cannot grant a divorce for at least six weeks after the other party is officially notified. Keep in mind that it is essential to support your complaint or testimony through a witness; otherwise, the court will not grant you a divorce.

While the case is pending, one of the parties involved can demand the court to effect temporary orders. The purpose of these temporary orders is to maintain the family’s status quo on a financial level and parents’ responsibility towards their minor children.

Temporary orders include:

Moreover, the court can order one party to refrain from physically and verbally harassing the other. At the same time, the court wants to keep marital assets intact so that the judge can divide them as part of his final orders.

Throughout the divorce process, the court may place hearings to determine the merits of the temporary requests or have a party obey the court’s temporary orders.

While a divorce case is going on, both parties have the right to find out about any property owned by one or both parties, whether it is marital or not. Often, couples ask professionals to determine the value of assets such as real estate, businesses, and pension plans. The parties can bring these professionals to court through subpoenas.

How Long Does a Divorce Take?

The answer may vary between a case and another. However, it is not unusual for a court to finalize a divorce case for more than a year. The duration usually depends on the divorcing couple and the county court system handling the divorce case.

What are the Disadvantages of a Divorce?

Man thinking about how long does divorce take

A divorce case is often more expensive than dissolutions. Attorneys have to deal with discovery such as requests to produce documents, their client appearing under oath, and testifying at a pre-trial deposition. They also will have to defend their clients in court and argue on various matters.

Moreover, divorces look and feel confrontational, even though you don’t face any issues while filing for divorce and reach an agreement soon after that.

– Dissolution

We often consider the dissolution of marriage as a no-fault divorce, and the court does not require a couple to prove any fault grounds. The parties can file for dissolution if they can negotiate and agree on all the terms of their separation agreement.

Since dissolution parties cannot subpoena documents or people, spouses must cooperate by sharing all relevant information fully. Documentation necessary to reach a complete agreement includes anything related to real estate, accounts, debts, retirement benefits, etc. Couples can always hire professionals to evaluate a property or other assets.

Separation in any shape and form affects children on an emotional and psychological level. However, because of how the dissolution process works, communication between spouses is more manageable and smoother. The cooperation between the parents might alleviate the detrimental effect this separation may have on their children.

Marriage dissolution is way easier than the whole divorce process. It doesn’t require as many expenses since there’s no need for court involvement during negotiations.

Not only is the dissolution process quick from file-to-finish, but it also brings peace of mind to the couple who are trying to avoid the long divorce process and the emotional burdens that come with it.

How Long Does a Dissolution Take?

Generally, the process of dissolution is considered faster and more straightforward. In most states, the couple can have a hearing within 30 to 90 days from reaching an agreement and filing for dissolution. However, since dissolution requires a complete agreement on everything, couples might take extra time to get a complete agreement.

What are the Similarities?

Despite the differences between divorce and dissolution, both are considered official ways to end a marriage.

The two processes require the concerned parties to determine the terms of their separation in a separation agreement that must address:

  • Division of property
  • Child custody
  • Payment of debts
  • Visitation
  • Spousal support
  • Payment of attorney fees

Which is the Best Option for You?

Since no two marriages are alike, it is essential to consider what fits your specific situation.

Generally, lawyers advise couples to choose divorce instead of dissolution if:

  • They cannot reach a complete agreement.
  • They cannot communicate.
  • They need temporary court orders to ensure the family’s stability during the process.
  • They need a trial date set by the court to reach a final decision even if all negotiations fail.

On the other hand, if a couple (particularly a one with children) can reach an agreement through open communication, dissolution might be a better option.

How Can an Attorney Help?

In either process, the couple needs an attorney’s guidance to reach a fair resolution of all property and support issues. Parental rights and obligation issues are often complicated and necessitate proper assistance.

The court procedure is usually complex, stressful, and challenging to navigate on your own, so choosing the wrong option might cost you significantly. Having an experienced lawyer to guide you through the whole process is crucial.


  • Legaly separated man and womanYou might come across legal separation when searching for the best option to end your marriage. However, keep in mind that legal separation does not officially end a marriage.
  • There is a significant difference between dissolution and divorce. Seek professional help to identify what is the best option for you.
  • Every case brings with it a unique set of circumstances and variables. Before undertaking a divorce or dissolution to end your marriage, couples should, with a trusted lawyer, weigh the advantages and the disadvantages of both options and choose the best for their situation.
  • The length of dissolution and divorce varies from one state to another and depends on your case. In most cases, the process of dissolution is considered faster.

Whatever option you choose, you will need professional guidance. Thus, choose your attorney wisely and make sure they have your best interests at heart. You also want to consider what is best for your children to minimize as much as possible the emotional trauma that they might experience in the future.

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Divorce & Finance