9 Types of divorce in the US: Determine which one is feasible for you

Generally speaking, US citizens can file for two types of divorce – ‘divorce from bed and board’ and ‘absolute divorce’. The first one is typically used by the spouses who wish to live their lives without their spouse’s companionship as it allows them to legally separate without the hassle of getting stuck in legal matters. However, it is not available in every state.

On the contrary, the latter is more formal and standard among US citizens as it completely dissolves the marriage. US courts offer several methods to spouses to file for a divorce. In this article, we have focused on all the types of divorce and discussed when one should file for them.

Legal Fun Facts

  • There were around 2.2 million marriages that happened in the US in 2016 and 827,261 divorces the same year.
  • Marriage annulments have been reducing since the 1990s.
  • Every 13 seconds, someone in the US files for a divorce.
  • Each time someone re-marries, the chances for a divorce increase. In fact, the chances of divorce in a first marriage are just 41%, while for second and third, they are 62% and 73% respectively.
  • The average life of a marriage is approximately 8 years.
  • 66% of the divorces that file in the US is by women.
  • Only a few states in the US recognize ‘common law marriage’

9 Types of divorce in the US

We have listed the 9 types of divorces one can file for in the US in the following.

1. Summary Divorce

Couples who have been married for a long period, 5 or fewer years, don’t own much property together, don’t have joint accounts, and neither share children together can file for this divorce. It is the simplest type of divorce without the couples required to do lots of paperwork. Typically, in just a few forms, they become eligible to file for divorce legally in just a few forms. Moreover, they do not need an attorney to guide them in the process. They can obtain the documents from the court’s website or a local clerk’s court office. However, there is just one condition. Both the entities must agree to file for the divorce and file court documents jointly.

2. Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is typically for couples who are at loggerheads over their marital issues and need a legal entity to come to an agreement to settle those issues.

Contested divorces are costly, stressful, and time-consuming as the couple has to go through tiring and long court procedures, including paying hefty fees to their attorney for exchanging relevant information, making negotiations, and attending court hearings.

After all those procedures, a court trial will occur if the couple fails to resolve the case. The burdensome process of a contested divorce is the reason so many divorce cases end up reaching a settlement before the trial.

3. Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is generally considered less stressful in terms of dealing with court processing. It works as a collaborative process in which the divorce filing couple works together to define the divorce terms regarding the matters like child custody, support, visitation, property division, and alimony. Once discussed, the couple then needs to incorporate those terms in a written statement known as a ‘property settlement agreement’.

Once all the relevant matters are discussed, they can file for a divorce. Such kinds of cases usually don’t take much time to process. That means the filers can get done with it in a short period of time. In fact, in some states, the couple does not even have to appear in court.

4. Default Divorce

One can file for a default divorce if his/her spouse has parted ways and is nowhere to be found. In such cases, assuming that you have to abide by the court’s ordinance, a judge can officially grant the divorce regardless of their spouse’s participation in the legal action. From a positive view, it may seem to be an ideal scenario as no one is there to defy the court’s decision.

5. Mediated Divorce

Court offers divorce filers assistance to resolve their personal differences. The process is called a mediated divorce and comes under the “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) methods. In this process, a trained official, called a mediator, have a session with both the entities to resolve issues in their case.

While the mediator does not make a decision on the filer’s behalf, he/she will counsel the couple and provide every kind of assistance until they reach a sound decision. Usually, a successful mediation leads to a property settlement agreement.

6. Collaborative Divorce

A collaborative divorce comes under ADR methods which entail working collaboratively with this field professionals. The filers hire their personal attorneys who are obliged to work jointly with their clients to help them reach a settlement. Both the spouse and their lawyers must agree to meet with each other and their clients as often as required to obtain information and negotiate to reach a conclusion.

7. Arbitration

Sometimes, when couples cannot reach a favorable solution and do not want to take the case to court, they opt for arbitration. In this method, a private judge (the arbitrator) weighs both parties’ statements and acts as a judge to reach an unbiased solution just like a judge would do in a courtroom. This method is less expensive and more feasible for the filers.

8. Fault & no-fault Divorce

Earlier in the US, one must provide a reason to the court to file for fault divorce. For instance, abandonment, adultery, and other factors. However, now most states practice no-fault divorce in addition to a fault divorce. It offers an easier way to separate couples who don’t share many assets together.

9. Same-sex Divorce

Since the US allows same-sex marriage, it provides married couples with a legal right to file for separation formally. The proceeding and forms for same-sex Divorce are the same as for heterosexual couples.

There are many ways to resolve a divorce case peacefully and smoothly. That being said, some high-conflict cases are hard to tackle and thereby require litigation to resolve. Typically, divorce attorneys guide the filers to the type of proceeding to go for and how to settle a divorce case.

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