An uncontested divorce typically occurs when one party cannot be found, is incarcerated, or will simply not respond to communication efforts by the other party of his lawyer. The spouse with an attorney simply files the paperwork with the court, obtains proper service on the other spouse, shows up with witnesses to attest to the incompatibility of the marriage, and obtains the divorce.
A dissolution simply means the terms of the divorce were hashed out by the two parties before any documents are filed with the court. There is no need to go to trial in front of a family court judge. Both parties show up in court and verify their signatures on the documents and that such documents contain their intentions on how they want their marriage dissolved. A dissolution is the easier, faster and less expensive way to terminate the marriage, dissolution does not necessarily mean undisputed.
Many couples agree to a dissolution for practical reasons. If there are no minor children, custody, visitation and child support are not issues that need to be addressed. If the marriage is short, there may be no alimony (also known as spousal support) to be awarded. If there are few assets to be divided, it makes no sense to have a long drawn-out fight.
That said, dissolutions can still have plenty of drama and tension as the splitting couple work out the division of community property and debt accrued, as well as child custody arrangements and spousal or child support, if applicable. It also does not mean that only one attorney is involved. Often, both sides have a lawyer. Sometimes, what starts as a dissolution ends up as a contested divorce proceeding.
The ideal dissolution is when the couple can work out their financial and familial issues without the intercession of the courts. If there is an impasse, most divorce lawyers would then recommend mediation or arbitration, also referred to as collaborative law. Mediation is where the two parties are assisted by a third party in making a mutually agreed upon solution. Â Both sides get a say in the final decision.
The other advantage of a dissolution is that all disagreements and personal issues are discussed in private and do not become a matter of public record. The moment you go to trial and take the stand to testify, your life becomes public. And again, when any case goes to trial, the participants lose the opportunity to control their own destiny because now a third party in this case the family court judge will make the decisions.
That is not to say everyone should have a dissolution. For example, when there are large, complicated financial issues, it may be prudent to have everything on record. And when there has been abuse in the marriage, a contested divorce can assure the interest of the abused spouse is protected. To see if your case is best suited for a divorce or dissolution, contact a good family law attorney.