Ending a marriage is a difficult decision. In the midst of one of the most emotionally-charged times in their lives, spouses who have decided to split up must nevertheless approach the months to come rationally in order to protect their most valuable assets as well as the rights of themselves and of their loved ones.
Every couple’s marriage story and decision to end their marriage carries its own unique facts and circumstances. Thus, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to ending a marriage. Accordingly, it is important to understand the difference between a divorce, a dissolution of marriage, and an annulment in order to find the smoothest transition into your life after marriage.
A divorce allows a party to unilaterally terminate a marriage. When a party files for divorce, he or she is petitioning the court to end a marriage for a specific cause such as incompatibility, adultery, cruelty, habitual drunkenness, or willful separation of the couple for an extended period of time. This means filing a formal complaint against your spouse alleging sufficient grounds for divorce and then proving those grounds in a court of law.
Due to the often emotionally-charged grounds for seeking a divorce and the burden of proving these grounds, it is not uncommon for more than a year to pass before the divorce is finalized.
Dissolution of Marriage
A dissolution of marriage is typically the ideal remedy for a couple who has mutually agreed to end their marriage in seeking a “no-fault” divorce. Their reasons for doing so are irrelevant. The spouses file a joint petition requesting the court to terminate their marriage and approve a negotiated separation agreement and/or applicable parenting plan.
The chief challenge in obtaining a dissolution is coming to an agreement with your spouse and maintaining that agreement throughout the proceedings. However, assuming a fair compromise can be made, dissolutions are typically finalized much quicker and cheaper than divorces.
Finally, an annulment is a court order that mandates that the marriage never took place while officially terminating it. An annulment will not be granted unless the reason for ending the marriage falls under extraordinary circumstances such as lack of consent, fraud, incompetence, or bigamy.
Like divorce, the burden of proving the existence of sufficient grounds for annulment may lead to a longer, drawn-out proceeding before the annulment is granted. However, because an annulment effectively erases any record of the marriage, a grant of annulment disposes of any obligation to pay spousal support. Accordingly, it may be the best financial option given the circumstances.
Schedule a Consultation
Regardless of whether you are facing a divorce, a dissolution, or an annulment, you should not face it alone. At The Law Offices of Nicholas A. Kulik, we understand how difficult ending a marriage can be and want to help make it as easy as possible while protecting your rights. We welcome the opportunity to review the facts of your potential separation and answer any questions you may have.
We charge a flat fee for initial pre-separation consultations. There is no obligation to enlist our services going forward, though a consultation such as this will provide you a good feel for whether you want us to represent you.