Ending a marriage is never easy. Beyond the mental and emotional stress, not to mention the uncertainty of what lies ahead, there is also the legal process to navigate. After all, marriage is a legally binding agreement. In order to terminate that agreement, you’ll need to involve the courts once more.
The process of ending a marriage is typically called a divorce, but you have likely also heard the phrase “dissolving a marriage”. The question we often receive is, “What’s the difference?”
Before we get to that, it’s important to understand the steps leading up to the end of a marriage.
The Path to Ending a Marriage
Before a divorce, most couples typically undergo a separation. If they separate without involving the court system, it’s called a trial separation. Many couples enter a trial separation with a plan of potentially reuniting, though this doesn’t have to be the case. If the courts are involved, then the couple enters into a legal separation. This has clearly defined rules and responsibilities for each party.
Even under a legal separation, the couple may decide to get back together.
If they don’t, however, they will look to terminate the marriage. This is where a set of new terms comes into play. A less common option for ending a marriage is an annulment. Rather than simply breaking apart the marriage, an annulment legally voids it, rendering the marriage as though it never happened.
Annulments can only happen under specific situations such as a lack of consummation, fraud, mental illness, bigamy, and forced consent.
Dissolution vs. Divorce
Dissolution and divorce are terms that are often used interchangeably. Depending on where you live, they may essentially mean the same thing. In the state of Ohio, however, there is difference between the two. A dissolution is essentially a no-fault agreement to end your marriage. This typically means a shorter, less expensive process as both parties have agreed their marriage isn’t working, and it is time to move on.
All that is left is to decide the terms.
By comparison, a divorce is where one side (or both sides) allege that their spouse is at fault for causing the divorce. The reasons can vary and may involve abuse, cruelty, drunkenness, infidelity, and more. In order to win your divorce case and end things according to your terms, you will need to prove fault.
When to Speak to an Attorney
If you’re thinking of ending your marriage, it’s best to speak to an attorney sooner rather than later. They’ll help you understand your options and create a roadmap for the path ahead. Even if you plan to try and save your marriage, it’s still a good idea to speak to an attorney. That way, you will be prepared for whatever happens moving forward.
If the marriage ultimately can’t be saved, your attorney can help navigate the legal proceedings that will follow. A mutual dissolution is generally preferred, but it’s not always possible. When trying to prove fault in a divorce, it’s especially important that you have an attorney experienced in divorce law who is dedicated to representing your needs.
For an experienced, compassionate divorce attorney in the Springfield, Ohio area, contact the offices of Michael T. Edwards today.