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Divorce vs. Dissolution: Which is best for your case?

Two Closed Doors with Different Color in Front in the Room 3D Illustration, Choice Concept

By Tanja M. Holecek and B. Nicole Bush

April 2019

The choice to file a divorce action or to proceed with a dissolution depends largely on the facts and circumstances of an individual case. Generally, dissolutions are most appropriate for cases that are uncontested, or the parties can work effectively to resolve their outstanding issues. However, there are instances where divorce may be the most appropriate choice even if the matter could be filed as a dissolution.  The reasons can be strategic or practical.  Here are three reasons to file for divorce instead of dissolution:

  1. Long-distance spouse.  A dissolution requires the attendance of both parties at hearing to proceed to final resolution.  In some cases, the financial burden is too great, or a party is disabled and cannot travel long distances to appear for the final divorce hearing. However, with a “settled” divorce, couples can resolve their action with notarized, signed paperwork and only one spouse (the “Plaintiff”) needs to appear at the final divorce hearing, with a corroborating witness.  However, this is not an option with a dissolution proceeding.
  • Missing documents.  In any termination of marriage proceeding, parties must make a complete disclosure of all assets and liabilities.  When one spouse is not forthcoming with requested information or refuses to disclose all necessary documents, a divorce action gives both parties the power to obtain information or documents under threat of court intervention for failure to do so. This is unavailable in a dissolution.
  • Time crunch. A dissolution has no time table other than what the parties can agree upon.  In contrast, a divorce can be set to a timetable established by the Court and outstanding issues will eventually be resolved either by settlement or by trial.  With negotiations outside of a court action, an uncooperative spouse can indefinitely delay progress unless and until a divorce is filed.   

There are several reasons why it may be advantageous to file for divorce in lieu of pursuing a dissolution. Consultation with an experienced family law attorney can provide valuable insight and guidance as to how best you should proceed.  

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