Glossing over the fine print of a contract is an oversight most people have probably done at least once in their life. And nowhere is this party foul more common, than in a marriage contract. After all, between wedding day snapshots and cake cutting, most people don’t have the foresight to sit the happy couple down for a serious pregame speech about what might come after their marriage.
Which brings you here. Years later. Stressed. Hurt. Confused. Probably more than a little angry, and likely overwhelmed. Maybe realizing—for the first time—that there’s actually more than one type of divorce, and wondering where to find answers to all those questions you never thought to ask.
The first thing to know is, that despite their differences, all types of divorce serve the same, basic function: the dissolution of a marriage contract. Or, in other words, the formal division of assets, finances, and children accumulated during a marriage.
The focus of this piece isn’t to spend a lot of time talking about the different kinds of divorce—there are other articles for that. Instead, this feature will strive to answer some of the most commonly asked questions related to these different divorce types.
What is a Friendly Divorce Called?
First off, “friendly divorce” isn’t actually a legal term. That being said, “amicable” is often the word used to describe a dissolution in which both partners go their separate ways on relatively good terms.
An Uncontested Divorce (one in which one party does not contest the terms set down by the other), as well as a Collaborative Divorce (one in which both spouses agree to work together to find solutions to all major issues), are both good examples of amicable divorces.
Similarly, couples who decide on Pro-Se/Pre-Suit mediations, often do so on cordial terms. In this type of setting, both parties agree to delay filing an official lawsuit in favor of trying to work things out with a mediator.
However, whether filing a traditional suit or trying for mediation, it’s important to realize that divorce does not have to be an ugly process.
Of course, it’s all well and good to say divorce doesn’t have to be ugly, but how, exactly does one achieve that? While every relationship is different (and lawyers are by no means therapists!) the single greatest tool in helping the process go smoothly is to remember life’s golden rule: treat your partner how you want to be treated.
Granted, it’s a little cheesy, but it’s also true. Hurt and anger are a natural part of the divorce process, and under those circumstances, it isn’t easy to treat someone kindly. However, any effort you can make, will go miles toward helping your divorce proceed amicably.
Is Dissolution the Same as Divorce?
The short answer: yes.
The longer answer is, that in ye olden times, divorce was the term for what we’d think of today as a “fault-based” parting. (Like, if a spouse got caught with their knickers down, and was accused of infidelity, for example.)
Today, however, California—like most other states—operates under a no-fault system. Which basically means no one has to bear the blame in order for it to end. Couples can simply cite “irreconcilable differences” and call it a day. In fact, “dissolution” and “divorce” are now used almost interchangeably.
Theoretically? Yes. An uncontested divorce is simply one in which one party does not contest the terms laid down by the other. Ergo, if both parties are happy with the arrangement (and all other issues can be agreed upon), then the divorce is uncontested.
How Can I Get a Secret Divorce?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but a “secret divorce”—one in which a spouse files for divorce without the other party knowing—is not allowed the United States. This is for the simple fact that marriage is, at its most base function, a contract. And to allow one party to break that contract without the other’s knowledge, would be a blatant denial of that person’s rights under the agreement.
What if I Want a Divorce, but my Spouse Doesn’t?
Well, unfortunately for your spouse, one cannot force one to remain inside a marriage contract—that tradition died in the 1800s. The very best an uncooperative spouse can do in this situation is extend the process. As long as documents have been properly served, and a pattern of non-cooperative behavior can be established, an individual wishing to divorce can still do so by filing for a “default divorce.”
A default divorce gives the court power to make decisions, in the event one party refuses to engage with the other.
How Do I Know if I Really Want a Divorce?
The variables for and against divorce are extremely complex, interwoven—and above all—personal. So, while no one can make this decision except you, it might help to remember that divorce doesn’t actually break up relationships—people can and do achieve emotional distance from a partner all on their own, without going to court. A divorce is simply the legal dissolution of a marital contract. The process by which property, assets, and children, are divided between two parties who no longer wish to be seen as a joint entity in the eyes of the law. So, when you think about it that way, divorce is actually just the last step of a breakup. The formalization of what has—very likely—already been decided emotionally.
That being said, try to view the situation as impassively as possible. In the end, a logical, straightforward analysis of the facts, might be just the thing to help you decide if divorce is the right course for you.
Do You Have More Questions About Types of Divorce?
Unfortunately, even the most amicable divorce can still be laced with a tremendous sense of loss, confusion, and hurt. Knowing and understanding all the options can, however, give a person some small sense of comfort and control over a situation that no one ever anticipates. If you have more questions about the different types of divorce, and how they might apply to your situation, call us at (209) 989-4425, or get in touch online to schedule your consultation today.