Divorces v. Dissolutions: The Pro’s and Con’s

Divorces v. Dissolutions: The Pro’s and Con’s

There are many articles out there exploring the differences between divorces and dissolutions, but not many giving inside knowledge on which is the best for a specific situation. Both are ways to dissolve a marital union and the end results are the same; the difference is the process that the parties go through. There are pros and cons to each method that may not be readily apparent to the parties and in this blog, Sierra Causey discusses the different processes.

Dissolutions require the parties to agree on all aspects of their separation, write down their agreement, then submit it to the court. A divorce is filed by one party and the court will hold a series of hearings to make decisions on the terms of the termination of the parties’ marriage.

Pros of Divorce:

  • You can still make agreements: There is a misconception that divorces require everything to be litigated in a hostile fashion, but this is not true at all. The parties can still make agreements on specific issues and reserve the right to have the court and judge hear issues that cannot be resolved by agreement.
  • It is always moving forward: The divorce process is always moving forward towards the end goal. Unless the filing party dismisses the Complaint for Divorce, there is no way for the other party to stop the process from moving forward.  In the event that there is a Counterclaim for Divorce filed, both parties would need to dismiss to stop the progression of the case.

Cons of Divorce: 

  • It can get expensive: The two biggest determining factors of cost are the following: 1) the parties’ attitude and behavior towards each other and 2) the attorneys if there are attorneys.  The bad news is that litigation can cost the client a lot of money. The good news is that the client has control over their own attitude, behavior, and level of assistance they seek from their attorney, which contributes to the cost.  The more willing and able the parties are to work together, the less the process will cost.  As you are considering whether to invest in the cost of an attorney, you should consider your ability to be objective in a matter of your own heart, and the benefit of having a strategic partner to walk you through the process.
  • It can be a LONG process: A contested divorce can be a long process (especially if there are children involved) so it can drag out for a long period of time, which costs time, money, and mental energy.
  • A divorce can be emotionally exhausting: People have different ways of processing emotions and divorce can have negative effects on anxiety levels, depression, and overall mental health.
  • A divorce can be forced upon you: If a party properly files for divorce, the other party cannot stop the proceeding; the divorce happens regardless of whether the other party wants to divorce or not.
  • This process does not offer closure: Some people need closure at the end of their relationships. Going through a divorce may not give one party the opportunity to express feelings or give a clean break to the relationship, since the parties may not be communicating directly.

Pros of Dissolution: 

  • Cost-effective: The time and money that you are spending on your attorney for the dissolution goes towards drafting the paperwork needed to achieve your separation. No trial prep is required for this option. Further, the parties can cut back on costs if they have already talked about how to split their assets, debts, and custody of any children.
    • Disclaimer: A dissolution is only cost-effective if both spouses are willing and able to work together.
  • It is relatively quick: If you and your spouse aren’t able to negotiate the terms of dissolution within a six month time period, the dissolution process probably isn’t for you and you should talk to an attorney about filing for divorce.  In situations where the parties work relatively well together, the dissolution can go quickly and will only require one final, fifteen-minute hearing at the end of the process.

Cons of Dissolution: 

  • It’s difficult to be a good candidate for a dissolution: Dissolutions require the parties to agree on ALL terms of the termination of marriage including, but not limited to court costs, attorneys fees, division of assets, allocation of debts, custody, parenting time, spousal support, and child support. Many parties cannot agree on everything before the filing of any documents, so dissolution is not an option.
  • A party can back out: When going through a dissolution, the parties take the risk that one of them may not be negotiating the terms in good faith. The parties could get several months into negotiations and one of the parties can refuse to sign any documents.  (This is why we recommend not negotiating a dissolution for more than six months).  Even if all documents are signed, there is a risk that one party will change their mind and tell the court that they do not want to agree to the signed documents at the final hearing. If that occurs, it is likely the Judge will not grant the dissolution at the final hearing, and the parties will need to go back to the drawing board on the terms of the dissolution, file for divorce, or abandon the dissolution of marriage altogether.
    • Disclaimer: It is important to note that any signed agreements may be able to be used in divorce and by signing documents, you are risking that a court will enforce signed agreements. Sign documents only after consulting with an attorney!