Your Guide To The Different Types Of Divorce

Getting divorced isn't the outcome most people imagine when they walk down the aisle, but sometimes divorce is the best option for everyone involved. Just like no two weddings are the same, no two divorces are the same, either. And while mainstream depictions of divorce might make it seem like the experience is a melodramatic theatrical production, many divorces are straightforward and can be processed without frills or pageantry. According to Brides, there are four primary types of divorce, though it should be noted that each state has its own procedures for obtaining a divorce, and it isn't a one-size-fits-all process.

The divorce rates in the United States are currently at a 40-year low following data from 2020 and 2021, reports Bowling Green State University. Even though the number of petitions for divorce are at a low right now, knowing your options when it comes to the types of divorces can help you and your spouse make the right decision for your family should you choose to seek a divorce. Here's your guide to the four common types of divorce.

A no-fault divorce doesn't place blame

When no particular spouse is to blame for the end of the marriage, or if you and your spouse agree not to make public the fault for the relationship's conclusion, then a no-fault divorce can be obtained (via Brides). A no-fault divorce occurs when fault is not mandated to be proven, meaning that no single person is asked to be identified as the one at fault for the initiation of the divorce. Pursuing a no-fault divorce also indicates that no marital misconduct on the part of either spouse was undertaken, therefore the namesake of this type of divorce is declared that no fault is registered for why the divorce is being sought.

The experts at Cornell Law School state that no-fault divorces are the most frequently filed type of divorce and that the no-fault divorce option is a modern version of historical divorce filings that required the spouse filing to declare a fault or wrongdoing by the other person in order to initiate the divorce. Instead of modern divorces being filed with publicly issued statements of wrongdoings, such as adultery, desertion, or a form of cruelty or abuse, the no-fault divorce option allows couples to legally separate without declaring that one person was in the wrong and caused the dissolution of the marriage. Because of the modern no-fault divorce option, many couples file on the basis of simply not getting along, otherwise known as irreconcilable differences.

An uncontested divorce saves time and money

An uncontested divorce is pretty much the opposite of the stereotypical depiction of a divorce in which two soon-to-be ex-spouses scream and challenge each other across a courtroom. In an uncontested divorce, it's declared that both parties are in agreement that the divorce should happen and neither one is making an argument against the other for assets or filing for any other type of action in the divorce proceedings (per Brides). Uncontested divorces usually don't require the assistance of attorneys, though it's always a good idea to err on the side of caution and consult with an attorney to ensure that you and your spouse are handling the divorce process correctly.

Because uncontested divorces can be resolved without the help of attorneys, there are benefits to going this route should you and your spouse decide to separate. Forbes reports that an uncontested divorce is a good option to choose if you want to save time and money, thus making the divorce process quicker and cheaper. Uncontested divorces tend to be resolved faster than other types of divorces, they are generally processed through the legal system faster, and both parties can effectively split assets in an agreeable manner and move forward with their lives.

Simplified divorce is the fastest option

An even faster method to legally finalizing a separation than an uncontested divorce is the option of simplified divorce (via Brides). Particularly for couples who don't have children or dependents, a simplified divorce is a form of uncontested divorce that's processed quickly through the court system within about a month from the initial filing. Simplified divorces can move rapidly from start to finish, especially for couples with few shared assets to divide and marriages that have been short in duration.

Since simplified divorces are often pursued by couples who haven't been married for long periods of time, the option may be confused with an annulment, but the two avenues to terminating a marriage are different in their respective outcomes (per ​​Law Office of Gale H. Moore P.A.) When an annulment occurs, the marriage is entirely voided, and the result is as if the marriage never even happened. In contrast, a simplified divorce is a legal dissolution of a marriage. Some states don't offer the option for obtaining a simplified divorce and require a regular uncontested divorce be sought, while other states have various requirements that determine which couples can obtain a simplified divorce and which marriages don't qualify. For instance, Florida allows a simplified divorce to be sought if the divorcing parties don't share children under the age of 18 years old and agree that alimony can't be awarded in a simplified divorce under state law.

Limited divorces and legal separations

A limited divorce is not actually a complete divorce or dissolution of marriage, but rather a legal separation between a couple, per Maryland Courts. Not all states recognize a legal period of separation, so pursuing the route of a limited divorce can fulfill the need for taking time apart while permanent matters are decided. During a limited divorce, disputes over assets and other points of contention can be discussed in documented sessions. Some states, such as Maryland, require couples to file for limited divorces and to subsequently handle issues, like custody of minor children and division of assets before the couple can obtain a full and absolute divorce.

One key point to acknowledge in a limited divorce is that the name may be deceiving as filing for a limited divorce doesn't actually lead to the legal end of a marriage (via Brides). During the period of a limited divorce or a legal separation, the court system or a representative of the courts will oversee the couple's separation and the respective matters at hand that need to be resolved. In some states, a limited divorce or legal separation can serve as a trial separation period, while other states don't recognize legal separations. If there are unresolved matters in your marriage, particularly regarding finances or children, then a limited divorce may be a good route leading up to a full divorce down the line.