Difference Between Divorce & Dissolution of Marriage

By Wayne Thomas

Most people try to avoid dealing with the legal system, and getting a divorce may be your first contact with the courts. The divorce process can be confusing because much of the legal terminology differs from ordinary, everyday words. With that in mind, courts often use the terms "divorce" and "marriage dissolution" for the same thing. Knowing which states make a point to distinguish the terms, however, can help avoid confusion.

Most people try to avoid dealing with the legal system, and getting a divorce may be your first contact with the courts. The divorce process can be confusing because much of the legal terminology differs from ordinary, everyday words. With that in mind, courts often use the terms "divorce" and "marriage dissolution" for the same thing. Knowing which states make a point to distinguish the terms, however, can help avoid confusion.

Overview

A divorce is defined as "the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court or other competent body." Divorce is the term we hear used most frequently in conversation. Certain state courts, however, may use the more technical term "dissolution of marriage" for the same action. Although these words are often used interchangeably, the technical term may be used in court or on forms.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Exception to the Rule

At least one state makes a distinction between divorce and dissolution of marriage, yet the result is still the same: ending of the marriage. In Ohio, the term divorce applies to situations in which one spouse alleges the other is at fault for the collapse of the marriage. The faster and generally less expensive process for terminating a marriage, when neither spouse contests the decision, is referred to as dissolution. In that case, the parties reach a settlement agreement prior to the filing of the petition, which must address issues related to property, any minor children and debts.

Terminology and Grounds

Differences from state to state over terminology can sometimes be explained by whether the state still allows fault grounds for divorce or whether the state is pure no-fault. States that allow fault grounds more frequently use the term divorce while no-fault states use the term dissolution of marriage more often. For example, in Oregon, a pure no fault-state, the term used in the state's laws is dissolution of marriage. By contrast, Alaska, a state still allowing traditional fault grounds, uses the term divorce in its laws.

No-Fault vs. Uncontested

An uncontested divorce and a no-fault divorce are not the same thing. Contesting a divorce simply means that one spouse challenges what the other spouse wrote in their divorce petition. A spouse can contest issues other than the reason for the divorce. For example, a spouse could dispute a proposed property distribution or child custody arrangement.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Is a Sexless Marriage Grounds for a Divorce in Georgia?

References

Related articles

Ohio No-Fault Divorce Requirements

Ohio couples can choose an uncontested divorce, called a dissolution, in which they agree to the divorce and on all major issues. However, if spouses cannot agree on one or more issues, they will enter into a contested divorce instead. In Ohio, dissolution and divorce have different procedures, but both result in the termination of a marriage.

Common Law Divorce & Kansas Custody Rules

When we think of marriage, we often picture a ceremony presided over by a judge or clergyman before family and friends. However, some states still recognize marriages that are not formed in this manner, but rather arise from a couple living together and holding themselves out to the public as married. Such relationships are known as common law marriages, and Kansas is one of the few remaining states that still recognize them. In Kansas, common law spouses are subject to the same divorce and custody rules as traditionally married couples.

What Goes to the Essence of Marriage in Annulment Cases?

Annulment isn't an easy fix for an "oops" marriage. In fact, it's typically far simpler to get a divorce, because all states now recognize some form of no-fault grounds. An annulment is a ruling by the court that your marriage should never have existed in the first place, and it can be difficult to prove that. That is particularly true if you want to establish that your union is the result of something that went to the essence of the marriage.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Divorce Court Terms

From filing a complaint to equitable distribution of property, you will encounter many legal terms when going through a ...

What Is a Unilateral Divorce?

Unilateral divorce describes a divorce in which one spouse terminates the marriage without the consent of the other ...

Louisiana Annulment Statute

If a marriage does not meet the requirements of Louisiana law, the marriage may be null and void. With an annulment, it ...

How an Inmate Obtains a Divorce in Ohio

Although filing for divorce while incarcerated poses a unique set of challenges, the process itself is the same for all ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED