This is a question that unfortunately many people face: what is the best option to end a marriage. The general population hears terms like dissolution, divorce, legal separation, annulment, but isn’t quite sure what each entails. Today we will hit the high points of each of these options.
First, Annulment. An annulment is unusual and it takes really specific facts for it to occur (unless of course you are Britney Spears). An annulment is a legal procedure whereby a marriage is declared null and void; it is like the marriage never happened. For the rest of us not living in Hollywood, annulments can generally only occur in situations where there is bigamy (whoops, I didn’t tell you I had a valid marriage to another person), mental incompetency, and consent by fraud, to name the big ones.
Second, Legal Separation. A legal separation is more common than an annulment, but still is not that frequent. A legal separation sometimes starts the proceedings to end a marriage, but is later converted into a divorce or dissolution. This would occur when the parties do not meet the requirement of living in Ohio for 6 months, but still want to end the marriage. So it would start as a legal separation, then down the road could be converted into a divorce or dissolution. There are a couple other reasons a legal separation may be used, such as personal or religious reasons, but those are less common these days.
Third, Dissolution. A dissolution is essentially a joint petition to end the marriage. Attached to this joint petition will be a separation agreement that has been prepared by the parties and their attorneys and that settles all disputes regarding property division, spousal support, child custody and visitation, child support, and payment of marital debts. This is the big requirement for a dissolution: that he parties both want to be divorced, and that they both agree on all the things I just listed. If those agreements cannot be made, on everything, then a complaint for divorce will have to be filed.
And that leads us to Divorce. A divorce, unlike the dissolution just discussed, generally places fault on a party.In the complaint for divorce, the person filing the complaint, the plaintiff, must allege, and later prove, that one or more of the legal grounds for divorce have been met: namely, adultery, gross neglect of duty (failure to support), bigamy, extreme cruelty, imprisonment of other spouse, habitual drunkenness, incompatibility of the husband and wife (one of the few ways to have a no fault divorce), just to name a few of these.
This is the just the starting point of ending a marriage, which is always an unpleasant and sad experience. But to have a trusted counselor and friend during the process makes it easier, and that is what I hope to be to you if you are facing this unfortunate situation. As the process progresses, questions about property, and debts and children, and money seem to take over. But I hope to be safe place, and a light to you during this process.
So if you or someone you know is contemplating ending a marriage, or just wants to see what the options are, please call me at (216) 209-3639 and visit me at www.ashleyjoneslaw.com