Difference Between Dissolution and Divorce (With Comparison Table)

Dissolution and divorce are two legal means of ending a marriage. In most states, these terms often mean the same thing. However, there are some differences between the two, knowing which may help you choose the process that would be the best for your particular situation.

So, what’s the difference between dissolution and divorce? Let’s dive in!




Let us first have a look at divorce to give you a better idea about it.;

Grounds for Divorce

In order to file for one, one spouse has to claim that the other is at fault. Without any legally acceptable grounds for fault, filing for a divorce would be slightly different, as there are other prerequisites that must be met. Such prerequisites vary by state law. Usually, divorces like these are treated as dissolutions.

Legally acceptable grounds to claim for divorce include adultery, dangerous cruelty, being willfully absent for a certain period of time, imprisonment, neglect of duty, habitual drinking, etc. A divorce will not be approved if the testimony of the plaintiff is not corroborated by a witness.

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Divorce Proceeding

The proceeding of a divorce starts when a complaint is filed. Following the complaint, legally made divorce documents, commonly called the ‘divorce papers,’ are sent to the other spouse. But the divorce will not be granted for a minimum of 6 weeks after the legal notification of the other spouse.

A divorce proceeding is very lengthy because one spouse being at fault makes the issue a weighty one. Once the proceedings start, there will typically be a few different hearings before one judge. These hearings will discuss things such as custody of the child, asset division, alimony, child support, and so on.

  • Temporary Orders

As the proceedings are going on, you can request the court to grant you temporary orders related to support and custody payments.

Other requests you can make is the grant of an order to leave all marital assets intact throughout the divorce proceedings, to file for restraining orders if felt necessary, to protect one party’s share of the assets, etc. The goal of these orders is to protect the status quo of the family.

  • Information Records

During an ongoing divorce proceeding, both of the spouses have a legal right to get records of the property of the other spouse.

This phase is called the ‘discovery phase,’ and it involves professional help, such as forensic accountants, to ensure that all of the assets owned by both parties are accounted for.

  • Final Order

The main thing you should know about divorce is that the court of law will determine the final agreement between the two parties. If you and your spouse manage to reach an agreement in the middle of the proceedings, that will be the court’s order.

And if you cannot reach an agreement, the judge will take into consideration the evidence and testimonies to issue a final order.




Now, let’s have a look at the procced of dissolution of a marriage and the differences it has compared to divorce. Usually, a dissolution process is much simpler and shorter compared to a divorce. In a dissolution, the spouses work to come up with an agreement by themselves without getting a judge involved.

If you choose dissolution, you should still work with legal representation when doing so. This will ensure that you are getting what you fairly deserve and nothing is unnoticed. Not having direct legal intervention is the main difference dissolution has from divorce.

  • Subpoenas & Information Records

Because the negotiations of dissolution are done outside of a courtroom, you do not get to request any subpoena. Similarly, the sharing of information happens by volunteering of both parties.

But you can have professionals evaluate properties. You can also choose to use professionals wherever deemed necessary to ensure a mutually beneficial and fair agreement.

  • Final Petition

Once all the matters are discussed, and both parties have reached an agreement on them, they have to file a petition for dissolution with the court. The matters include child support, asset division, parental rights, alimony, visitation rights, debt & mortgage payment, custody, payment of all relevant fees, etc.

After filing the petition, there will be a hearing between 30-90 days.

At that hearing, both the parties have to be present and testify a few things. This includes testification of satisfaction with the agreement, assurance of disclosing all assets & liabilities, assurance of signing the agreement by free will, and confirmation that both the spouses wish for their wedding to be dissolved.


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Dissolution Vs Divorce: The Differences at a Glance

By now, we have explained all the ways a divorce differs from a dissolution. Below is a short summary of the differences;

Divorce Dissolution
Grounds for separation One party must be legally at fault Neither of the parties is at fault
Length of the proceeding Lengthy Shorter
Fees and other costs Costlier Less costly
Request for temporary orders Available Unavailable
Sharing information records Both the parties are legally obligated to share records of assets Record sharing is done voluntarily
Final order Settled by the court of law if the parties are not in agreement Agreed upon by both of the parties


Final Words

Despite having different processes, both divorce and dissolution result in a termination of a marriage. Whether you feel the need to file a divorce case or feel that you can be satisfied by an agreement of dissolution, do not forget to work with proper legal attorneys to protect your assets and rights.

Also, let us know your opinion on our difference between dissolution and divorce guide.