As a general rule, the term “dissolution of marriage” is used to refer to a divorce or the process by which a marriage is permanently dissolved. However, in a few states, such as Ohio, the term refers to the process by which a couple agrees to a financial settlement of marital assets, including payment of spousal and child support, prior to petitioning the court to end the marriage. Depending on the state’s laws, a dissolution of marriage may or may not legally terminate the marriage.
In a state with a separate marriage dissolution process, the divorce is similar to a “no-fault” divorce. Both parties must agree to every term of the dissolution. The parties voluntarily enter into a separation agreement after full and complete financial disclosure has been made. The separation agreement will divide marital assets and debt, determine custodial and support arrangements for any minor children, and specify the amount and length of time that spousal support will be paid to the receiving spouse. The separation agreement becomes part of the parties’ petition for dissolution. Within 90 days of filing the petition for dissolution with the court, there will be a court hearing wherein the parties will attest that they entered into the agreement voluntarily, that they understand and are satisfied with the terms of the agreement, and that their intent is to legally dissolve their marriage. The process for marriage dissolution is generally quicker and less expensive than traditional divorce proceedings.
Even in states that do not have formal marriage dissolution proceedings, couples can still limit the time and expense associated with divorce. A no-fault divorce allows one spouse to file for divorce without alleging any fault by the non-filing spouse. Similar to a dissolution of marriage, a no-fault divorce requires a certain amount of cooperation. The requirements for obtaining a no-fault divorce vary from state to state, and, in some jurisdictions, a no-fault divorce will only be granted after a period of separation.
Dissolving a marriage can be both emotionally and financially straining. However, cooperation between the spouses, either by way of a no-fault divorce or a petition for dissolution of marriage, can limit the time, stress and expense of ending a marital relationship.