What Are the Different Types of Divorce?
When a divorce attorney talks about divorce, he’s talking about a legal process to end a marriage. Every divorce case ends the same way: with a Judgment of divorce from the court. But there are different ways to get to the same end. Divorce lawyers talk about two different kinds of divorce: contested and uncontested. There is another way to end a marriage that is not divorce. It’s called annulment, and it applies in only a few circumstances.
- How will I know which type of divorce I need?
California law has only two legal grounds for divorce:
- Irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.
- Permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.
Whether you’re going through a contested or an uncontested divorce, these are the only grounds the court will use to grant an order of divorce. That doesn’t mean your gripes are ignored. Adultery, abuse and abandonment are all factors in “irreconcilable differences.” So the grounds do not determine whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. This is California’s way of helping the couple get past their arguments to resolve issues of property division and custody.
- What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce is where the couple accepts that the marriage is over and resolves issues of alimony, child support, visitation and property division without the court imposing an order resolving the issues for them. The spouses essentially work it out on their own. Of course, that doesn’t mean the couple is alone. A San Diego divorce lawyer can represent either spouse in an uncontested divorce, helping the spouse understand legal obligations and ramifications. While the couple may be willing to work together, there will always be points of dispute. Divorce lawyers help resolve these disputes calmly, rationally and in a more cost-effective way than going before a judge. Mediation is often used in uncontested divorces.
- How is a contested divorce different?
The hope among every family law attorney is that a contested divorce will become uncontested through negotiation. In a contested divorce, the parties cannot agree on a settlement of financial, property and custody issues. Each side conducts discovery to determine the financial status of the other spouse, a guardian is hired to speak for the interests of any children, and a judge issues orders regarding property division and alimony. Most divorce lawyers agree that in a contested divorce, neither party ends up happy. The cost to both parties will be much higher than in an uncontested divorce. And both parties feel like they haven’t gotten anything out of the final resolution because they did not have input. Throughout a contested divorce case, your divorce lawyer will work with you and your spouse’s divorce attorney to try to bring everyone together and resolve disputes through an uncontested divorce.
- How else can a marriage end?
In exceptional circumstances, an annulment can be granted by the court. This is where a court rules that a marriage never happened. There are several grounds for annulment, including incest, polygamy and marriages entered into by force or coercion, when a spouse was below the age of consent, where a spouse was not of sound mind at the time, or through fraud.
When looking for a divorce lawyer in San Diego, think about whether a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce is the best way to go. And talk to you family law attorney about what path is best for you.
Contact San Diego Family Law Attorney Richard M. Renkin
Attorney Richard M. Renkin provides experienced representation for child custody matters in the San Diego area. He is also a trained family law mediator. If you have questions about any type of child custody matter, feel free to call (619) 299-7100, or contact the Law Office of Renkin & Associates online today.