Ending a marriage can be a scary proposition, especially if you are uncertain about your options when it comes to getting a divorce. Although there are several different kinds of divorce, in general most couples in the United States enter into a no-fault, uncontested divorce. Unlike the nasty custody battles that you may see on popular television, most husbands and wives are able to come to an agreement about the terms of their divorce either on their own or with the help of a mediator. Very few divorces go to court.
Fault vs. No-Fault
Until the 1970’s the majority of states required “fault” to be proven in order for a divorce to be granted. Adultery, physical or mental cruelty, desertion, confinement in prison, physical incapacity for sexual intercourse and incurable insanity were the only grounds for divorce.
With the exception of New York, all states have now adopted “no-fault” divorce laws which allow couples to end marriages by citing such reasons as irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, and irremediable breakdown of the marriage. “No-fault” divorces can be initiated by one spouse and do not require the consent of both parties.
Although many states do still permit “fault” divorces in addition to “no-fault”, chances are good that you will be dealing with a “no-fault” divorce. Be aware though, that even in the case of a “no-fault” divorce, your behavior may still be taken into account when decisions are made about property, debts, custody and support.
Contested Versus Uncontested
If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement on issues such as distribution of property, division of debt, child support, spousal support and child custody, you will be filing an uncontested divorce, and be in the company of roughly 95% of the divorces in the United States.
If, however, you and your spouse cannot agree on terms, either alone or with the help of a mediator, your divorce is considered contested. Divorces that are contested can take a toll, both emotionally and financially. When agreements cannot be reached between spouses, the issues are taken to court, and a judge is left to decide how to distribute your assets and take care of your children.
Types of Divorce
Whereas divorces can be fault or no-fault, contested or not contested, there are also different ways in which the divorce process can be carried out.
Summary divorces are appropriate when spouses easily agree on the terms of divorce, or when certain eligibility requirements are met