Marriage Law Basics: What are the 9 Types of Divorce?

If you and your spouse have decided you can’t be married to one another anymore, or one spouse has left, it may be time to consider getting a divorce. Did you know there is more than one kind of divorce? Depending on how complicated the situation is, a divorce can be one of nine different types.

Summary Divorce

Couples married less than 5 years who don’t own much property, have children and don’t have large joint debts might be able to get a summary divorce. For this type of expedited divorce, spouses need to agree to it, and file papers jointly. The necessary forms might be available at the local family court.

Uncontested Divorce

If it’s possible to make it happen, the best divorce to get is an uncontested divorce. For this type of divorce, both spouses work together to agree to terms, and file papers together to make it happen.

Default Divorce

If someone files for divorce and their spouse doesn’t respond, the court will grant a default divorce. There are a few different situations the court might give a default divorce. They include if one spouse is missing, doesn’t respond to the complaint, and doesn’t provide a good reason for not responding to it.

Fault and No-Fault Divorce

In the past, someone who wanted to file for a divorce had to show their spouse was somehow at fault for causing the marriage to break down. Now, every state has a no-fault divorce option. Instead of proving one spouse is to blame, the parties tell the cour they have irreconcilable differences or that their marriage has broken down and can’t be repaired.

Mediated Divorce

In a mediated divorce, a neutral third party called a mediator helps both parties work out all issues in their divorce. They don’t make any decisions. Instead, they help you communicate until you can agree on the terms.

Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse works with a lawyer, but in a different way. They hire lawyers who are trained to work together and will agree to try to settle the case. Each of them discloses all the information needed for fair negotiations. They also agree that if they can’t settle things through the collaborative process, they’ll hire different attorneys and go to trial. If you’re interested in collaborative law, look for lawyers who specialize in collaborative law, like today, to find out more about the process.


In arbitration, both partners hire an arbitrator to make the same decisions a regular judge would make. They agree to accept his decision as final.

Contested Divorce

If both spouses can’t agree about who gets what you have a contested divorce. You’ll have to exchange information, go through settlement negotiations and hearings. If the case still can’t be settled, it will go to trial. If this is the type of situation you’re in, you’ll want to talk to a lawyer.

Divorce for Same-Sex Couples

Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont now allow people of the same sex to get married. However, they’re not the only states that allow same-sex couples to get divorced. In addition to these states, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Washington state also allow same-sex couples to get divorced if they’ve registered as domestic partners or entered into civil unions.

Divorce can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Reading through these different types of divorce can help couples decide what’s best for them. Once you’ve decided which one applies to you, contact a divorce attorney if needed.


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