What is a Dissolution of Marriage

If you are searching for an answer to the question, “What is a Dissolution of Marriage?” then you’ve arrived at the right page. A dissolution of marriage is the formal, legal end of a marriage. The formal dissolution is rendered by a court. A dissolution of marriage will mean the complete end of your legal relationship as a spouse and will officially render your marriage over.

Some people confuse a dissolution of marriage with an annulment when in fact, they are quite different. An annulment effectively voids the marriage, and, in the eyes of the law, the marriage was never actually legal and proper. In contrast, a dissolution of marriage is a legal closure to a recognized, legally-valid marriage. It will not “undo” the marriage as though it never existed. 

Dissolution of marriage is also not the same as a legal separation. The distinction is that a legal separation enables a married couple, for religious or other reasons, to request the court to determine divorce-related issues, such as child support and spousal support, without legally terminating the marriage. If a court approves a request for legal separation, the couple will be deemed “effectively” divorced, but neither spouse is allowed to remarry until filing for a dissolution of marriage.

Dissolution of Marriage vs. Divorce

There are some states that have created a distinction between a dissolution of marriage versus divorce. For example, in some states, a married couple can only file for dissolution under limited, specific circumstances. Generally, in these jurisdictions, a dissolution of marriage is only granted when both parties agree to the dissolution itself and on an amicable resolution to all divorce-related issues, including:

  • Spousal support
  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Division of property

Father playing with son

Dissolution of Marriage Process

In order to move forward with a dissolution of marriage, a formal petition must be filed. This petition must also be legally served on the other spouse. Once served, your spouse will have the opportunity to file an Answer stating whether they agree or disagree with the dissolution of marriage petition. As the process moves along, the petitioner (i.e., you or your spouse) may need to file a more detailed complaint. The complaint will need to explain exactly what is being asked for and the basis for the request.

If a resolution is not achieved, you will need to move forward with a trial during which both you and your spouse will be afforded the opportunity to present evidence and testify about various issues concerning the dissolution of the marriage (e.g., child support, spousal support, custody, parenting schedule, etc.). If a trial is required, the dissolution process may take months to ultimately achieve a resolution.

When is a Dissolution Final

A dissolution of marriage is final when a court issues a final judgment and decree. The final judgment and decree contain the decisions of the judge concerning all issues raised in the matter. Your marriage will be officially dissolved the day the judge signs the divorce decree. 

A certificate of dissolution will be issued to you and your now-ex-spouse by the state. The certificate of dissolution is a legal document providing proof that your marriage is officially over (similar to the way a marriage certificate shows you are married).

Hire an Attorney

If you are contemplating the dissolution of your marriage or deciding whether it makes more sense to file for divorce, consider retaining the services of a skilled and experienced Marin County family law attorney such as Jeremy Castro. The legal team with Castro Law Offices is ready to help you during this difficult time. Jeremy Castro possesses the experience you need to handle an array of complex legal matters associated with the dissolution of a marriage or handle the necessary paperwork to file for divorce. Contact our office today so Jeremy and his legal team can go to work for you.

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