There are four primary options available for spouses seeking to legally sever their ties to one another. First, certain couples may qualify for an annulment, depending on the circumstances surrounding the initiation of their marital unions. Second, couples may opt to take advantage of legal separation mechanisms which allow spouses to remain legally married even as they engage in property division, child custody determinations and spousal and/or child support arrangements. Third, spouses may choose to legally divorce. And fourth, certain couples may file for summary dissolution of their marriage contracts.
Summary dissolution of marriage is not a process available to every couple. In fact, many jurisdictions are extremely regarding the circumstances under which couples may avail themselves of this option. As a result, it is important to consult with an attorney about whether this legal tool may be available to you and your spouse or whether you must choose from the other three legally significant options outlined above.
The summary dissolution process tends to be quicker, less expensive and less stressful than the traditional divorce process. It is also generally available to more couples than the annulment process. As previously noted, many jurisdictions have strict criteria for those couples seeking summary dissolution and these criteria vary from state to state. Your attorney will be able to give you more specific information about this process as it applies to you. However, you may wish to keep the following general guidelines in mind as you explore the possibility of this legal tool with your lawyer.
First, this option is generally only available to couples who have no minor children and who do not either own or have outstanding mortgage debt on a home. Second, a couple cannot generally qualify for this option if they own assets greater than a certain value and/or have debts totaling greater than a specific amount. Third, marriage cannot have lasted beyond a certain period of time. Finally, neither spouse may request spousal support as part of this process.
Although the summary dissolution process is relatively quick and affordable, it is neither accessible to every couple nor the best option for every couple. If you and your spouse have minor children, significant assets, fundamental differences in regards to property division or may benefit from spousal support arrangements, this option may not be the best choice for you. Please consider speaking with your attorney before committing to any specific legal strategy related to ending your romantic partnership with your current spouse.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about legally ending your marriage, please consider contacting an experienced family law attorney. Traditional divorce processes are not the only options available to many couples. From annulment to summary dissolution, mediation to attorney-assisted negotiation, there are many ways to legally end a marriage beyond a historically typical “courtroom battle.” Speaking with divorce lawyers in Rockville, MD will allow you to better understand your options so that you can choose the best path according to your unique needs.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and summary dissolution of marriage.