Considering Divorce?: Key Questions Answered

Posted on: 21 February 2023


No one is happy about the dissolution of a marriage, but sometimes there are no other reasonable options. When a marriage is no longer working for one or both parties it's often the best way for both spouses to move on with their lives. This article answers some of the key questions that anyone considering divorce needs to know.

What is a Divorce Settlement Agreement? 

A divorce trial is typically something that divorcing couples want to avoid. A trial is a lengthy complex process with an uncertain outcome. When spouses do not agree on all outstanding issues but still desire to avoid a trial, they can seek to resolve their differences through a settlement agreement.

The settlement agreement process involves the couple negotiating through an arbitrator or mediator and resolving any and all outstanding issues, such as custody and the distribution of marital property. The final agreement will need to be approved by the family or divorce court where the original divorce petition was filed. If the family court judge approves the agreement, it becomes legally binding on the divorcing couple.

What Happens if an Agreement is not Reached?

When the two parties are not able to agree on the terms of the divorce, the final decision is made by the presiding family court judge. The trial, or final judgment, is where the attorneys for both spouses make the best case for their clients and the judge renders a verdict. The judge's decision on relevant matters such s child custody, the resolution of financial matters, and whether spousal support is granted is typically final. The verdict may be appealed, but the presiding judge's decision is rarely overturned.

What are No-Fault and Fault Divorces?

Every state allows so-called "no-fault" divorce. Under this legal doctrine, a divorce can proceed without either of the two parties having to prove the other did something wrong that ended the marriage. The grounds for divorce in a no-fault case are usually referred to as "irreconcilable differences" or a similar term. One of the attractions of no-fault divorce for couples is that neither of them has to show that the other was guilty of some marital misconduct, which can be both difficult and expensive to prove.

In a "fault divorce, on the other hand, one party must prove that the other is guilty of marital wrongdoing, such as adultery or domestic violence. One reason a spouse might file for a fault rather than a no-fault divorce is to try and obtain a larger share of the marital assets than they would receive otherwise. Not every state, however, allows fault divorces.

For more information about what a divorce entails, contact a divorce attorney in your area.