Should I file for a Dissolution, Legal Separation, or Nullity of Marriage?

Do I want a Dissolution of Marriage?

A dissolution of marriage terminates the marriage, divides all community and separate assets and debts, establishes support, if appropriate, and determines custody and visitation where minor children are involved.

Do I want a Legal Separation?

A legal separation is a court-decreed right to live apart, with the rights and obligations of divorced persons, but without the martial status terminating. The parties are still married and cannot remarry. However, the legal separation divides all community and separate assets and debts, establishes support if appropriate, and determines custody and visitation where minor children are involved. Legal separation may be an option for parties wanting to avoid the stigma of divorce, parties holding strong religious objections to divorce, or parties hoping to save a marriage. If one party requests a legal separation and the other party requests a dissolution of marriage, the proceeding will proceed as a dissolution of marriage. In essence, a legal separation requires both parties to request a legal separation rather than dissolution.

Do I want a Nullity of Marriage?

A nullity of marriage is the invalidity of a presumed or supposed marriage because it is void on its face or has been voided by court order.

  • A void marriage, is invalid on its face and requires no formality to end. Void marriages include incestuous or bigamous marriages.
  • A voidable marriage requires a court order to invalidate. Examples of a voidable marriage include lack of capacity (one or both parties were underage), prior existing marriage, a party is of unsound mind, marriage was obtained by force or fraud, or a physical incapacity existed at the time of the marriage.

What are the legal methods of representation?

There are four basic choices:

  • Traditional litigious process where each party hires an attorney as the court attorney of record
  • Mediation with only one attorney and the parties remain in propia persona (without an attorney)
  • Independent legal consultation where a party remains in propia persona but seeks legal counsel from a family law lawyer
  • Collaborative where each party is represented by an attorney, however, the parties contract to stay out of court and agree to cooperate in four-way negotiations.

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