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Every marriage is just as unique as the individuals who got married.  It only stands to reason that if a relationship is ending, the way it ends will be just as unique.  The most common way that a married couple can legally end the marriage is by divorce.  This process can be confusing, scary, heartbreaking and can come with many financial obligations that can be difficult.  It is us to the individuals in the relationship to understand their wants, needs and what would be the best solution for them.  It can be difficult to know that things have truly ended, and there is no saving the relationship.  We don’t suggest trying to force a marriage to work if it just doesn’t anymore.  However, there are alternatives to divorce and perhaps these solutions may be ideal for your given situation or where you and your ex-partner are in life.

What are the alternatives to divorce?

Legal Separation:  This is a situation where the wife, husband or same-sex partners are physically and financially removed from one another.  If one spouse later wishes to pursue a full divorce, the terms of the legal separation can be converted into a formal divorce decree, which generally will speed up the process.  From a procedural and financial standpoint, a legal separation is almost identical to a divorce.  The same legal forms and division of marital assets must take place.  Unlike a divorce, however, both parties need to agree to the legal separation, and neither party is free to remarry since divorce has not occurred.  There are a few potential advantages to a legal separation versus a divorce, primarily inheritance if one party dies, or insurance coverage if your plan does not remove coverage as a divorce will.

Annulment:  Essentially an annulment is used if the marriage is viewed as invalid for a variety of reasons.  It is important to note that the court handles property division, spousal support, child support, and parenting responsibilities in the same way that it would a divorce.  A marriage can be annulled however if one of these scenarios takes place.

  1. One party lacked the ability to consent to the marriage because of mental capacity, illness, physical ability, drugs, alcohol or other substances. This also includes scenarios if one party was not a legal adult, or if they marriage under duress of either their spouse or a third party.
  2. One party was fraudulent and misrepresented something about the marriage. This could be them being dishonest about their financial situation, future goals or even if they had a previous marriage that was not legally ended.

If the court grants an annulment due to the other person’s fraudulent act or misrepresentation, the at-fault party cannot receive alimony or spousal maintenance.  This also includes property that was attributed to the marriage by the party who was affected by the dishonest actions of their ex-partner.

A Non-Divorce:  There are several kinds of non-divorce that can take place.  Although this decision may not be ideal for everyone, it can create short or long-term solutions that may work for certain people.  Depending on the couple a non-divorce may be beneficial if children are involved, or if neither party really has the resources to work with a family law attorney to achieve a divorce.  Examples of non-divorces that have become more popular include, living apart together, parenting marriage, or an open marriage.  In all of these situations, the spouses will usually no longer live together and are not financially responsible for the other person.  In general, these alternatives are more likely to be successful if you still like each other, communicate well, and feel the benefits of these decisions outweigh the costs.  You can learn more about these new alternatives by reading a post provided by HuffPost here.

Disclaimer: Using this site or communicating with Burton Family Attorneys through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship. This site is legal advertising only. Do not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your attorney or other professional legal services providers. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter, you should consult your attorney or professional legal services, providers.