Look back to the 1950s and there was no such thing as a same sex divorce and uncontested divorces were rare. In the “old days,” divorce was very much frowned upon and in many cases, one of the spouses went into the courtroom kicking and screaming. Today, society looks upon divorces a bit kinder and “fault” divorces are becoming less common as couples often prefer to keep their “dirty laundry” private.

Types of DivorceIf you are considering divorce, there are 10 categories of divorce:

  • Arbitration
  • Collaborative
  • Contested
  • Default
  • Divorce for Same Sex Couples
  • Fault
  • Mediated
  • No Fault
  • Uncontested
  • Summary
  • Arbitration


Both spouses agree to hire a third party (a judge) to arbitrate the divorce settlement. By doing so, you both agree that his or her final decision will be binding in the divorce agreement. The advantage here is that you can select the judge making the decisions instead of having a judge assigned to the case. One disadvantage is that this individual is paid by the hour, so a long negotiation will result in higher fees.


Each party hires an attorney on the premise both parties and their attorneys will work together to come to an agreement of an amicable settlement. Your attorneys are obviously there with your best interests in mind, but they are specifically trained to work more in a collaborative effort instead of a combative one. If, for some reason, these attorneys are unable to come to an agreement, both parties would hire new attorneys and go to trial.


This type of divorce is one of two that would be considered a worst-case scenario (with the other being a fault divorce). The couple cannot come to any type of agreement concerning the division of assets and/or child custody and neither party is willing to budge. While there is still generally negotiation sessions, these cases will ultimately wind up in court. While you may be able to get by without an attorney in some situations, this will not be one of them.


This type of divorce is much as it sounds. One party would file for divorce and the other party is either not present or does not respond, therefore, the case is decided by default. For instance, one of the spouse’s simply leaves the relationship and disappears with no contact information. The remaining spouse could file for divorce. Since the second party is unreachable, this would qualify as a default divorce. This could also occur if the second party simply ignores the legal notices concerning the divorce and does not show up at any of the proceedings to present his or her case.

Divorce for Same Sex Couples

While there are only currently six states and the District of Columbia that allow same sex marriages, nine more states allow same sex marriage divorces. For these couples, divorce procedures are very much the same as a “traditional” couple seeking a divorce.


Slowly but surely, fault divorce is becoming a thing of the past. Currently, about one-third of all states do not even allow “fault” divorces. While every state has its own specific guidelines, common reasons for a fault divorce are:

  • Abandonment
  • Abuse
  • Adultery
  • Felony conviction
  • Substance abuse

In these types of cases, fault can often influence the courts in different aspects pertaining to the settlement of the divorce. Alimony, property division, and the divorce itself may all be favorably slanted towards the party found not at fault.


Like an arbitrated divorce, a third party is hired to assist in the proceedings. However, this individual is not there to create a binding agreement, but rather assist in ensuring the communication lines remain open and to work through some of the tougher details of the divorce. It is still up to both parties to come to a final agreement that can then be presented to the courts for approval. This, in essence, becomes an uncontested divorce.

No Fault

This is probably the most common type of divorce “reason” today. On most filings, you will see terms such as “irreconcilable differences” as the official reason for the divorce. This is more or less a fancy way of saying that there is no hope of the couple being able to work things out and they have both decided to go their separate ways.

High profile marriages often use this simply to keep their dirty laundry out of the press. By filing no fault with irreconcilable differences, the parties are not required to tell the court the exact reason for the divorce, even if there was behavior that would be considered typical of a fault divorce.

There are, however, still a few states in the country that do not allow irreconcilable differences as the reason for the divorce. But, in these states, you are able to give “separation” as your reason. In these states, there is a mandated time frame for which the couples must be separated, or living in independent dwellings. Once this period has passed, they are then able to file for a no fault divorce using separated as the reason for the divorce instead of irreconcilable differences.


Also sometimes called an amicable divorce. If both parties are in agreement on all items, this is absolutely the best solution. The couple can work things out on their own and may even be able to avoid court altogether. However, even though you are working out the details, both parties are best served to individually hire an attorney to look over the final documents. The attorney can also handle all filings that need to be done with the courts. While there will be some legal fees for these services, they will be far less than for any other type of divorce.

In most cases, an uncontested divorce will cost less than $5,000 (unless specialists, such as actuaries, are called in for consultations).


This is generally used for couples that have not been married for a very long time. For instance, a couple is married in 2005 and in 2008 decides to get a divorce. They have been renting and do not own a home, nor have they made any purchases that would be considered marital property. They also have no children.

In this type of situation, there would be very little to “formally” work out other than agreeing to the actual divorce. Without any property division and/or child custody to worry about, the parties can file the required paperwork, with or without the help of an attorney, and proceed with the divorce.

As you can see, there is literally a type of divorce for just about any situation. With the Internet, many people will try to handle all aspects of a divorce on their own, but we would always recommend the assistance of an attorney before finalizing any agreement. This is not to try to prolong the divorce, but to ensure all paperwork has been filled out and filed properly as well as not overlooking some small detail that could come back to haunt you later, even if it is an uncontested or amicable divorce. This is especially true if your spouse has hired an attorney and you are trying to handle the legalities of the case on your own.

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