Dissolution vs Divorce: Understanding the Legal Separation Spectrum

Dissolution vs Divorce: Understanding the Legal Separation Spectrum

Most people know what divorce means but dissolution is another term that often comes up when a married couple decides to split. As with most issues pertaining to the end of a marriage, the laws and terms used vary from state to state. In fact, the difference between dissolution and divorce is different in the state of Texas than some other states.

There is also a question of semantics when it comes to the terms dissolution or divorce. In some states the term dissolution may be used to describe a legal action that ends a marriage (marriage dissolution vs divorce), while in other states the term dissolution may mean the same thing as divorce and also be used to refer to certain activities that occur inside of a divorce action.

Is dissolution the same as divorce in Texas?

There is no difference between divorce and dissolution of marriage in the Lone Star state. If you want to formally end your marriage and resolve issues pertaining to property division, you will need to get a divorce in Texas. Matters of child custody in Texas can be resolved in association with a divorce, if there are children of the marriage, but if parties are not married, child custody actions are filed through a suit affecting the parent child relationship or SAPCR.

Our family law attorneys are licensed to practice law in the state of Texas exclusively, but we do occasionally deal with divorce vs dissolution matters that originated in a different state. And we have dealt with some cases where there is a difference between dissolution of marriage vs divorce.

For example, some states view a dissolution of marriage much like Texas courts view an uncontested divorce or agreed divorce. In a Texas uncontested divorce, both parties agree neither party was at fault in the divorce, and they also agree to all terms in their divorce agreement. While uncontested divorces are rare in Texas, it’s a beautiful thing when both parties can amicably agree on property division, spousal maintenance (if needed), child custody and child support, and other issues pertaining to divorce.

If you recently moved to Texas, and your dissolution of marriage or divorce decree was finalized in another state AND you need help modifying or enforcing that decree, contact a Texas family law attorney for advice. What generally happens in these cases is the attorney can help you enforce a decree from the state where the divorce or dissolution originally occurred. However, if neither party currently resides in that state, the attorney may be able to help you get the court to transfer the entire file over to Texas.

In some states, fault grounds matter when it comes to dissolution vs divorce

The question of fault does come up in some states that view divorce vs dissolution differently.

Depending on the state, a marriage dissolution may not be an option and a divorce action may be required if the court finds one of the parties is at fault for the divorce. Fault grounds also vary from state to state, but some examples include family violence, cruelty, abandonment and substance abuse, among other faults.

For the record, Texas is a no-fault divorce state, so you don’t need to prove a party was at fault in order to get a divorce. If you want to get a divorce, you can get a divorce. Heck, if you want to get a divorce and call it a dissolution divorce, have at it! That being said, fault grounds can come into play when it comes to dividing a marital estate in Texas.

Texas is a community property state, which means all property acquired during a marriage (except separate property) is subject to “just and right” division upon divorce. If one spouse can prove the other party behaved in an egregious fashion and is at fault for the divorce, the court may award that spouse a larger share of the marital estate.

If you dont live in Texas and are wondering what is the difference between divorce and dissolution of marriage, contact a family law attorney in the state where you reside to learn more about your options.

Back to semantics, the term dissolution can be used in various ways

Merriam Webster dictionary defines dissolution as:

The act or process of dissolving, such as:

  • Separation into component parts
  • Decay, disintegration, death
  • Termination or destruction by breaking down, disrupting or dispersing
  • The dissolving of an assembly or organization
  • Liquefaction (in chemistry … like melting of ice)

A dissolute or indulgent act or practice

You can see where dissolution of marriage (and the act of divorce, for that matter) falls into the various definitions of dissolution here, right? While there is no legal difference between divorce and dissolution of marriage in Texas, the term dissolution can come up in different ways in a Texas divorce action.

When we’re dealing with dissolution in Texas divorce, the term dissolution is frequently used when referring to the dividing of assets. The phrases dissolution of the marital assets and dissolution of the marital estate encompass actions including, but not limited to, the dividing and selling of assets or removing financial obligations of assets from a party.

Of course, Texas attorneys do use the phrase dissolution of marriage vs divorce on many occasions as well. Honestly, dissolution of marriage is just a nicer way to say divorce, just like irreconcilable differences is a nicer way to say: “We don’t get along and can’t agree on much when it comes to our marriage.”

Have questions about divorce or dissolution of marital property in Texas?

If you live in North Texas and would like to speak with a divorce attorney Fort Worth / Dallas, the Sisemore Law Firm is here to help. Whether you’ve always resided in Texas and want to discuss options for a new Texas divorce action or you moved to Texas from a state where there is a difference between dissolution vs divorce, contact us. Our experienced family lawyers can review your case and recommend next steps.

To schedule a confidential case review with an attorney at the Sisemore Law Firm, call our office at (817) 336-4444 or connect with us online.

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