Different Types of Divorce and Their Alternatives

Understanding the different types of divorce can help you make informed decisions and choose the best option for your unique situation because divorce cannot be approached universally.

Every divorce is unique, and the process, duration, and divorce cost all rely significantly on the couple, their level of communication, and their willingness to make concessions in order to reach a settlement.

In this article, we will discuss the various types of divorce, including uncontested divorce, contested divorce, fault divorce, no-fault divorce, and collaborative divorce. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding which one may be right for you to enable you to prepare for divorce.

What Are the Various Types of Divorce?

Each type of divorce has its own unique characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks, and it’s important to understand these differences before making a decision. In the next sections of the article, we will explore each type of divorce in more detail, so that you can make an informed decision.

If you are considering filing a divorce, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney who can help you understand the legal requirements and guide you through the process. An attorney can help you ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the divorce process.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce occurs when the parties involved cannot reach an agreement on one or more issues, such as property division, spousal support, child custody, or child support. In a contested divorce, the court must make decisions on these issues on behalf of the parties.

Contested divorces can be challenging and time-consuming, as they often involve complex legal proceedings, including hearings, depositions, and trials. They can also be emotionally draining, as they can lead to high conflict and tension between the parties involved.

However, in some cases, a contested divorce may be necessary to ensure that your rights and interests are protected, particularly if your spouse is unwilling to negotiate or compromise on important issues. It’s essential to have an experienced attorney on your side who can help guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties involved in the divorce agree on all issues, including property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. This type of divorce is typically faster, less expensive, and less stressful than a contested divorce.

The benefits of an uncontested divorce include the ability to maintain control over the outcome of the divorce, as well as the ability to save time and money on legal fees. In an uncontested divorce, the parties can work together to reach a fair and equitable settlement that meets the needs of both parties and their children.

Fault Divorce

In a fault divorce, one spouse claims that the other is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage due to actions such as adultery, cruelty, desertion, or addiction. The spouse who files for the fault divorce must prove that the other spouse’s actions led to the failure of the marriage.

In some states, fault divorces can provide advantages over no-fault divorces, such as a larger share of marital property or a greater amount of spousal support. However, fault divorces can be more complicated and emotionally charged, as they often involve a high level of conflict between the parties.

In order to prove fault, you may need to provide evidence such as witness testimony or documents that show your spouse’s actions.

No-fault Divorce

A no-fault divorce is a type of divorce in which neither spouse is held responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. Instead, the couple simply states that the marriage has irretrievably broken down or that there are irreconcilable differences. No-fault divorces are available in all states in the United States.

One of the main benefits of a no-fault divorce is that it can be less contentious and less emotionally charged than a fault divorce. Instead of having to prove that one spouse was at fault, the couple can simply agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and move on.

No-fault divorces can also be less expensive and less time-consuming than fault divorces, as they typically involve less legal wrangling and fewer court appearances. In addition, no-fault divorces can be less damaging to children, as they do not involve assigning blame to one parent or the other.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is a relatively new approach to divorce that emphasizes cooperation and mutual problem-solving instead of litigation. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse hires an attorney who is trained in collaborative law, and the couple agrees to work together to reach a settlement that is fair and equitable for both parties.

The collaborative divorce process typically involves a series of meetings between the parties and their attorneys, during which the parties work together to identify and address the issues related to the divorce, such as property division, spousal support, and child custody.

The parties may also work with other professionals, such as financial advisors or child psychologists, to ensure that the settlement meets the needs of both parties and their children.

One of the key benefits of collaborative divorce is that it can be less stressful, less expensive, and less time-consuming than a traditional litigated divorce. Collaborative divorce can also be less adversarial, as it emphasizes cooperation and mutual problem-solving rather than conflict and competition.

However, collaborative divorce is not always the best option for every couple. If one or both parties are not committed to the collaborative process, or if there is a high level of conflict between the parties, a collaborative divorce may not be successful. In addition, if the parties are unable to reach a settlement through the collaborative process, they may need to resort to litigation.

Default Divorce

A default divorce occurs when one spouse files for divorce and the other spouse does not respond to the divorce papers or participate in the divorce proceedings. In this case, the court may grant the divorce based on the filing spouse’s claims, without input or agreement from the other spouse.

Default divorces are typically used in situations where one spouse cannot be located or refuses to participate in the divorce proceedings. The filing spouse must still follow all of the legal requirements for a divorce, such as serving the other spouse with the divorce papers and meeting the state’s residency and filing requirements.

One of the drawbacks of a default divorce is that the non-filing spouse may lose their opportunity to assert their legal rights related to property division, spousal support, or child custody. In addition, a default divorce may not be appropriate in situations where the non-filing spouse is unable to participate in the divorce proceedings due to reasons such as military service or mental incapacity.

Summary Divorce

A summary divorce is a simplified and expedited divorce process that is available in some states for couples who meet certain criteria. The requirements for a summary divorce vary by state, but typically include:

  • A short marriage duration, usually less than five years
  • No children from the marriage
  • Little or no marital property or debt
  • Both spouses agree to the divorce and to the terms of the settlement

In a summary divorce, the couple may be able to avoid a court appearance and complete the process with a written agreement. The agreement typically addresses issues such as property division, spousal support, and debt allocation.

One of the benefits of a summary divorce is that it can be a faster and less expensive option for couples who meet the criteria. However, it’s important to note that summary divorce may not be appropriate in all situations, such as those involving complex property division or child custody issues.

Same-Sex Divorce

Same-sex divorce refers to the legal process of ending a marriage between two individuals of the same gender. Same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in many countries, including the United States, since 2015. As a result, same-sex divorce is now treated the same as opposite-sex divorce in most jurisdictions.

The process of same-sex divorce is similar to that of opposite-sex divorce, including the same legal requirements for property division, child custody, and spousal support. However, same-sex couples may face unique challenges related to their marriage and divorce, such as issues related to parental rights, child custody, and the recognition of their marriage in other jurisdictions.

Alternatives to Divorce

Just as there are different types of divorce, there are also several alternatives that couples may consider to address marital issues and avoid ending their marriage. Here are some of the most common alternatives to divorce:

Marriage counseling or therapy

This involves meeting with a trained therapist who can help couples work through their problems and improve communication.


Couples may choose to live apart for a period of time to work on their issues without formally ending their marriage.


A neutral third-party mediator can help couples negotiate and reach an agreement on issues related to their divorce, such as property division, child custody, and spousal support.


In some cases, a marriage may be declared null and void, meaning that it was never legally valid in the first place.

Legal separation

This is a formal court process that allows couples to live apart while still remaining legally married. Legal separation may address issues such as property division, child custody, and spousal support.

Conclusion about Types of Divorce

Whether you are considering divorce or an alternative to divorce, it’s important to understand the different types of divorce and which one may be right for you. Seeking the guidance of a qualified legal professional who can help you understand your options and make informed decisions about your future.

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply