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Dissolution - A Stress-Reducing Option in Divorce Law

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, divorce is the second most stressful event in life. Only the death of a family member is a greater stressor. Stress is widely recognized as an epidemic condition today, but few are aware that stress is directly linked to more than 60 percent of appointments made to see physicians. Stress is a major factor in depression, heart disease, stroke and has even been linked to cancer.

When a marriage breaks up, the parties involved are often so consumed by the emotional fallout that they do not realize their health could be at risk. They are usually overwhelmed by all the questions that need to be addressed, such as child custody, as well as the reams of paperwork involved in approaching a divorce settlement. If the marriage did produce children, everyone recognizes that their needs must come first as the divorce proceeds, and that one of the best things that can be done for the children’s welfare is if the couple divorces as amicably as possible. The former spouses should also realize amicable proceedings not only benefit children; they can also have a hugely beneficial effect on the parties to the divorce.

One of the best ways to achieve this is by seeking dissolution as opposed to filing for divorce. Not all states offer dissolution, but there is a nationwide movement toward making the process of divorce a more collaborative, less antagonistic experience.

What is dissolution? Many don’t know, or aren’t aware of this option, perhaps in part because in a number of states, like Oregon and California, the term “dissolution of marriage” is just another way of saying divorce. In those states divorce equals dissolution of marriage.

But in the states that offer dissolution as the most amicable way to end a marriage, a divorcing couple must agree on all the issues resulting from their separation before they file a petition with the court. Along with the petition, a separation agreement is drawn up. This document lists and describes all aspects of their marriage ending, such as division of property, child custody, spousal support, etc. Once the petition and separation agreement are filed, within a few months a hearing is held. Both spouses must appear at the hearing to confirm before a judge that they agree to all parts of the separation agreement, and if so, the judge dissolves their marriage.

It is important to remember that the parties must agree on everything beforehand—every detail must be sorted out and agreed to in writing. But if the couple can communicate well enough to discuss these issues and come to that agreement, dissolution provides a much easier, and less costly, alternative to filing with the court for a divorce.

If you live in a state that offers it, consider dissolution. Find a lawyer who has experience with this branch of family law. Talk to more than one divorce attorney with this experience - some offer a free initial consultation - to find the best match for you, your situation and your budget. An amicable approach will be good for everyone involved, as well as for your health.

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