divorce papers signing

Divorce vs Dissolution of Marriage

Understanding the difference between a dissolution and a divorce when it comes to marriage can be somewhat difficult. Considering that many states define divorce as “the dissolution of marriage,” it’s understandable how one might feel unclear about the differences between the two.

Here in the state of Florida, when a couple chooses to end their marriage they have several options. If one or both party’s feel the marriage has reached irretrievable differences, either individual may file for divorce. However, if both parties agree to the termination of their matrimony, they may take part in a simpler process legally referred to as ” simplified dissolution of marriage,” also known as dissolution.

Key Things to Understand


Divorce is one of two ways in which to legally terminate a marriage in the state. Since Florida is a “no fault” state (meaning neither party must be at fault), either party may claim irreconcilable differences. Once the initial complaint is filed, the other spouse must be served papers, after which, a six week cooling off period must pass before the final “dissolution of marriage” may be granted. Both parties usually choose to hire an attorney to represent them as they negotiate the terms of the divorce, such as child custody, asset arrangements, alimony and child support.


If both parties are in agreement about the termination of the marriage, then a simplified dissolution of marriage may be the best choice. However, some key differences may not allow for such a filing; dissolution filings cannot be processed if the wife is pregnant, they have no minor or dependent children, neither spouse has lived in the state of Florida for more than 6 months, or they have adopted children under the age of 18 years.

However, if these conditions do not apply, a couple may file for a simplified dissolution of marriage so long as:

  • Both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and wish to end the marriage because of serious and permanent differences.
  • Both parties have agreed on the division of all their property (assets), obligations and debts.

Simple Wrap-Up

Divorce and Dissolution (simplified dissolution of marriage) both achieve the same thing: the legal termination of a marriage, referred to as “the dissolution of marriage.”

Florida is a “no fault” divorce state, meaning neither party has to be responsible for a divorce filing to take place, they must only claim that the divorce has been “irretrievably broken.”

In both cases, divorce and dissolution, one of the spouses must have lived in the state of Florida for at least 6 months.

For a simplified dissolution (dissolution) of marriage the couple must:

  1. Have no minor (under 18) or dependent children
  2. Have no adopted children under the age of 18
  3. Not be pregnant
  4. Have agreed on the division of all assets, obligations and debts before filing
  5. Both agree the marriage is irretrievably broken

Dissolution of Marriage Florida

Because dissolution is usually a faster, cheaper and easier process, many couples will choose this option when available. Most individuals will not be familiar with the legal terminology of court filings, either for a divorce or a simple dissolution. For this reason, the hiring of an attorney to assist, either on your behalf in a divorce filing, or as a mediator in a simple dissolution, is always recommended.

Paul H. Bowen is a Florida State Bar certified attorney with over 30 years of experience handling family law cases such as divorce and dissolution. If you are in need of an attorney, don’t hesitate to call our law offices today to set up a free consultation.