What Are All the Types of Divorce You Can Have?

Posted on November 18th, 2021

Deciding to separate from your spouse is one of the hardest decisions to make, and the process of separating can be just as difficult. Most people separate by means of a divorce, but that’s not the only type of separation out there. For starters, there’s more than one type of divorce, and there are special agreements, and annulments as well. Not to mention there are overarching categories of divorce and separation.

For example, you’ve likely heard of the fault and no-fault divorce labels, but these are overarching descriptions of more specific types of divorces. Whether or not a divorce is fault or no-fault depends on the grounds for which the divorce is being sought. This means there are several types of divorces that are considered fault and no-fault divorces.

Then there are labels that separate what exactly the separating spouses are splitting up between them, such as high-asset divorce and gray divorce.

It can all appear confusing and convoluted, but this allows you more freedom with how you want to separate. These different types of separation offer you options that may make the process easier.

All Types of Divorce

Divorce is the most common catch-all type of separation for married spouses, and because of this, there are numerous types.

All individual divorces are usually a fault or no-fault divorce. In fault divorces, one or both spouses will bring up a reason against the other spouse they claim is the cause of the end of their marriage. These causes can be things like infidelity, abuse, or abandonment.

No-fault divorces, on the other hand, are when the spouses agree that they have irreconcilable differences or have an irremediable breakdown of the relationship.

Contested Divorce

This is commonly mistaken and referred to as a fault divorce, but in reality, is commonly a no-fault divorce as well.

This is where the two spouses can’t come to an agreement on enough of their assets and responsibilities that they need a court to mediate. These responsibilities can include things like child support, spousal support, and visitation. Spouses can seek this kind of divorce whether they blame each other or claim to have irreconcilable differences.

Uncontested Divorce

Commonly referred to as no-fault divorce, but like with contested divorces, can be fault divorce as well.

This is where two spouses can come to an agreement on their assets and responsibilities. Usually, with the help of a legal mediator, the two spouses agree on how their marital assets will be split, how they will divide and complete their responsibilities such as child support, spousal support, and visitation. This will be written into their divorce, and they can file it with their local court, sometimes without ever having a court date. Most courts will fast-track these kinds of cases to save time and money, hence why many uncontested divorces don’t see the inside of a courtroom.

While it’s not entirely common, spouses can agree on how to divide their assets and responsibilities even after at least one claims the marriage was broken by the other spouse’s actions.

Mediator Divorce

Similar to an uncontested divorce, this is where a trained third party will sit down with you and your spouse to offer guidance to help you communicate with each other. This isn’t the same as the uncontested divorce, which forgoes mediators for the spouses’ ability to communicate themselves, or with lawyers like in a collaborative divorce.

These third-party mediators are not the same as official legal representation. They do not make decisions on your behalf, nor do they represent either spouse’s interests.

Collaborative Divorce

Similar to a mediator divorce, the spouses agree to resolve their assets and responsibilities without a court date, but with lawyers representing them both. Here, each lawyer represents the interests of one spouse, and they negotiate on their client’s behalf.

This strategy works to avoid taking the case to court, but this is not always successful. If they can’t come to fair negotiations, they must also find new attorneys before entering court.

Summary Divorce

This type of divorce is similar to the uncontested divorce, but specifically for couples who haven’t been married long, don’t own much property, have no children, and don’t have significant joint debts.

Sometimes called ‘simplified divorce,’ there are fewer documents and paperwork because there is less to agree on. It’s effectively like an uncontested divorce that works to end the short-lived marriage as soon as possible.

Default Divorce

This type of divorce occurs when one spouse has filed for divorce, but the other spouse doesn’t respond. This is also sometimes called the one-year separation divorce because, after a certain amount of time, a judge can grant the divorce even if your spouse never participates in divorce proceedings.

This is common if a spouse has abandoned the family, has been sent to prison, is stationed overseas, or has died without anyone informing the other spouse for a period of time.

High-Asset Divorce

This denotation is similar to when a divorce is fault or no-fault. This pertains to the value and amount of marital assets two spouses have to split, and any type of the previous types of divorces can be high-asset divorces.

There’s no minimum measurement of wealth that the divorcing couple needs to meet. Instead, it’s more that they need to have extended legal discussions determining ownership. This can happen for assets like co-owned businesses, extensive stock portfolios, exceptionally large trusts, and retirement accounts.

Gray Divorce

Similar to high-asset divorce, this pertains to an aspect of the spouses, and any of the previously stated divorces can be considered a gray divorce. In this instance, if both spouses are over the age of 50, it’s considered a gray divorce.

These receive a special distinction because of how likely they are to have had previous marriages to take into account, adult children, and assets that have accumulated wealth. These aren’t always more complicated than the usual divorce but typically are.

Kalinoski Law Offices Can Help You Decide the Right Path For You

If you’re not sure how you wish to proceed with your separation, Kalinoski Law Offices can help. We understand family law in Pennsylvania and can take a look at your situation and your needs for post-divorce life to suggest a divorce type that fits your situation best. Contact us for a free consultation.

Category: Divorce

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Craig Kalinoski
Craig Kalinoski

Craig P. Kalinoski is a respected attorney serving clients in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With a focus on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Civil Rights, he has established himself as a top-rated legal professional. Recognized as a Rising Star and admired by peers, Craig's commitment to excellence sets him apart in the legal field.


We fight for the rights of our clients in a wide spectrum of practice areas, ranging from criminal defense to family law and personal injury.

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