What Kind Of Divorce Options Do I Have? (No-Fault, Fault Divorce, Etc.)

Updated March 21, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Not all relationships and marriages can be saved, and you may find that divorce is the right path for you based on the current course of your relationship and the issues you are having. If you have already made the decision to separate, you can now figure out what type of divorce to pursue. Divorce can come with a host of legal steps that need to be taken properly. To prepare yourself for the process of filing, it can be important to be aware of the different options you have according to your unique circumstances. In this article, we’ll be discussing the various types of divorce and their implications, which may help you decide which one could be right for you.

You don't have to go through a divorce on your own

1. Uncontested divorce

An uncontested divorce is one of the easiest types of divorce, and it is utilized when a couple who plans on separating works together to reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce. In this type of situation, the couple files for divorce and doesn't usually have to deal with court appearances because there are no issues between the two that need to be resolved by a legal entity. This type of separation also tends to be the least expensive and the quickest to complete. Couples desiring minimal conflict often aim to have an uncontested divorce.

2. Contested divorce

Couples who have a contested divorce can expect to deal with several court appearances and negotiations until fair terms are reached. If you can't reach an agreement with your partner on the terms, there are alternative options, but they may make the process of divorce much harder and longer than it needs to be.

3. Fault divorce

Although this type of divorce is not common in practice anymore, a fault divorce is a type of divorce where the person seeking the divorce must prove fault on their spouse’s end for the marriage falling apart. The reasons for this divorce must be legitimate and provable. For example, a spouse can file a fault divorce if they have been abused or neglected. This type of divorce is still practiced in Louisiana, Arizona, and Arkansas, but most divorces follow the next category's rules. If you are in one of these states, and you believe that you want to go with the fault divorce model, ensure you conduct careful research into what is required of individuals who choose to seek out a fault divorce. Be sure you understand what the consequences of this divorce will be for both you and your spouse.

4. No-fault divorce

Unlike a fault divorce, a no-fault divorce focuses on the idea that both individuals played a part in the breakdown of the marriage. This divorce isn't necessarily a divorce type but rather an explanation of how the divorce process will play out in a court of law and between a couple. With a no-fault divorce, both parties are treated equally and are not expected to prove innocence or guilt. The terms of the separation need to be determined in a no-fault divorce, which can tie into the divorce methods listed above and below. One might have a no-fault divorce within the uncontested divorce model, as an example.

5. Divorce with mediation

When two individuals can't agree on the terms of a divorce, they may require a mediator to help them solve their issues. This type of agreement happens outside of a court of law, and the mediator works as a messenger between the couple to help them reach an agreement without involving a judge or another legal body. Generally, if terms can't be reached, using a mediator can be the easiest option for both people involved.

The mediator can go back and forth and communicate the needs of both individuals until each spouse can agree on the terms required by the other. If they can't reach an agreement and are still struggling to find terms that work for both parties, they may have to forgo the mediation method and use a divorce process like the one mentioned below.

6. Divorce with arbitration

A divorce that requires arbitration is similar to a divorce that requires mediation. However, the person who solves a couple's issues during the arbitration process is a special judge known as an arbitrator. The arbitrator listens to each party’s story and decides what is fair for them to receive based on their arguments. This type of divorce process only happens if a couple is unwilling to negotiate terms and can't settle among themselves using processes outside of the court.

7. Default divorce

A default divorce is granted when one spouse cannot be found or contacted. Say, for example, that you have been married to someone who has left you and moved to another state or country without your knowledge. When you file for divorce, the court will typically require you to accomplish a series of tasks to contact your spouse and make the divorce known in your area. If you cannot find them, and if the court cannot find them either, the divorce will be granted without your spouse's consent. Keep in mind that the tasks they ask you to do may be quite extensive, and you could have to wait a significant amount of time before you can expect the divorce to be approved.

8. Summary divorce

A summary divorce occurs when a couple has not been together for a long period or doesn't own much between themselves. Those filing for a summary divorce file significantly less paperwork than those who must deal with any of the divorces listed above. They may also get by with fewer court visitations and wait less time to finalize their divorce. Much like an uncontested divorce, this can be one of the ideal divorce processes to go through, but it may be unrealistic depending on your current circumstances.

9. Collaborative divorce

Much like a divorce involving arbitration or mediation, a collaborative divorce requires the assistance of other people to reach an agreement on divorce terms. With collaborative divorce, however, each spouse hires their attorney to help them with their divorce, and after signing an agreement, the attorneys work with each other to help the couple agree on what is best for them. If they fail to reach an agreement that suits them both, the attorneys will leave the couple, and the couple will have to go through another process, which provides extra incentive to agree the first time.

You don't have to go through a divorce on your own

Online counseling for divorce options

There are plenty of resources available that can guide you through the process of legally separating from your spouse. If you’re struggling with the divorce process emotionally and need help coping with your separation, consider visiting Regain. Regain is an online counseling platform designed specifically for relationship counseling and can handle any relationship queries regardless of whether you are at the beginning or end of one. You may also be able to find a divorce counselor who treats couples either going through a divorce, couples who want a divorce, or couples who have just gone through a divorce so that you can find support throughout the entire process. Online counseling allows you to maintain a flexible schedule and lets you receive counseling from the comfort of your own home. It’s possible this type of counseling could be right for you.

The effectiveness of online counseling for the effects of divorce

If you’re going through or have already completed the divorce process, online counseling could help you cope with the difficult emotional consequences that often accompany a separation. Research shows that online counseling can successfully reduce anxious, depressive, and somatization symptoms among divorcees. Those participating in one study were found to have symptom levels close to population norms one year after their divorce, illustrating the effectiveness of online counseling. 


You can choose to take a variety of paths when you decide to bring your marriage to an end. This can allow you to choose the option that feels right for you and is appropriate for your unique situation. Many of these options can help ensure that the divorce goes through even if your spouse tries to put the divorce off or hinder the proceedings. While the number of legal options you have can be encouraging, the number of options for divorce and the divorce itself can be overwhelming to deal with, creating the need for guidance and help outside of the courtroom in the form of counseling. By connecting with a licensed therapist, you can gain support and guidance throughout your separation. A therapist can help you heal from your marriage and feel more optimistic about what’s next. 

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