What is an Absolute Divorce?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 January 2020
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An absolute divorce is a legal dissolution of a marriage that is declared by a court to be complete and final. Once this type of divorce is granted, the two former spouses no longer have any legally recognized marital relationship with one another, and are free to enter into new marriages with new partners. Absolute divorce is among the most common types of divorce and may be identified by various terms, such as simple divorce or no-fault divorce.

In many nations, an absolute divorce is much more common that what is sometimes referred to as a limited divorce. Limited divorces do not completely dissolve the legal aspect of the marriage, although this type of divorce decree does grant both parties the ability to segregate property and finances, and effectively live separate lives. With a limited divorce, the spouses are generally not provided with the ability to enter into new marriages that are recognized by the state as legally binding.


The ability to petition for and receive a limited divorce is more common in areas where religious or social standards tend to discourage a total dissolution of a marriage. This is particularly true when the couple belong to a religious institution that recognizes the legal implications of a divorce but still considers the couple to be united by a religious or sacramental rite. This makes a limited divorce helpful in situations where religious or social beliefs prevent the two parties from seeking an absolute divorce, but factors such as desertion or extreme cruelty on the part of one or both partners make the option of continuing to live in the same household impractical.

With an absolute divorce, all contracts that existed between the two parties are severed. Depending on local laws and any agreements that the two parties have made in regard to property, the assets held by both parties are divided between the two in whatever manner the court of jurisdiction considers equitable. In cases where the two parties are seeking a no-fault divorce, it is not unusual for legal counsel for each party to work out a divorce settlement in advance, and provide the terms of that settlement to the judge hearing the case. If the settlement is in compliance with current laws and the judge determines that both parties are willing to abide by the terms of the settlement, chances are the court will approve the distribution of assets and grant the divorce without making any substantial changes to the arrangement.


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