Dissolution law is an area of the law pertaining to the termination of legal relationships, ranging from partnerships in a business to marriages. This area of the law is quite broad and can be quite byzantine in nature. Attorneys in a variety of fields including divorce law, business law, and family law must familiarize themselves with dissolution law to work effectively and efficiently. Like other areas of the law, it can also vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in terms, scope, and other matters.
One area of dissolution law many people are familiar with is the dissolution of marriages, a process known as divorce. In a divorce, a legally recognized relationship is dissolved, the assets associated with the relationship are divided, and one partner may be required to pay maintenance to the other, depending on the circumstances. In a related family law concept, dissolution is also involved when people choose to terminate parental rights, as happens when children are given up for adoption or people wish to reverse adoption proceedings.
Business relationships can also be subject to dissolution and accompanying legal proceedings to formalize the termination of the relationship. A partnership can be dissolved to close a business or change the nature of the company. This area of dissolution law covers terminating the original relationship, honoring remaining contracts, and determining how assets should be divided. Contract law can also involve dissolution law, as it is possible for people to dissolve legal contracts when they are fulfilled, one person reneges, or there is a mutual agreement to terminate a contract, for any number of reasons.
The concept of dissolution also comes up in the sense of dissolving national entities. Individual political entities with a mutual relationship, such as nation-states inside a larger union or protectorate, can turn to dissolution law to dissolve that relationship and become independent. The legal system also invokes dissolution law when courts choose to dissolve injunctions and other court orders. This may be done in response to new evidence or developments, or for other reasons.
This area of the law can become very complicated. Terminating legal relationships often requires tying up a number of loose ends, as such relationships can include substantial mutual holdings, contractual obligations, and other matters. The process of dissolution can take weeks or months from start to finish, even when everyone involved is cooperative and interested in reaching a smooth and mutually satisfactory resolution to the situation.