The 4 types of divorce and their most common causes

In some European countries, more than 50% of marriages end up in divorce. Based on these figures, it is interesting to know the modalities of this administrative process.


Love is defined as a feeling that represents the affinity between beings, that is, an emotional current related to affection and attachment that results from a series of attitudes, emotions and experiences between two or more living entities. Love is subjective and of each one, but human beings follow a series of common biochemical patterns that translate into certain emotions and behaviors related to this theme.

Interestingly, studies have shown that the physiological bases on which pure attraction rests (“butterflies in the stomach”) disappear after 2-3 years of mating, with a maximum duration of 7 years. Without a doubt, love is not simply a set of neurotransmitters and, therefore, there are couples who live happily and love each other for a lifetime, although the most “primal” part of the feeling diminishes with time.

Perhaps because of this sentimental senescence or because of social and cultural issues, divorce today is an extremely common event . Without going any further, more than 827,000 couples divorced in the United States in 2018. Things are not looking much better in Europe: in Portugal up to 72% of marriages end in divorce, while in Germany the figure is around 40 -Four. Five %.

These figures do not indicate anything bad on their own: every human being is free and, as such, can decide with whom to spend and not spend their days. Divorce is not a pleasant process for anyone, but neither should it be conceived as a taboo or a sentence: understanding is as natural as disagreement . Based on this premise, today we show you the 4 types of divorce and their characteristics.

What is divorce?

Divorce can be defined as the dissolution of a marriage , that is, a process that is intended to end a conjugal union. If we seek a more democratic and legislative explanation of the term, the legal encyclopedia gives us the following: “it is the cause of dissolution of the marriage characterized by the rupture of the conjugal bond by virtue of a judicial decision, either at the joint request of both spouses or of only one, attending to the requirements established in the law ”.

Curiously, in Spain, since 2005 (Law 13/2005, July 1) it is no longer necessary for there to be a specific cause of divorce for the separation, it being enough that 3 months have passed since the celebration of the marriage to be able to put it on going. In any case, it is also conceived that the marriage union is legally broken before this time interval, especially in cases where the health and safety of one of the spouses (or children) is compromised.

These legislative amendments have opened a new door to the concept of “express divorce” , since the obligation for both spouses to be separated is abolished, shared custody of children is facilitated and the process is allowed to be carried out in an agile and simple way.

What are the types of divorce?

Talking about the types of divorce is a relatively complex issue, since each country and region is its own world at the legislative level. For this reason, we try to cover a series of terms applicable to almost all places, more at a contextual and explanatory level than a legal one. If you want to get divorced or are in the middle of the process, we always recommend that you go to a legal professional in your country. Once this distinction is made, we get to it.

1. Divorce by mutual consent

It is a relatively quick, simple and inexpensive process . Due to the agreement of both parties with the situation, the judicial process is simple and, therefore, it is enough with the presentation of the claim (and the agreement) and its subsequent ratification in the Court by both spouses.

Although both participants must present the divorce to the Court in writing, it does not have to be done at the same time in the same time interval. However, for the procedure to take place, the following requirements must be met:

  • 3 months or more have passed since the marriage was contracted (except for previously mentioned exceptions).
  • That both participants record their marital separation in the existing regulatory agreement. This legal document must be ratified by a judge.
  • That a regulatory agreement be drawn up specifying all the parameters related to the rupture: partition of assets, custody of children and more.

We remind that, for this procedure to be carried out, both spouses must ratify it . In addition, the divorce claim must be accompanied by the pertinent regulatory agreement where the established conditions are set (Custody, coexistence and pension regimes for children, for example), a previous marriage certificate and birth certificates of the offspring, in case that there is.

2. Administrative divorce

It is very similar to the classic divorce by mutual consent, but this time you do not have to go through a judicial procedure to carry it out . This type of separation is very fast and convenient, since it is enough to go to the civil registry where the marriage union was made to dissolve it. In any case, you can only resort to this legislative route with the following conditions:

  • That the spouses are of legal age (obviously).
  • That they have liquidated the conjugal partnership in their case. This means, broadly speaking, ending the financial relationship of marriage.
  • That the woman is not pregnant and that there are no children in common. If it is the last case, they must be, at least, of legal age.
  • That neither the children or neither of the spouses require alimony.

In some countries, the spouses are also required to have been married for at least a full year before beginning this process . As you can see, not all marriages meet this set of demanding requirements.

3. Contentious divorce

It occurs when only one of the two spouses wants to divorce . Here things get ugly at the legislative and emotional level, since the one who wishes to separate must present a contentious claim through the courts to his former partner.

As there is no mutual agreement between both parties, it is not possible to have a regulatory agreement, as it happens in divorce by mutual agreement. Thus, it will be the task of a judge to rule on the details of the situation in which the spouse remains. Unless the plaintiff withdraws from the lawsuit issued, the judge will declare the dissolution of the marriage (even if the defendant does not want to) and will find the same as guilty of giving rise to said divorce.

In other words: as one of the two people is sued and loses, in addition to the divorce, the defendant spouse must pay in favor of the other the legal expenses and costs , as well as receive the imposition of the penalties that mark the laws of the corresponding state as the case may be. It is a much slower and more expensive process than those previously mentioned, because after all one half of the marriage is clearly opposing its dissolution.

4. Uncaused divorce

It is a reform of the divorce law that allows the dissolution of the marriage without the need for a specific cause, as we have mentioned above. It is also known as “express divorce” , because, in this case, it is not necessary to argue reasons for the breakup and only one of the parties must agree to such separation.


As you may have seen, in many countries separating is no longer as difficult as it used to be. Without going any further, sometimes a cause is not necessary and not even go through the courts, depending on “how much” is at stake when breaking the marriage bond (children, material goods, pensions, etc.). Express divorces are the order of the day for the same reason: it is an unpleasant process for both parties and, therefore, in many cases it is in the interest of both spouses to expedite it as much as possible.

Without a doubt, the ugliest face of divorce is shown by the contentious variant . In this case, it is a true legal battle, where one of the parties actively opposes the end of the marriage and must be sued (literally). This is when things tend to get ugly on an emotional level for everyone involved, parents and children alike.