Divorce legally ends a marriage. Issues regarding assets, debts and children are settled. You must file for divorce in the state where you or your spouse lives at the time. You can file in Ohio if you or your spouse have lived there for at least six months.
Going to court is time-consuming and expensive. It should be reserved as the last resort after you've attempted all other alternatives, such as mediation to reach an agreement with your spouse. In mediation, a third and unbiased party assists you in arriving at a resolution of your issues. Most cases are settled this way.
Divorce Without A Lawyer
You can get a divorce without a lawyer. Forms and advice are available online. However, divorce is hard emotionally and procedurally, and many documents and details are involved. A divorce lawyer can help in handling the process so you achieve the best outcome.
Grounds For Divorce in Ohio
Ohio does not require that both spouses to agree to a divorce. If you do agree, however, your divorce is uncontested and you can file for a dissolution of your marriage instead. This is a much simpler, streamlined process. If your divorce is contested, you must have grounds or a reason for divorce. Ohio recognizes ten grounds in addition to the no-fault grounds for dissolution:
- An out-of-state divorce
- Imprisonment in a state or federal prison
- Extreme cruelty
- Fraudulent contract
- Habitual drunkenness
- Living separately for at least one year
- Grossly negligence in duties
Contested divorces are more complicated. Court time, lawyer's fees and other associated fees are time-consuming and expensive.
The Steps To Divorce
Divorce requires meeting a state's residency requirements. You must have lived in Ohio for six months before you can file. Most divorces then follow a similar procedure:
- The divorce starts when the complaint is file.
- The defendant responds to the complaint.
- Written disclosures of personal financial details are exchanged.
- Custody and a parenting plan are decided upon.
- A judge hears evidence and deliberates.
- A decision, called a decree, is rendered, and the divorce is official.
The divorce process cannot begin until 30 days after the complaint is filed, and the case itself must be heard within 90 days of filing. During this waiting period, the court may order conciliatory procedures such as counseling. If a judge orders counseling, it must be completed before a divorce can be granted.
Your attorney may need to file requests for "pendente lite" or pretrial orders while you divorce is pending. These temporary orders can help decide issues that come up during the divorce process, such as visitation schedules and responsibility for paying bills.
Distribution of Property
Property and debts incurred during the marriage are distributed equitably, which is not always equally. Gifts outside of the marriage, such as by inheritance, or property acquired before the marriage remain that spouse's individual property. Periodic or lump sum alimony may be awarded based on need.
Child Custody Agreement
If you have children, you must agree to a parenting plan that outlines custody, visitation and the child's care after divorce. Custody is typically shared. If you cannot agree upon child custody, a trial must take place. The child's wishes may be taken into account. Legal custody refers to legal decisions that are made in the child's best interests. Physical custody refers to where the child legally resides.
Finding an Ohio Divorce Lawyer
This information is not a substitute for legal advice. Divorce is complicated and the laws are always changing. In any divorce, and particularly if you require court orders or support and custody are an issue, seek the help of a divorce lawyer.