How to File for Divorce in Ohio

filing for divorce in Ohio

If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Ohio, you should begin by familiarizing yourself with this basic outline of the procedure.  

Dissolution or divorce?

Ohio has two different ways to end a marriage.  One is a no-fault proceeding called a “dissolution of marriage.”  In essence, the couple is jointly asking the court to end their marriage.  When you file for a dissolution, you must have already completed a separation agreement and shared parenting plan.  

The separation agreement requires the couple to resolve all their issues related to dividing their property.  They must confirm they have disclosed all their marital property and debts and agreed on how to split them.  

They also agree to stay out of each other’s lives and not embarrass or hinder each other in any way.  Getting to an agreement is not always easy. A couple can spend weeks or months negotiating through lawyers or mediators before coming to an agreement.  Other couples can just split their bank account in half.

Ohio also still has “fault” divorce grounds.  These include bigamy, willful absence of a year, adultery, extreme cruelty, fraud, gross neglect of duty, habitual drunkenness, or imprisonment.  

There are also no-fault divorce grounds, including incompatibility and living separately for one year. In a divorce, the spouse is essentially asking the court to end the marriage by proving one of the grounds for divorce exists.   

Establish residency

One of the spouses must be a resident of Ohio for at least six months immediately before filing a petition for dissolution or divorce.  

The process in court

Divorce process in court

The divorce process can be rather complex.  

First, one spouse must file a complaint seeking a divorce. The spouse filing the complaint is the “plaintiff.” The complaint must include an explanation of any children that will be involved in the divorce.

It must also have an explanation of all known income, expenses, and property. Health insurance must also be addressed. The plaintiff may also seek temporary orders like emergency child support while the divorce process is underway.  

The other spouse called the “defendant,” will need to file very similar papers in response.  They also need to provide information on property, income, and expenses. The couple will then generally move into a process called discovery, where each one can request information from the other.

Both spouses have equal information about the situation

This is an opportunity to ensure that both spouses have equal information about the situation.  Once each side has the information they want, there is usually a renewed effort to settle, in place of both parties wanting to file a divorce in Ohio.  

If the couple cannot come to an agreement then they will take their issues to a trial.  Each side will present documents and witnesses to make their argument for how much money they have and how it should be divided, along with how the child custody should be set up and if one parent needs to pay child support to the other.

The judge will hear the evidence and arguments from each side and then render a verdict.

Ohio also has a process called “conciliation.”  While the divorce process is underway, the court can order the parties to go through an up to 90-day conciliation process to try and save their marriage.  

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