Divorce FAQ

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The information below is general and based upon current Ohio law. If you wish to learn how the laws apply to your situation and what will happen in your case contact us for a free case evaluation.

What is a divorce?
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A divorce is essentially a lawsuit filed against your spouse demanding an end to the marriage and asking the court to divide your assets and debts. If there are children involved, the court further has the authority to issue orders defining each parent’s rights, both during the divorce and after. The law suit proceeds just as any other and may include discovery, settlement negotiations, contested hearings and in some cases even a trial.

Divorce is not the only way to end a marriage and sometimes not the best. An experienced divorce attorney can explain your options and what may be best in your case.

What are the grounds for divorce?

Ohio is a no fault divorce state, meaning you can get a divorce on grounds that do not require someone to be at fault. These include the husband and wife living separately for a year and “incompatibility.” Grounds requiring a party show there is some fault include:

  • Extreme cruelty
  • Gross neglect of duty
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Adultery
  • Incarceration of the party who the divorce is being filed against
  • Willful Absence of the other party for one year
  • The other party was already married (also grounds for annulment)
  • fraud

What is Dissolution?

A dissolution is an agreement between husband and wife to end a marriage. The parties must agree on the following:

  • that they both wish to end the marriage;
  • how to divide up their assets and debts;
  • if there are children, how they will take responsibility for caring for them after the marriage ends;
  • finally they must cooperate with one another in reaching the agreement, filling out paperwork and appearing together in court.

A key factor in reaching an agreement is to be informed and educated as to what your rights are. Our office offers a free case evaluation that will cover what your rights are, in order to give you the ability to make an informed decision about what is a fair agreement. Call us before you reach an agreement or sign any documents.

What is the difference between a divorce and a dissolution?

A divorce is a law suit in which each party contests all factors relating to the ending of their marriage (custody, support, asset division etc.). Generally a divorce will end with an agreement reached by the parties as to all aspects of their divorce. A dissolution begins the way most divorces end, i.e. with an agreement up front. A dissolution takes much less time, is less stressful and can cost substantially less than a divorce. For these reasons a dissolution may be the preferred way to go.

What is an annulment?

An annulment is a legal action which asks the court to find that your marriage is void from the beginning. Grounds can include things like one party was already married at the time of the marriage, one party was not of legal age to marry, etc. If the court grants the annulment it is as if the marriage never existed.

What is a legal separation?

A legal separation is very close to a divorce. One party sues the other for separation and asks the court to divide all marital property. The court may make orders dividing all assets and debts and even allocating the rights of the parties to their children.

The one big difference is that in the end the parties will not be divorced. A legal separation does not end the marriage and if the parties wish latter to end the marriage they must file a divorce or dissolution. Because of this a legal separation may only be appropriate in certain circumstances and can add to the overall cost of ending a marriage.

How long will it take?

Cooperation of the parties and the number of items in dispute are key factors in determining the total length of proceedings.

  • Dissolutions and non-contested actions: A dissolution or non-contested divorce proceedings will generally end within 90 days of the initial filings.
  • Divorce: The time it takes for a full divorce proceeding to end depends entirely on the nature of the dispute. Asset/Debt only disputes generally will resolve within 4 to 6 months. Custody disputes can take more than six months to resolve.

How long do you need to live in Ohio to divorce here?

You must be a resident of Ohio for 6 months before filing a divorce. You may file a legal separation before that. “Residency” has a legal definition and may or may not include more than physical presence.

Do I need an attorney?

There are literally hundreds of websites devoted to “do it yourself” divorces. Most of those want to sell you “the forms.” As with any legal action you are not required to have an attorney, but remember the old adage, “the person who represents himself has a fool for an lawyer.” The truth is even in situations where the parties are in basic agreement it is still wise to consult with a professional who is familiar with the specific court in which the action will take place and keeps abreast of current laws. Choosing to have professional representation will save time, frustration and ensure that things are done right and your rights are protected.

Can I stop the divorce?

Sadly, the short answer to this question is no. If one spouse is determined to terminate the marriage then ultimately they will prevail. However, there are a number of legal actions that can be taken to slow the process and give you time to attempt to reconcile your differences.

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