Divorcing in Ohio can be a complicated process, and any spouse may have questions. Here are your answers to Ohio Divorce FAQs.

What are the alternatives to divorce in Ohio?

Married couples have two alternatives to divorce in Ohio: legal separation and dissolution of marriage. A legal separation does not legally end a marriage. However, couples can divide up property, parental rights, and spousal support while still receiving the benefits of a married couple, like tax and Social Security benefits.

A dissolution of marriage, or a no-fault divorce, is an agreement between two spouses to end their marriage without proving specific grounds for separation. A married couple must sign a separation agreement before dissolving the marriage.

How is divorce different from legal separation or dissolution of marriage?

Divorce in Ohio is a civil lawsuit to end a marriage. In an Ohio divorce, the court makes decisions regarding separation, child support, and property division. Unlike legal separation, divorce legally ends a marriage through Ohio. Unlike a dissolution of marriage, a spouse must have grounds for divorce, and a court makes decisions regarding separation rather than a separation agreement.

Related: Legal Separation in Ohio: The Basics

What is an annulment?

An annulment dissipates a marriage and declares it never legal in the first place. To obtain an annulment, one must file a Complaint about Annulment on specific grounds.

How do I file for divorce in Ohio?

The first step for an Ohio divorce is filing a complaint. The spouse who files with the court clerk is the “plaintiff” throughout the divorce process, while the other spouse is the “defendant.” The plaintiff must include statutory grounds for divorce in their complaint.

What are the statutory grounds for divorce in Ohio?

Statutory grounds for divorce are the legal reasons a spouse wants to obtain a divorce. If a spouse pursues a fault-based divorce, they must prove one of the following grounds of their spouse:

  1. Willful absence for more than one year
  2. Habitual drunkenness
  3. Gross neglect
  4. Imprisonment
  5. Extreme cruelty
  6. Adultery
  7. Fraudulent inducement to marry

Related: Ohio Divorce Laws: The Basics

What is serving divorce papers, and how do I do it?

Serving divorce papers is the formal process of notifying your spouse of your intention to divorce via necessary paperwork. The plaintiff cannot serve the divorce papers yourself. The court clerk will serve your spouse, the defendant, and the divorce papers, including a copy of your complaint and a summons.

How can I serve the divorce papers if my spouse’s location is unknown?

If the court clerk cannot locate your spouse, they will post a legal notice in the newspaper. Your spouse will have 28 days to file an answer to the complaint and summons.

What is a divorce decree?

A divorce decree is a document both spouses sign outlining the terms of a divorce. If spouses can settle their divorce by agreeing on the terms, they can propose a signed divorce decree to a court for approval. Once the judge approves the decree, the decree becomes a court order.

What happens if two spouses cannot agree on their terms for divorce?

If two spouses cannot agree on their divorce terms, they can pursue mediation or go to court and have a judge decide for them.

How can mediation be used in the divorce process?

Couples who cannot agree on certain divorce terms yet want to avoid court can pursue mediation. In mediation, a mediator can use strategies and techniques to help a couple settle contested divorce terms.

How does Ohio divide types of property in a divorce?

A court considers two types of property in an Ohio divorce: marital property and separate property. Marital property is property spouses acquire during their marriage, ranging from real estate to intangibles, such as stock. Separate property is property spouses receive before marriage or a spouse acquires without assistance from their spouse, including property from inheritance or awards for personal injury.

How does an Ohio court divide marital property and separate property in a divorce?

Spouses will split marital property evenly unless a court determines this is unfair. Spouses usually retain their separate property through a divorce unless a court deems distributing it leads to a fairer result. For example, if one spouse engages in financial misconduct during the marriage, their separate property may go to the other spouse in a divorce.

What is spousal support?

Spousal support (originally called alimony) is a payment from one ex-spouse to another following a divorce. A spouse might qualify to receive spousal support from an ex-spouse if they relied significantly on their ex-spouse throughout their marriage.

How does a court determine spousal support?

In Ohio, the court considers 13 specific factors to determine spousal support arrangements, including each spouse’s age, earnings, and health.

How does the court determine child custody in an Ohio divorce?

Ohio courts must consider the child’s best interests when determining child support. Parents may submit a parenting plan to the court that a judge may approve or amend to award shared parenting. If parents do not submit a parenting plan to the court, the judge will give one parent primary physical and legal custody while granting parenting time rights to the other.

How does the court determine child support in an Ohio divorce?

Courts must follow Ohio child support guidelines to determine child support. The courts’ main factor in calculating child support amounts is parental income, which factors into a few other calculations to determine the right amount.

Can the same attorney represent my spouse and I in an Ohio divorce?

While legal, having the same attorney as your spouse may be controversial and add avoidable drama to the divorce process.

Is there a waiting period to file for divorce in Ohio?

Yes, both spouses must live in Ohio for at least six months to pursue a fault-based divorce. However, if a spouse seeks a no-fault divorce, only one of the spouses must live in Ohio for at least six months.

If I am discontent with my divorce outcome, is there anything I can do?

Yes, you may file an appeal for your divorce in Ohio. However, you must do so immediately following the end of the divorce process.

Are divorces expensive in Ohio?

The price of an Ohio divorce can vary by type. The largest costs are often legal and attorney’s fees.

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