Akron Divorce Lawyer
Compassionate Representation for Divorce Proceedings
Deciding to end a marriage is never easy and not something that is usually arrived at overnight. Whether you have been thinking about it for months or years, the decision is often one of the most difficult ones that you may have to make. When you decide that it is time to move forward, you need comprehensive solutions that protect your rights, your family, and your future.
At Slater & Zurz, we offer compassionate, dedicated representation for men and women who are seeking a divorce in Akron, Ohio. Our knowledgeable legal team can help you understand the complex legal process and will provide focused advocacy for you and your family. Contact our office today at (330) 762-0700 to speak directly with an Akron divorce lawyer.
As with most other jurisdictions, Ohio has several conditions that a person must meet before they can legally file for divorce in the state. For instance, a person seeking a divorce must have a valid reason (grounds) for the divorce and have been a resident of the state for at least six months.
It is strongly recommended that you speak to an Akron divorce lawyer as early in the process as possible to ensure that you meet all statutory requirements. Divorce proceedings can be complicated, time-consuming, and overwhelming. A lawyer can help ensure that your best interests are represented throughout the process.
Ohio recognizes several legal grounds for a divorce. The person filing for the divorce must state the reason and be able to prove its validity if contested.
A court of common pleas may grant a divorce if:
- Spouses have lived separately and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for at least one year;
- Either party was already married to another person at the time of the marriage;
- Wilful absence of the other spouse for one year;
- Extreme cruelty;
- Fraudulent contract;
- Gross neglect of duty;
- Habitual drunkenness;
- Imprisonment of the other spouse at the time of the filing; or
- The other spouse has already secured a divorce by another jurisdiction.
In divorce proceedings, the person filing for the divorce must state the reason that they wish to legally terminate their marriage. The other spouse then has the opportunity to “answer” the complaint and either admit or deny the allegations, including the grounds listed for the divorce. They can then request that the divorce be dismissed or granted.
At every point in the process, you should have an experienced lawyer by your side. An Akron divorce lawyer can help guide you through the filings and help reach an amicable resolution as quickly as possible, saving you time and money.
In addition to establishing grounds for the divorce, a person must meet residency requirements. The state of Ohio sets its residency requirements by statute. A person must have been a resident of the state for at least six months immediately before filing for divorce. However, your spouse does not have to be a resident of the state in order for you to file a petition for divorce.
Divorce proceedings are filed and heard in the court of common pleas. Petitions for divorce must be brought at the court of common pleas in the proper county. Most counties have their own residency requirements in addition to the state guidelines. Generally, you must have lived within the county for 90-days prior to the filing of the divorce.
When both parties agree to the divorce and can arrive at fair terms in a separation agreement, a court of common pleas may grant a dissolution of marriage. A dissolution of marriage is Ohio’s version of a no-fault divorce, meaning that neither party must prove legal grounds for the marriage to be terminated. However, you or your spouse must still meet the six-month Ohio residency requirement to file for a dissolution of marriage in the state.
A dissolution of marriage is usually granted much faster than a divorce since the terms are already agreed to by each spouse. The petition is filed jointly by both spouses and must have a separation agreement signed and attached. The separation agreement will deal with all of the same issues addressed in divorce proceedings, including spousal support, child custody and support, and the distribution of assets and liabilities.
While a dissolution of marriage is often less contentious than a divorce, it is still strongly recommended that you seek the advice and counsel of an Akron divorce lawyer before filing.
When spouses do not agree to the divorce or the terms of the divorce, it is considered contested. A contested divorce generally takes longer to resolve compared to a dissolution of marriage or no-fault divorce.
If your spouse will not agree to a dissolution of marriage which is filed jointly, then you would need to file a complaint for divorce. In the complaint, you can request temporary orders for things like child custody and support. If your spouse does not respond within the statutory time period (fails to answer the complaint), the divorce is considered uncontested.
In most cases, however, a spouse will respond (answer) the complaint agreeing or disagreeing with the terms filed in the complaint, or will file a counterclaim. In any event, it is important to retain the counsel of an Akron contested divorce lawyer as early as possible.
Spouses may disagree about a few or all of the terms laid out in the “temporary orders” of the complaint. Because there are disputes about the divorce itself or the terms of the divorce, a contested divorce can take a year or more to complete.
Issues often determined in a contested divorce include:
- Child support and custody (parenting time)
- Spousal support
- Division of real property
- Distribution of assets and debts
- Settling of retirement benefits
- Discussion of tax implications
If your spouse will not cooperate with you at any point throughout the proceedings, you need to consider retaining a lawyer. It is generally in your best interest to speak to an Akron contested divorce lawyer before filing the complaint to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Ohio is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court of common pleas will always try to distribute marital property fairly between the spouses. A lawyer can help you understand your rights to the assets acquired during your marriage and protect the assets you owned prior to marriage.
An equitable distribution state, unlike a community property state, does not require that the court distribute marital property equally or 50/50 between the spouses. The court will determine what is equitable and may issue a distributive award to one spouse or the other.
When determining whether to make a distributive award in order to ensure the equitable division of marital property, a court may consider several factors.
Factors taken into consideration during property division include:
- The length of the marriage;
- The assets and liabilities of both parties;
- The desirability of awarding the family home (or the right to live for reasonable periods of time) to the parent with custody of the children;
- Liquidity of the property;
- The economic desirability of retaining any asset intact or the interest in an asset;
- Potential tax consequences;
- Costs of selling an asset;
- Property division outlined in a separation agreement between the spouses; and
- Retirement benefits.
Additionally, pursuant to Section 3105.171 of the Ohio Revised Code, the court may take into consideration any other factor that it finds “relevant and equitable.”
One of the most hotly contested issues in a divorce is often spousal support, previously referred to as alimony. Spousal support is awarded by a court of common pleas for the “sustenance” and “support” of the spouse or former spouse. It is separate from the equitable distribution of marital property.
The court may award reasonable spousal support to either party and may take into consideration the following factors when determining the amount:
- The income and relative earning abilities of the parties;
- The ages and education of both parties;
- The emotional, physical, and mental conditions of each spouse;
- Retirement benefits;
- The duration of the marriage;
- Whether a custodial parent could reasonably seek employment outside the home;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The assets and liabilities of each person;
- Any contribution to a spouse’s education, training, or earning ability; and
- Tax consequences for either party.
The court will also examine whether marital responsibilities resulted in “lost income production capacity” for either spouse. A court may issue temporary spousal support to either party during the proceedings. Whether you are seeking to obtain spousal support or modify court-ordered support, our Akron divorce lawyers can help. Call now to discuss your legal options.
The number one concern of any parent is the well-being of their child. In a divorce proceeding, the court will resolve issues related to child custody and support.
The court will make an order for the “disposition, care, and maintenance” of the child or children in accordance with what is in their best interest. The order will include child support payments calculated according to state guidelines and custodial rights. Today, Ohio courts favor a shared parenting plan which gives both parties parental rights.
Due to the sensitive nature of child support and custody matters, you should always consult with an Akron divorce lawyer before filing or responding to a complaint.
Whether you are seeking a divorce or filing for a dissolution of marriage, the lawyers at Slater & Zurz can help. The divorce process can take one year or longer to complete. It can be frustrating without a dedicated advocate to help you navigate the proceedings. We know that this may be a challenging time for you and your family, but we are here to fight to protect your assets and interests.
The decision to end your marriage is difficult, but our Akron divorce lawyers will work tirelessly to achieve a favorable disposition on your behalf. We are skilled negotiators, well-versed in even the most complex family law cases. Get the peace of mind you need and deserve.
In most divorces, a judge will honor a custody agreement decided upon by the parents. However, if the spouses can’t reach an agreement, the court will consider the following factors:
- The parent’s desire to have child custody
- The child’s preference
- The mental and physical health of the parents
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The child’s current personal and educational situation
If you are seeking to file a divorce in Akron, contact our office at (330) 762-0700 to schedule a free consultation. All case evaluations are completed at no cost and without obligation to retain our services. You should not have to go through this process alone. Our legal team is available 24/7 to discuss your case. Call now to get started.