Ending your relationship is never easy. Though you may feel divorce or dissolution of marriage are your only options, there is another way to live separate lives while still keeping your marriage legally intact.
Legal separation offers an alternative to divorce for couples who want to go their separate ways but wish to stay legally married. The experienced legal separation attorneys at Slater & Zurz are here to guide you through the process and help you secure an outcome aligned with your needs and goals. And should you ultimately decide to officially terminate your marriage, our legal team can also expertly assist you through the divorce process.
For help with a Cleveland legal separation, count on our skilled and dedicated team of family law attorneys to fight for your rights every step of the way.
Call (440) 557-2861 to speak to an experienced legal separation attorney in Cleveland for FREE.
Legal Separation, Dissolution, and Divorce in Ohio
Many couples wishing to end their marriage don’t realize there are several ways to do so. Under Ohio law, spouses who no longer want to remain in their relationship can seek a legal separation, dissolution, or divorce.
A legal separation is an option that allows couples to live apart but remain legally married. In the court-ordered agreement, couples can address the same issues as a divorce, such as a child support, spousal support, and asset division, but still keep their marriage intact.
Dissolution of Marriage
For couples who wish to end their marriage amicably, a dissolution of marriage is likely the best option. A dissolution is similar to a divorce but enables couples to reach their own agreement without needing a judge to intervene, generally making the process faster and cheaper than a divorce.
Like dissolution, a divorce allows spouses to end their marriage legally. Although dissolution and divorce have the same outcome, only divorce requires a judge’s input. Couples who disagree on one or more of the terms of their divorce will need to pursue a divorce and have the judge make the final determination.
Matters to Address During a Legal Separation
Although a legal separation doesn’t officially end your marriage, it does address the same matters resolved in a divorce. Whether you and your spouse come to an agreement on your own or need a judge to make the final decisions, the following matters will ultimately need to be determined:
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Asset division
- Debt division
To learn more about legal separation in Ohio, call Slater & Zurz today. (440) 557-2861
When Legal Separation May Be Your Best Option
When a couple is choosing whether to officially end their marriage through divorce or dissolution – or choosing an alternative, such as legal separation, they must consider several factors. Though the reasons for seeking a legal separation vary greatly, some more commonly cited reasons include:
- One or both spouses’ religious practices disapprove of divorce.
- The couple wants to stay married for the sake of their children.
- The couple wishes to retain the tax incentives associated with marriage.
- One or both spouses’ customs, traditions, or personal beliefs prevent them from legally ending their marriage.
- The couple wants to maintain health insurance or military benefits
- One or both parties wish to remain legally married to maintain or increase their retirement benefits.
- The couple needs to stay legally married to maintain their immigration status.
- The Ohio residency requirement of 6 months has not been met.
Grounds for Legal Separation
In Ohio, the process of becoming legally separated is very similar to the divorce process. The first step of the process is choosing grounds for your legal separation. Under Ohio Revised Code 3105.17, a spouse can cite any of the following reasons for their separation:
- Either party had another spouse at the time of the marriage
- The adverse party was willfully absent for one year or more
- Extreme cruelty
- Gross neglect of duty
- Fraudulent contract
- Habitual alcohol or drug problem
- State or federal imprisonment of the adverse party at the time of the complaint
- The parties lived separately for one year or more, without interruption
- Incompatibility, unless denied by the adverse party
The Legal Separation Process in Cleveland
Once the grounds or reason for the legal separation have been chosen, a spouse can file a complaint with the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court. After the action is filed, the other party will be served. Once served, they have the right to respond and ask for a divorce. If this is the case, the judge will consider it a divorce matter instead of a legal separation case.
Agreeing to the Terms of the Legal Separation
Should both parties agree to legally separate, creating a separation agreement begins. Both spouses must work together to agree to the terms of their separation, such as details regarding alimony, child support, and property division. If both parties agree on all matters, they can proceed to court.
However, if the couples cannot agree to all terms, they can try to agree to mediation. Mediation is when a neutral third party helps spouses work through the unresolved matters relating to their separation or divorce and reach an agreement. If the couple cannot agree, they will need to go to trial, where the judge will decide the unresolved issues on their behalf.
Going to Court
The final step of the legal separation process is the court hearing.
When a couple has agreed on all issues, the judge will ask both spouses if they wish to be legally separated and willfully agree to the terms. If each spouse answers yes to both questions, and the judge feels the agreement is fair, he or she will grant the couple a legal separation.
If a couple still has yet to agree on certain terms of their separation, the judge will ask both parties to explain their positions and ask any subsequent questions they have to understand the matter better. The judge will decide based on their statements, and any evidence presented.
In either scenario, the legal separation is final once the judge signs the judgment and the document is filed.
Top-rated Legal Separation Attorneys in Cleveland, Ohio
Whether you and your spouse are working together to come to a fair separation agreement or the process has become highly contentious, we recommend having the knowledge and expertise of an experienced legal separation lawyer on your side. Legal separations and divorces can quickly become challenging, but having the right family law attorney can ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and results in a fair and favorable resolution.
With over 100 years of collective experience, the Cleveland family law attorneys at Slater & Zurz have the skills and resources to effectively protect your rights and fight for the outcome that is in your and your children’s best interests. If you need legal assistance with a legal separation, dissolution, or divorce in Cleveland, our dedicated legal team is here to help. Contact us today to arrange your FREE, confidential consultation. During our initial meeting, we will discuss your situation, offer our expert advice, and develop the ideal course of action. You can reach us anytime, day or night, by calling (440) 557-2861 or contacting us online.