Spouses who have decided to go their separate ways have several options to legally end their marriage in the state of Ohio. Depending on their specific circumstances, they may choose to pursue a divorce or a dissolution.
If you and your spouse have recently decided to part ways, it is essential to understand the difference between divorce and dissolution of marriage so you can choose the method that is right for both you and your family. Below, we will discuss what divorce and dissolution are, how the two processes differ, and the pros and cons of each.
Ending a marriage, especially when kids are involved, can be an extremely difficult, even devastating, process. Having an experienced divorce attorney on your side can give you peace of mind, knowing your best interests, as well as your children’s, will be diligently protected. Our skilled team of family law attorneys at Slater & Zurz LLP is available to ensure the process of ending your marriage is as streamlined and amicable as possible. To learn more about divorce and dissolution in Ohio, we welcome you to contact our office for a FREE consultation by calling 888.534.4850 or contacting us online.
Divorce refers to the method of legally ending a marriage that enlists the help of the court. Couples choose divorce when there are one or more disputes in resolving the aspects relating to terminating a marriage. Conflict can arise in issues ranging from the division of assets and liabilities to child custody and support matters.
Ohio law allows for both fault and no-fault divorces. Most couples choose a no-fault divorce because it doesn’t assign blame or reveal embarrassing personal issues. In a no-fault divorce, couples can cite the grounds for divorce as either:
- Incompatibility (if not denied by either party)
- Living separately for one year or more (without cohabitation or interruption)
In a fault-based divorce in Ohio, you must establish grounds for the divorce. In Ohio, accepted grounds include:
- Being married to someone else at the same time
- Willful abandonment of the marriage for one year
- Extreme cruelty
- Fraud misrepresentation by the adverse party
- Gross neglect of marital duties
- Alcohol or drug addiction
- The adverse party obtained a divorce in another state.
It is important to note that the party citing any of the above grounds will need to prove them in a fault-based divorce. This includes presenting evidence and witness testimony in court.
What to Expect During the Divorce Process in Ohio
A divorce begins when one party files a Complaint for Divorce and other required forms with the Clerk of Court or Domestic Relations Court. After the complaint is filed, the other spouse will be “served” or notified of the impending divorce.
Because the divorce process can be lengthy, parties can ask for temporary orders. These address matters, such as child custody and visitation arrangements, child support, and alimony until the divorce is final and the final orders are in place.
The process of “discovery” is the fact-finding process that takes place during a divorce. It begins when both parties request and provide information to one another. This can include financial documents, answers to interrogatories (written questions), and depositions (testimony under oath.)
Mediation may be ordered by the court or mutually agreed upon by the divorcing spouses. During mediation, a neutral third party helps the parties resolve their areas of conflict. Mediators do not make determinations. They solely facilitate agreements between the two spouses.
Parties will need to attend several hearings during the divorce process, beginning with the “pre-trial hearing.” During this hearing, spouses will discuss the areas they agree on and any areas that remain unresolved with the judge. If there is an agreement in all areas, the parties may be able to finalize their divorce right away. If there are aspects of the divorce that are still being disputed, the parties will likely need to attend additional hearings.
If the spouses reach a standstill and cannot resolve one or more issues relating to the divorce, the courts will make the final decision on those matters. The judge will carefully review the issues and make a decision that is fair and equitable. Once a final determination is made, the judge will sign and file a judgment entry for divorce, and the divorce will become final.
The Advantages of Divorce
Choosing to pursue a divorce to legally end your marriage has its advantages. The pros of divorce are:
- The courts will help you and your spouse resolve disputed matters.
- Temporary orders can provide a way to address issues before formal resolutions are agreed upon.
- If you believe your spouse is not disclosing all of his or her assets, the discovery process can help uncover them.
The Disadvantages of Divorce
Although divorces afford some advantages, they also have their drawbacks. The cons to divorce include:
- A divorce can be an extremely long process.
- When a divorce takes a long time to finalize, it can also become costly for both sides. Legal fees, court costs, mediation expenses, and the costs of expert testimony can be substantial.
- Divorces can be time-consuming. Depending on the amount of conflict and length of the process, divorces can take a lot of time. Phone calls and meetings with your attorney, gathering necessary information during the discovery process, attending mediation, and participating in court hearings can take a substantial amount of time away from your children and your work.
Dissolution of Marriage
A dissolution is an alternative to divorce where both parties mutually agree to terminate their marriage and are in agreement on all of the matters relating to the ending of that marriage. Dissolution is generally a quicker and easier way to end a marriage legally.
In dissolution, only the spouses make the decisions, not the court. Issues that need to be resolved include:
- Division of assets and debts
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Child custody
- Parenting time
- Child support
The Dissolution of Marriage Process
A dissolution of marriage can begin when both parties agree on all of the issues involved in ending their marriage. Once both parties are in agreement and have created and signed their separation agreement and a parenting plan (if they have minor children together), they can fill out a “Petition for Dissolution.” The separation agreement and petition, along with other necessary documentation, can then be filed with the Clerk of Court.
After filing the petition, the court will set a hearing date somewhere within 30 to 90 days of the filing date. During the hearing, both spouses must be present to assure the judge they willfully entered into the agreement and are satisfied with its terms. The judge will review the separation agreement and parenting plan and likely ask both spouses a few additional questions.
If the judge feels the agreement is fair and equitable, the court will grant the dissolution and make the separation agreement and parenting plan an order of the court. It is at this point that the marriage is then legally terminated.
The Advantages of a Dissolution of Marriage
Couples may choose dissolution for several reasons. Advantages to pursuing dissolution of marriage include:
- Only you and your spouse make the decisions relating to the termination of your marriage.
- Dissolutions often maintain an amicable relationship and healthy communication even after your marriage has legally ended.
- Because you avoid much of the divorce process, a dissolution takes much less time.
- Since the process is shorter and doesn’t require extensive mediation and litigation, the process can be much less expensive.
The Disadvantages of a Dissolution of Marriage
There are a few disadvantages to choosing a dissolution of marriage over a divorce. However, there are a few potential cons, such as:
- You can’t ask the court for a temporary order if you and your spouse aren’t agreeing during the process on issues such as temporary parenting time and spousal and child support.
- Because there is no “discovery” in a dissolution, it is much harder to uncover assets that your spouse may be hiding.
Ohio Counties We Serve
For over 30 years, we have helped couples resolve family law-related matters, such as divorce, dissolution of marriage, and legal separation. Our Ohio law firm handles cases across the state, including those in:
- Ashland County
- Carroll County
- Columbiana County
- Cuyahoga County
- Geauga County
- Hancock County
- Knox County
- Noble County
- Holmes County
- Lake County
- Mahoning County
- Medina County
- Portage County
- Harrison County
- Coshocton County
- Belmont County
- Muskingum County
- Richland County
- Stark County
- Summit County
- Trumbull County
- Tuscarawas County
- Wayne County
Our Ohio Divorce Attorneys Can Help
Whether you and your spouse choose to divorce or dissolution of marriage or remain undecided as to which route to take, the advice of an experienced and compassionate attorney can help. Our qualified Ohio divorce attorneys will attentively listen to your situation, explain your legal options in more detail, and provide honest and invaluable feedback as to whether divorce or dissolution of marriage may be the best option for you and your family.
If you and your spouse are contemplating divorce or have already decided to end your marriage, we invite you to contact our divorce lawyers for a free, confidential consultation. We understand the decision to end a marriage and how to go about it can drastically affect your and your family’s lives. We are here to guide you through the process and work diligently to resolve the matter amicably and fairly while keeping your and your children’s best interests in mind. Call us today at 888.534.4850 or contact us online.