Although this seems like a simple question, unfortunately, there is no simple answer. There are many variables to be considered, from the time you begin the divorce process to the time the final order is signed. The biggest variables are:
- Where you file your divorce (in what Ohio county). Each county in Ohio has a different way of treating each divorce case, and in some courts, each judge does things differently.
- How much time do the parties and their divorce lawyers spend in pre-divorce activities (before or after the case is filed). This includes attempts at reconciliation, mediation, discovery, pretrial negotiation, etc.
- What kind of case you file depends on which “docket” (schedule) it will be assigned and the way it will move through the court system.
Three categories of divorce
Divorce cases usually fall into one of three categories:
- Contested Divorce
- Uncontested Divorce
There are different time variables with each.
This depends primarily on what is being contested. One party must file and present the grounds for the divorce in their initial complaint. The other party has 28 days to respond (answer) and counterclaim. The courts may force the parties into mediation if the dispute concerns child custody or visitation. If the contest is financial, it will take time to complete the pre-trial discovery process, where information can be sought about the parties’ assets, debt, and income.
The goal is to turn the contested divorce into an uncontested one through negotiation, but this takes time. A competent divorce lawyer always tries to avoid trial, but he or she is prepared for trial if there appears to be no other solution.
A contested divorce generally takes at least a year, often more if there are children and disagreements on numerous issues. The latter can precipitate a series of pre-trials and a trial which will take additional time and expense. In rare cases, this kind of divorce could take years.
In this type of divorce, both parties agree they want a divorce. Scheduling of this docket varies widely in Ohio—some move these cases quickly, and others require at least one pre-trial. If children are involved, the case may last longer, but the parties’ ability to reach an agreement generally helps things go faster overall.
In an Ohio dissolution, each party agrees on every aspect of the divorce ahead of time. If it turns out later, the agreements have to be renegotiated. It can take considerably longer before the dissolution petition is filed. A final hearing is scheduled between 30 and 90 days after the dissolution filing date. If everything is in order, the judge signs the divorce order, filed with the Clerk of Courts. The dissolution is completed. However, the divorce is not final until the judge has signed the agreement and the papers are filed with the Clerk.
When the petition for dissolution is filed, the parties must also attach a separation agreement.
When counting the amount of time needed to complete dissolution, one should also include the amount of time it will take to negotiate and write the separation agreement. Also, remember a judge can refuse to sign the agreement if he decides it is unfair to either party. This would delay the final hearing and the dissolution.
Your divorce attorney should be familiar with every judge and every court in your home county and be dedicated to finding the best solution for your domestic situation. An experienced dissolution of divorce will be able to advise you if a dissolution, uncontested, or contested divorce would work best for you. Getting a divorce is always a painful time in life, but having competent legal help can make things much easier.
A divorce lawyer in Canton, Ohio, at the law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP, will always work to find solutions to your legal problems. If a trial is needed, we have the trial experience it takes to prevail in divorce cases.