A divorce is a contested lawsuit. It is the termination of the marital relationship granted by a finding of the court that certain statutory “grounds” exist to end the marriage. In Ohio, those grounds are extreme cruelty, willful absence for more than one year, adultery, habitual drunkenness, gross neglect of duty, bigamy, fraudulent inducement to marriage, incarceration of one spouse in a state or federal institution and procurement of a divorce outside the state.
The spouse who files for divorce files “a complaint” against the other spouse with the Domestic Relations Court and presents the grounds for the divorce. The other party has 28 days to answer and counterclaim or enter an admission. If he or she does not respond to the complaint in time, that party could forfeit his or her right to do so.
The goal is to turn a contested divorce into an uncontested one but this does not always happen. As a result, there is litigation in the form of discovery, hearings and sometimes a trial. This usually takes at least a year—more if there are disagreements on major issues about such things as child support, child custody, property division and spousal support.
Although it may initially appear everything has been equitably decided in advance, when a couple starts delving deeper into division of property, debt accrued, child custody arrangements and child or spousal support, they could change their minds about whether everything is resolved and what started out as a dissolution could become a divorce.
If the opposing party files an answer to a divorce complaint, the case is considered contested and a “status conference” is set within four months from the date the opposing party filed an answer. At the “status conference,” normally attended by attorneys, a multitude of paperwork (discovery documents) is presented including affidavits of the assets and liabilities of the parties.
Spouses can resolve their differences through written agreement at any time in the divorce process and the court will issue a divorce decree making the agreements legally-binding orders. The parties can also request that the case goes before the court in a divorce trial. At trial, attorneys present their client’s cases and any related evidence. The court will then make a judgment.
Residency Requirement in Ohio
There is a six-month residency requirement to file for a divorce in Ohio. You must file in the county where you reside and should check with the Clerk of Courts in that county concerning fees that must be paid and other mandatory programs divorcing couples must participate in, especially if there are minor children of the marriage. Some counties offer fee waivers to those whose household income is too low for them to afford court costs. Check with the Clerk if you think may be eligible for any cost-reduction programs.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
This primarily depends on how many issues are in dispute between spouses and how far away the couple is from agreement on what divides them. If there are many issues and the divorcing partners are not close to an agreement, the divorce will likely cost more money and take more time as each party attempts to “win” the case. Thus, if the divorce is very contentious, it could be a year or more until the court issues a final order of divorce.
Do I Need An Attorney During a Divorce?
There are many reasons to be represented by a lawyer when you are going through a divorce.
Many decisions may be made which will affect your life for years to come. They are decisions about spending time with your children and decisions about your property and finances. Do not be so eager to leave the marriage that you are not paying attention to important matters. Your attorney will help you stay focused on how you want your issues resolved.
Many divorcing couples are unable to communicate in a constructive way. A lawyer can make it easier to deal with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and possibly even settle your case instead of going to trial which should cost you less in the long run and be less stressful.
An attorney will advise you about things you should or should not do while your case is pending. For example, many involved in a divorce have made inappropriate Facebook posts or Twitter comments that had a negative impact on them personally or financially, or both. It is usually quite difficult to hide this type of error once it has been made and an opposing attorney is likely to spot these gaffes. Remember judges have significant discretion when making decisions on spousal support, child custody, and child support and you want to be seen in the strongest light possible in court.
The attorneys at Slater & Zurz LLP realize that divorce is a highly complex matter and a difficult time emotionally for most people. They understand the process and they know how important it is to protect your legal interests. Please contact them at 1-888-534-4850 to learn more about how they can help you. You can also contact the law firm through its website, slaterzurz.com, or through its 24/7/365 ”chat” service.