Family law involves very personal and emotional topics. There may not be another area of Ohio law that impacts a client’s daily life more than family law-related issues. People involved in family law disputes need both personal and professional support. They need calm and controlled decision making that serves both their short term and long-term interests.
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Types of Divorce Proceedings in Ohio
First, a decision must be made as to how you will go about ending the marriage. Who will file the papers with the court and are there a number of things on which both of you agree such as child custody and division of your property, or are there few? What do you plan to do with your home? How will you pay off any joint debts? Is someone going to receive spousal support?
If there are few decisions you agree on, you are probably going to be filing a lawsuit for a contested divorce. In the petition you file with the court, you must state “grounds” for the divorce. In Ohio, grounds for divorce are extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness, adultery, willful absence for more than one year, gross neglect of duty, bigamy, fraudulent marriage contract, incarceration and procurement of a divorce outside Ohio.
If you choose to seek a divorce, there are many related issues on which you may need some legal advice–mainly child support, child custody, spousal support, and property division. (See our Practice Area directory on the next page for more information about these topics and other family law subjects.)
If there are few or no areas of disagreement about how you will end your marriage, you could file a petition for dissolution. This is a “no-fault” or uncontested divorce. The judge does not make the decisions about termination of the marriage, the parties do.
Other options are to choose to seek a “mediated divorce” in which an experienced third party helps both parties work through their issues and brainstorm solutions to their problems. A mediator cannot make a legally-binding decision for the spouses. They make their own final agreement and ask the court to approve it.
Another choice is “collaborative divorce.” In this case, there are unsettled issues with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, but you agree before you start negotiating on the unresolved matters that your dispute will be settled without litigation. You can also file for a “legal separation” in which case you probably will no longer be living with your spouse but you will remain legally married to them until you file another action.
Slater & Zurz LLP law firm handles all of these types of divorce proceedings and will sit down with you and discuss which may be the best one in your case. Call us at 1-888-534-4850 for a free consultation.
How do I File for Divorce?
In Ohio, there is a residency requirement to file for a divorce. You must live in the state for six months leading up to the filing and live in the county where you currently reside for a minimum of 90 days. Your petition of divorce or dissolution should be filed with the Clerk of Courts in that county and you will be required to pay a filing fee, usually a few hundred dollars. You can apply for a waiver of this fee if your income is too low to afford it.
Your spouse will be served with divorce papers unless he or she chooses to waive service. They will have 28 days to “answer” or respond and may choose to “counterclaim” to your grounds or make an “admission.” Within a few months of the answer being received, a hearing is held and the couple’s assets and debts are disclosed to the court. It is then determined whether the case will be settled or be set for trial.
The results of a divorce case will have short-term and long-term consequences, but you can be assured it will likely be a life-altering experience for you and your children. Think about this when you begin to assess all of the unsettled issues between you and your former spouse. You can sometimes make modifications in a future divorce order, but this is not always an easy thing to do. The divorce attorneys at Slater & Zurz LLP law firm can assist you in finding a resolution now to a wide range of critical family-law related issues you are likely to encounter.
How Much is a Divorce Going to Cost?
This is a hard question to answer, but most divorce attorneys will tell you if you plan to fight your former spouse every step of the way, your divorce is going to cost you more time and more money.
For example, if your former partner committed adultery and you feel you would like to make them “pay,” you can use that as grounds for divorce and you might even get some financial justice if you can prove your ex-spouse took an expensive vacation with another person and used your joint savings account to fund the trip. In this case, the court may view it as equitable to return those funds to you in a final settlement.
However, for the most part, a divorce is not about punishing the other party for real or perceived transgressions. It is an attempt to leave the family as a whole as it can be, especially the children involved in the divorce.
You probably realize that there is a fee to file for divorce and that some counties require additional paperwork for child support, a list of assets and any amendments to your divorce petition. There are other expenses you should be aware of encountering. For example, the court may order counseling for you and your spouse and/or your children. If the court does not provide it, you and your ex-spouse will have to pay for it or find someone who accepts clients on a sliding fee basis. Your lawyer may charge an hourly rate or a flat fee which includes several services. You will want to find this out in your initial meeting.
Other things that may add to the cost of divorce are battles about:
- Child support, child custody or spousal support
- Division of property, hidden assets or disputes about separate property
- Division of debt
- Retirement benefits, pensions, health insurance
- Which person gets the house or whether it should be sold
Although it may feel good to take your emotions out on your former husband or wife, the longer the fighting goes on, the lighter your pocketbook could get. Everyone should realize no one really “wins” in a divorce. Only in situations where one party has considerable personal wealth do people walk away with more financially than they had when they came into the marriage. In most cases, both sides walk away with less.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO HIRING OUR FIRM?
- Slater & Zurz LLP attorneys have represented people in more than 30,000 cases throughout Akron, Cleveland, and Canton. This includes numerous family law cases. If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you. We have a track record of using our knowledge of the law and our many years of experience in the courtroom to help you when you need it most.
- We know how stressful a time this is for you and your family and that you may not have a bottomless pit of money. Our team is dedicated to trying to save you money where we can, but we will not shy away from confronting complex situations or pursuing litigation. We want to do whatever it takes to help make you feel good again.
- Another reason you should choose Slater & Zurz LLP is that they offer a free consultation to anyone with a family law legal issue. They do not rush you in and out of the office but allow you ample time to explain your problem so they can evaluate your case.
- The largest benefit is that we are focused on listening to you and communicating with you by keeping you informed about your case. We will fight for you and deliver for you.