If you’re thinking about ending your marriage, your options are divorce, dissolution, or legal separation.
- Fault-based divorce can be based on any of a number of grounds, including extreme cruelty, adultery, bigamy, or other misconduct. If you file a fault-based divorce, you will have to prove that your spouse committed the conduct on which you based the divorce. Proving fault can add to the cost of the divorce, lengthen the time it takes to complete the process, and may increase the bitterness between spouses as contentious issues are rehashed during the court proceedings. Now that Ohio permits no-fault divorces, fault-based divorce has become increasingly unpopular.
- No-fault divorce can be based on incompatibility rather than the fault of your spouse. You may also file a no-fault divorce if you have lived apart from your spouse for at least a year. The terms of a no-fault divorce can be settled by agreement, or determined in a contested court proceeding.
- Collaborative divorce, officially termed “collaborative family law process,” is a process in which both spouses and their attorneys enter a written commitment to negotiate a settlement without litigation. You and your spouse must voluntarily disclose factual information, and assess your available options to achieve a satisfactory resolution. Either you or your spouse may terminate a collaborative divorce at any time. One advantage of collaborative divorce is that most communications are confidential, so private matters are kept private. A collaborative divorce is concluded when both spouses reach and sign a written agreement. Court approval of the signed document is not required.
- Dissolution is a less expensive, expedited process that is appropriate when both spouses agree on all the terms of the divorce, including child custody, child and spousal support, and the division of property.
- Legal separation is just that: a legally recognized separation that does not terminate the marriage. The benefits of legal separation include enabling one spouse to qualify for coverage under the other spouse’s medical insurance, or to qualify for pension or retirement benefits through the other’s employer or work record. Legal separation may also allow both spouses time to work out the terms of an intended future divorce.
The process for concluding a contested divorce is negotiation, litigation, or mediation within the context of litigation.
The procedure for resolving dissolutions and collaborative divorces generally involves negotiations between the spouses and their attorneys. Contested divorces can be resolved through litigation, which can be concluded through mediation, by settlement, or by a court decision following the presentation of evidence to a magistrate or judge.
- Mediation may be an effective way to resolve a divorce when both spouses can’t agree on the terms, such as child custody or support. An independent, third-party mediator—typically an attorney with experience handling and mediating family law cases—will help you and your spouse arrive at workable solutions to the issues on which you disagree. In attempting mediation, you should be represented by an experienced attorney who is familiar with your case and the law, and whose duty it is to represent your interests. The mediator cannot make a binding decision. If the mediation is successful, a proposed decree containing the agreed-upon terms can be submitted to the judge for approval. If the mediation fails, you may be left with no alternative but litigation.
- Litigation may be the only means of terminating your marriage if you and your spouse are unable to resolve all issues. Any unresolved issues can be taken to trial before a judge or magistrate. The litigation can be limited to areas upon which you and your spouse can’t agree. Experienced counsel may be able to assist you in resolving at least some issues before a final hearing, and in limiting or
eliminating the issues to be determined by the court. The more accomplished your attorney is, the greater the likelihood that he or she can sway your spouse to accept terms important to you while minimizing any problematic trade-offs in exchange for those terms.
At Slater & Zurz, we handle all types of divorce and dissolution cases. We can help you decide which option is right for you, and guide you through the process one step at a time. We understand that breaking up a marriage, with or without children, is an emotional and often wrenching experience. When questions or concerns arise, we’ll be there for you. Call or email our family law team to schedule a free consultation. We’ll answer your questions and, perhaps more importantly, we’ll listen to you. Our goal is to provide experienced and personalized assistance tailored to meet your needs and help you accomplish your objectives.
It’s your attorney’s job to comply with all legal technicalities.
Every legal action is subject to legal technicalities. To file a divorce or dissolution in Ohio, you must have lived in the state for at least six months, and in the county where the case is filed for 90 days. Although divorce and dissolution are governed by federal and state law, different counties have different filing requirements and procedural rules. You should be able to rely on your attorney to comply with all federal, state, and local laws in your county. As you confront the break-up of your family, you don’t need to worry about how many copies of which form to file.
The cost of your divorce will depend on multiple factors.
- Filing fees. Filing fees vary from one county to another, and include the initial cost to initiate the proceeding, and costs to file additional documents required in your case. The initial filing fee may vary depending on the type of case you choose to file.
- The type of divorce. A dissolution in which both spouses agree on all issues such as child custody, support, and the division of property will cost significantly less than contested litigation in which those issues must be tried before a court. If you elect to file a fault-based divorce, proving fault may involve substantial cost unless the evidence of fault is clear, uncontroverted, and readily available.
- Expert fees. If your case involves appraisals of high-value assets, the valuation of a business, psychological or other assessments of minor children, or other determinations that require a qualified expert’s evaluation, the cost of your divorce may include the expert’s fees.
- The issues in dispute. The cost of a divorce will increase when child custody, child support, spousal support, business ownership, and/or the division of high-value assets can’t be agreed upon and must be litigated. You can reduce the cost if you can agree on any of these issues.
- Attorneys’ fees. Family law attorneys may charge either an hourly fee or a flat fee for their services. Typically, a family law attorney who charges an hourly fee will ask for a retainer—an up-front payment that will be held in trust, from which the attorney will withdraw fees as they are earned. After the representation is concluded, any unearned fees are returned to the client; if the retainer is depleted before the case is over, the client may be asked to advance additional funds to cover the attorney’s services.
At Slater & Zurz, we will discuss the fees for our services during a free consultation, based on the type of divorce or dissolution you choose to pursue, the issues in your case, and our assessment of what will be involved. Throughout your case, we will strive to continuously earn and maintain your trust by treating you with the respect you deserve, by keeping you informed about all developments, and by fairly and meticulously accounting for all fees we charge.