The first step in the divorce process is to file a divorce complaint with the court. In Ohio, it is called filing a formal complaint against the other party. You could also file a petition for dissolution of the marriage which means there are few or no issues left to resolve between you and your spouse and things may progress rather quickly.
With a complaint you must allege grounds for the divorce. These include: bigamy, adultery, extreme cruelty, fraudulent contract, gross neglect of duty, habitual drunkenness, imprisonment of one spouse, willful absence from the marriage for one year, and either spouse receiving a divorce outside of the state of Ohio.
The non-filing spouse can waive service of the complaint and let the court issue a default divorce decree. This means the divorce has proceeded without that person’s participation. In this case, the court will make decisions about property division, child custody, visitation, spousal support, and all other divorce issues. These decisions will be largely based upon the requests made in the petition for divorce. The non-filing spouse can also have his or her attorney accept the documents and sign a waiver so a process server will not have to formally serve papers.
If the opposing party files an answer to the 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) will be presented including affidavits of the assets and liabilities of the parties.
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.
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 agreement a legally-binding order. 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.
If circumstances change and the original divorce order is no longer suitable, a new order can be requested by filing a post-judgment modification. The court may choose to grant a modification to child custody or visitation, child support or spousal support because of circumstances like a loss of job, a serious illness, or changes in a child’s needs. This may not guarantee you will be granted the modification, but you have the right to seek one.
How long will it take to get a divorce?
This is a hard question to answer as it largely depends on how many issues are in dispute between spouses and how far away the couple is from the agreement. 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 the divorce process. 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 these important matters. Your attorney can help keep you focused on them.
Many divorcing couples are unable to communicate in a constructive way. A lawyer can make it easier for you 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 ultimately be less stressful.
An attorney will advise you about things you should or should not do while your case is pending. For example, many divorcees have made inappropriate Facebook posts or Twitter comments that had a negative impact on them personally or financially, or both. It is usually quite easy for the opposing attorney to find these social media 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.
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. Perhaps, the situation is not as dire as it seems and you may be able to reach a settlement with your former partner. You can contact the law firm through its website, slaterzurz.com, or through its 24/7/365 ”chat” service.