When couples decide that their marriage has run its course and cannot be salvaged, they must prepare themselves and their family for some major life changes. Ending a marriage does not only mean physical separation and the ability to remarry. Spouses will also need to determine who gets the house and how to divide other assets. If one party was dependent on the other for financial security, they’ll likely have to negotiate alimony. Families with children will need to make custody decisions, like where the children will live, come up with a parenting schedule, and calculate child support payments.
An unfortunate reality is couples will need to do all of this through a legal process that can be confusing and convoluted. However, that’s where we come in. At Chris Smith Law, our divorce lawyer has been practicing in Ohio for over 15 years and knows the ins and outs of the state’s legal system. Attorney Smith will guide you through the legal process and personally work with you to determine how the local divorce laws apply to your unique situation.
Get in touch with us today by calling (614) 412-4442 or completing our contact form.
Ohio’s Divorce Laws and Dissolution of Marriage
If you’re planning to separate from your spouse, one of the first things you should know is that Ohio has two ways to legally end a marriage: dissolution of marriage and divorce. These are sometimes colloquially referred to as “uncontested divorce” and “contested divorce,” respectively.
Dissolution of Marriage
When spouses mutually decide to separate and agree on all the terms of their separation, they can pursue a dissolution of marriage.
Depending on the exact situation, terms of separation may include:
- Property distribution
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Custody and visitation arrangements
- Child support
In this situation, spouses will need to jointly file a petition for a dissolution of marriage with the court, along with a separation agreement showing the terms they have agreed on. A lawyer can help you prepare a comprehensive separation agreement. After filing the necessary paperwork, the court will schedule a hearing where a judge will confirm that the agreement is amicable for both parties. If so, the court will recognize the agreement and legally end the marriage.
If one spouse wants to end the marriage but the other doesn’t or if both want to but cannot agree on one or more terms of their separation, one party will need to file a petition for a divorce. In a divorce, the court will hold a trial where each party and their lawyers can present their case. Ultimately, a judge will decide how to resolve the remaining disputed items based on their discretion, the facts of the case, and the state’s guidelines regulating each issue.
When filing for a divorce, the filing spouse will need to prove that they have a legally recognized reason for pursuing the case.
Potential grounds for divorce include:
- Cruelty or abuse
- Divorce filings in other states
- Living without cohabitation for more than a year
- Marriage under false pretenses
- Neglecting marital duties
- Prior marriages that were not legally ended
Depending on the reason provided, the case will proceed as either a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce. “Fault” makes one party responsible for ending the marriage. Incompatibility and living without cohabitation are the only legally acceptable reasons for a no-fault divorce.
Something to note is that spouses who don’t initially agree on one or more issues may still be able to pursue a dissolution of marriage by working with their lawyers and mediators to resolve any disputes prior to filing for a divorce. Mediation is frequently a cheaper option than letting the court decide on the disputed items.
Ohio does offer an alternative to ending a marriage called “legal separation.” In a legal separation, spouses remain married but are able to live separately with court-sanctioned determinations regarding custody arrangements, child support, alimony, and the separation of property. There are various reasons why some couples prefer legal separation to dissolution of marriage or divorce. Common reasons include financial- or insurance-related benefits and cultural or religious obligations.
Pursuing a Divorce in Columbus or a Surrounding Area
Whether you need help preparing a settlement agreement or dividing complex assets, Chris Smith Law is here for you. It’s our goal to help clients and their families navigate each step of the divorce process. We help our clients prepare and file paperwork, negotiate separation terms and divide property, and present their cases in divorce proceedings.
Call (614) 412-4442 to schedule a free consultation with our divorce lawyer in Columbus, OH. We serve Franklin County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Licking County.
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