Understanding "No-Fault" Divorce

In Ohio, the two most common ways to end a marriage are dissolution or divorce. The following is an overview of what dissolution or "no-fault divorce" is, how it is different from divorce and the steps involved in seeking a dissolution.

Dissolution is a legal mechanism that results in the termination of a marriage. In order to use this tool, the parties cannot assign fault for the end of their union, and must be able and willing to agree on the particulars of a settlement.

How Is Dissolution Different From Divorce?

As stated above, a dissolution must be amicable, and the parties must be able to work together to set the terms of their separation agreement. The only role the court plays is in reviewing and approving the final agreement and then granting the termination.

Like dissolution, a divorce can be no-fault, but this is where the similarities end. Divorces may also be based on fault — i.e., one party can allege that the actions of the other party are the cause for the termination of the marriage.

In a divorce, the parties need not agree on any of the terms of their settlement, and can contest everything from the division of property to child custody arrangements. Because the parties cannot come to a settlement on their own, they may ask the court to make a final determination for them.

Generally, a dissolution is the best option when the parties can communicate and reach decisions together. Divorces are better used when the parties are in disagreement about a variety of issues, or where they are unable to work together.

What Are The Steps Involved In Seeking A Dissolution?

You will need to:

Decide on the terms of the separation

The first step in any dissolution action is for the parties to decide on the terms. The parties must be willing and able to divide their marital property, to set the amount of spousal support, and to decide on child custody and child support. If the parties cannot come to an agreement on the terms, they may have to institute a divorce action instead of a dissolution.

Draft and sign a separation agreement and petition

After the terms are decided on, the parties (or their attorneys) must memorialize them in a separation agreement. This document can be modified before or during the dissolution proceedings. It must be signed by both parties.

The separation agreement must be attached to a petition that is also signed by the parties and then filed with the court. Technically, the petition must be served on both parties, but many choose to waive this requirement by signing a form that is filed with the petition.

Set a hearing with the court within the proper time period

Once the paperwork has been received by the court, the parties may set a date for a hearing. The hearing must be 30 to 90 days after the filing of the petition and separation agreement.

Attend the hearing

In order to proceed, both parties must attend the hearing. The judge will examine the details of the separation agreement to make sure that it is equitable. Both spouses must be willing to testify that they entered the agreement voluntarily, that they are content with the terms of the agreement and that they want the marriage to be dissolved.

Terminate the marriage

After being satisfied that the separation agreement was properly crafted, the judge will grant the termination of the marriage. The marriage is now dissolved, and the terms of the separation agreement will govern the parties' future interactions.

Contact An Ohio Divorce Attorney

This is only a brief overview of the dissolution process. Every case will be different, and unexpected complications often arise. If you're thinking about ending your marriage, it's best to talk to an Ohio divorce attorney and learn more about dissolution, divorce and your best way forward. Email us, or call the offices of Laubacher & Co. at 440-462-1882 today to schedule a free initial consultation.

We help clients throughout Rocky River and the Cleveland area.