Do You Need a Lawyer To Get a Divorce in Ohio?
The state of Ohio allows you to file for divorce without the assistance of a divorce attorney. Although few would recommend getting divorced without legal representation, you can do so if you choose.
Unfortunately, getting divorced on your own puts you at a disadvantage in the divorce process, particularly if you need to convince the court of your right to things like property, child custody, or spousal support. Even when you are seeking a dissolution of marriage, where you and your spouse agree on all terms of the divorce, you are still at risk of making mistakes during the filing process.
The following information will help you get an idea of what it takes to file for divorce on your own. With this information, you can decide if getting divorced without an attorney is your best option.
Basics of the Divorce Process in Ohio
Getting divorced in Cleveland, or anywhere in the state requires taking the following steps:
- Meeting residency requirements—You or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before you file.
- Choosing the “grounds” for divorce—You must state your reason for divorce or grounds. Ohio accepts both fault-based grounds, like adultery or extreme cruelty, as well as no-fault grounds, like incompatibility.
- Complete your divorce documents—There are a number of possible divorce documents you will need to fill out. It is important that you file the correct documents to avoid delays in the process. You can find a long list of documents at the Cuyahoga County Court website.
- File the documents with the court—You need to file in the county where you or your spouse resides and pay a filing fee.
- Serve your spouse—“Serving” is the delivery of your divorce documents to your spouse. You must do this as soon as you have filed. You can serve your spouse using a sheriff’s deputy, a private process server, or by registered mail. Your spouse will then need to complete the “Answer to Complaint” form and return it to the court.
- Go to court—Unless your spouse agrees to everything in your divorce complaint, you will need to argue your side in front of the court. Your spouse will almost certainly hire an attorney, so you will be forced to present your case in opposition to a trained professional. The chances of the court deciding on your behalf are slim in such circumstances.
- Hear the judgment of the court—Whatever decision the judge makes regarding issues like property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support are legally binding. You will need to adhere to these decisions, even if you do not like them.
Hire an Ohio Family Law Firm
At Laubacher & Co., we urge you to at least speak with one of our divorce attorneys before you move forward with a divorce on your own. We offer free consultations where you can learn about your options. Please contact us now