Ending a marriage is stressful. In addition to the emotional challenges that accompany divorce, ending a marriage can become a complex legal process.
If you are considering divorce, you will need trustworthy legal counsel to help navigate the process. At Laubacher & Co., our Cleveland divorce attorneys understand the best practices for pursuing a divorce in Ohio. We will work with you to develop a comprehensive strategy that suits your needs and empowers you to pursue an ideal outcome in your case.
In Ohio, spouses seeking to end their marriages have two primary options: divorce or dissolution. If both parties agree that they are incompatible (commonly known as having "irreconcilable differences") and can resolve any relevant property division, support, and parenting issues, they can file for dissolution. Otherwise, if only one spouse is seeking a divorce, they are required to state a specific reason as provided by Section 3105.01 of the Ohio Revised Code. In Ohio, the legally permissible grounds for a fault-based divorce include:
- Your spouse was already married when you got married,
- Your spouse has abandoned you, or you have been living separately for at least a year,
- Your spouse has committed adultery,
- You are a victim of extreme cruelty, including domestic violence,
- Your spouse is habitually drunk,
- Your spouse is in state or federal prison at the time you are seeking to file for divorce, and
- Incompatibility, if your spouse does not dispute the fact that the two of you have become incompatible.
Proving your reasons for seeking a divorce can be complicated, and as discussed below, your spouse has the right to challenge your filing for divorce, and try to prevent you from obtaining a divorce.
In addition to agreeing to file for a no-fault dissolution or having sufficient grounds to file for a fault-based divorce, you must meet specific residency requirements as well. To file for divorce in Ohio:
- You must have lived in Ohio for at least the last six months, and
- In most cases, you must have lived in your current county of residence for at least 90 days.
Ways to Get a Divorce in Ohio
Some marriages end in contentious litigation, with the spouses unable to make even the most straightforward decisions together. With the right counsel, however, your situation does not have to end this way. You have several avenues to choose from when it comes to dissolving your marriage.
Dissolution is sometimes known as "no-fault" divorce. Dissolutions can be used when the parties feel they can enter the legal process amicably, without significant disagreement over property division or allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. This cost-saving approach is a useful alternative for many separating couples, mainly because the parties and their attorneys are able to agree on all facets of the parties' separation before ever stepping into a courtroom.
Often, separating spouses have legitimate disputes over property and personal issues that require court intervention. In that event, you should secure experienced, knowledgeable counsel to help you through the litigation process.
In rare cases, it may be beneficial to remain married while living separate and apart. This may be an appropriate option for a select number of couples who wish to separate. If you are seeking a legal separation from your spouse, you should consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your options.
Collaborative divorce is an alternative to traditional dissolution or divorce. We can assist clients through a guided negotiation process, which allows the parties to overcome difficulties in resolving parenting/custody or property issues cost-effectively.
Mediation, like collaborative divorce, is a method of alternative dispute resolution. Our team can help you utilize mediation to save time, stress, and money on your divorce. When spouses can agree on terms for their divorce or are seeking an amicable outcome, mediation may be an appropriate option.
In an annulment, the court invalidates a marriage. . . Unlike a divorce, annulments of marriage require certain qualifying grounds:
- One person was under the age to legally consent to marriage;
- Fraud, such as false identity or claiming pregnancy;
- One spouse was already legally married to another person who is still alive;
- Duress; and
- The marriage was never consummated.
How Do Fault-Based and No-Fault Divorces Work?
Once you file for a divorce, your spouse will have 28 days to respond. If he or she fails to file an answer, you will be permitted to pursue an "uncontested" divorce. This is usually the best-case scenario because:
- To prove your grounds for divorce, all you will have to do is testify and bring a witness to corroborate your testimony.
- In most cases, the judge will decide property division, custody, and support issues according to your requests (although you will want to work with an attorney to ensure that your requests comply with Ohio law).
- The whole process can be over within a few months.
However, if your spouse contests your divorce, then the process becomes more complex. In that case, you will want an experienced team of local attorneys on your side.
Options for No-Fault Divorce in Ohio
If you and your spouse agree that it is time to get a divorce, you have a few options available to end your marriage relatively quickly and with minimal strain on your family. Most commonly, parties can negotiate a reasonable and fair agreement through their counsel. Some families may benefit from the use mediation to resolve any differences with the help of a neutral third-party. Another option, known as "collaborative law," allows spouses to work together with legal, financial, family, and psychological advisors as necessary to reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce. Read more in our divorce and family law FAQs.
The county court's website also provides useful information for individuals and couples considering divorce, including:
- Court forms for divorce, child support, and spousal support
- Answers to more divorce FAQs
- Information for victims of domestic violence.
If you're considering a divorce, you may find some statistics about the divorce rate in Ohio interesting. Let's take a look at Ohio's divorce numbers over the past several years (using the most recent data available), focusing on statewide figures as well as figures from Cuyahoga County.
- 2011 – Ohio divorce rate: 58.1 percent. Cuyahoga County divorce rate: 62.7 percent.
- 2010 – Ohio divorce rate: 59.5 percent. Cuyahoga County divorce rate: 62.9 percent.
- 2009 – Ohio divorce rate: 57.4 percent. Cuyahoga County divorce rate: 60.3 percent.
- 2008 – Ohio divorce rate: 54.8 percent. Cuyahoga County divorce rate: 64.0 percent.
- 2007 – Ohio divorce rate: 55.6 percent. Cuyahoga County divorce rate: 59.8 percent.
Interestingly, while the CDC's data shows that the national divorce rate hovered right around 50 percent from 2007 to 2011, as you can see, Ohio's divorce rate trended upward during this period. If you go back to 2000, the state's divorce rate was relatively consistent at roughly 55 percent until it increased in 2009.
At Laubacher & Co., our Cleveland family law attorneys understand that filing for a divorce is never easy. We'll work with you to ensure that you (and your children, if you have any) can confidently navigate the divorce process.
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