When it comes to divorce in Ohio, what exactly does it look like? Each state has different divorce laws or requirements, all of which affect what your divorce experience will be. Whether it is your first time getting a divorce, or you’ve been down this road once before, it is imperative to have a clear understanding of what the process is going to be from beginning to end.
The following are several factors you should know about the Ohio divorce process:
- Determine if you are eligible for divorce – In Ohio, you need to be a resident of the state for a minimum of six months before you can file for divorce.
- Choose where to file – Counties in Ohio have residential requirements as well. You need to file for divorce in the County Court where the plaintiff (the person filing for divorce) resides. You, or your spouse, must have lived in the county you’re filing in for at least 90 days to be eligible for divorce.
- State your grounds – Ohio is considered a mixed state, meaning you can use either fault or no-fault grounds as the basis for seeking a divorce. No-fault divorce requires that the filing spouse allege irreconcilable differences between the parties. A spouse filing for a fault divorce may cite any of the following grounds: adultery, fraudulent contract, extreme cruelty, the willful absence of the other party for more than one year, living separate and apart for more than one year, incompatibility, etc. Your lawyer may advise you to use fault grounds to gain leverage in a contested child custody case or dispute about the division of marital property or the amount of alimony.
- Collect your forms – These forms include the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Complain for Divorce, as well as the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage or Decree of Divorce. Aside from these essential documents, there are anywhere from 10 to 20 other documents that may be required throughout the filing process, such as Domestic Case Designation Form, Marital Settlement Agreement, Affidavit in Compliance With (ORC 3109.27), and Health Care Order.
- File with the courts – As soon as your packet of forms is complete, you can officially file with the courts. Your case will be opened, and your spouse will be served with divorce papers. Then, you’ll start the divorce process. The clerk’s office is responsible to keep you and your lawyer informed throughout the process in regards to additional paperwork, requirements, as well as hearing dates and times.
- Ohio is an equitable distribution state – When it comes to property division, the court will divide marital property equitably between the two parties. Separate property is not subject to division.
- Rules for child custody – Ohio courts, like all state courts, begin with the presumption that it is best for a child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after a divorce. Judges want to support joint custody arrangements if possible. On the other hand, the precise nature of the time-share will be determined by the child’s best interests.