From your first visit to our office as a divorce client, we will advise you on protecting yourself legally and financially and gathering facts and evidence to present a strong case in settlement negotiations or at trial. We take this approach to every case, because we know that things are not always what they seem. A simple divorce can become complicated, or a friendly one can grow bitter. And some divorces are contentious from the start.
Because we are ready, willing and prepared for a fight, we are ready if your case goes to court, and we are in a solid position to negotiate a settlement.
Call us to schedule a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case. [Instead of this, you could just have a Schedule a Consultation button]
Divorce or Dissolution?
When a marriage breaks up, we call it a divorce, but “divorce” actually has a specific legal meaning in Ohio.
A divorce Is a court proceeding where you ask a judge to end the marriage and make decisions about property division, support and child custody. A divorce can be based on either “fault” or “no fault” grounds.
After you file divorce papers, you can ask the judge to make temporary orders such as orders for support payments and parenting arrangements. Each party is legally required to exchange financial and other information, and you may have hearings about the information exchange or other preliminary matters. A divorce case is tried in front of a judge, not a jury, and if you are unhappy with the result you can file an appeal.
Most divorce cases settle before trial. When that happens, the parties sign a proposed divorce decree and submit it to the court for approval.
In a dissolution, the parties reach agreement on all issues BEFORE any papers are filed in court. Dissolutions usually cost less than divorces, and the dispute isn’t aired in public documents. But you also don’t have the right to obtain financial information from the other side and you can’t seek any temporary orders from the court.
How Does a Divorce Work?
A divorce begins when one party (the plaintiff) files a divorce complaint with the court. The complaint must identify the legal grounds for divorce.
You don’t have to prove that someone is at fault to get a divorce in Ohio; there are two no-fault grounds: Incompatibility, if neither party denies it; or living separately for one year. There are also nine fault grounds: adultery, bigamy, absence for a year, extreme cruelty, fraudulent conduct, gross neglect of duty, habitual drunkenness, imprisonment or an out of state divorce. You must have been an Ohio resident for at least six months to file for divorce in Ohio.
After the complaint is filed, the court will send it to (or “serve” it on) the other spouse (the defendant), who will have 30 days to file an answer. At this point you can begin formally exchanging information or seek temporary orders. The court may order you to attend mediation or may appoint someone to represent your children’s interests in court. The main issues that will be decided in the divorce are property division, alimony (also known as spousal support), and child custody and support. A divorce decree can also restore the name either party had before marriage.
If you are considering filing for divorce, or if you think your spouse may file, it is important to get legal advice as early as possible to protect your rights and your finances.