In the state of Ohio, a person can file for divorce after they have lived in the state for at least six months and in the county where they are filing for at least 90 days. It is also possible for a person to file for divorce before completing six months of residency, but only if their spouse has lived in Ohio for at least six months. This is Ohio’s residency requirement for the divorce process.

The state does not have any such residency requirement for obtaining a legal separation; this means that a person can file for a legal separation as soon as they move to the state.

Under Ohio law, to obtain either a separation or a divorce, a person needs to file paperwork with the court. If a person decides to pursue a formal legal separation or a divorce through the court, they will also be required to select one of the reasons recognized by Ohio law as the recognized grounds for divorce or separation.

The reasons for a no-fault divorce are as follows:

  • Incompatibility: This is an option when both spouses agree on all of the possible issues such as, child custody, child support, division of property, alimony and the like.
  • Living separately for at least one year: This applies if the spouses have lived apart for at least one year.

No-fault divorce is an option when both spouses agree on all of the possible issues such as, child custody, child support, division of property, alimony and the like.

If a married couple can agree, the no-fault divorce option allows them to speed up the entire divorce process and also save quite a lot of money for both parties. Again, a person or their spouse should have resided in Ohio for at least 6 months; however, they can file for divorce in any county.

In Ohio, the reasons for a fault divorce are as follows:

What Paperwork Do I Need to File for a Divorce in Ohio?

As mentioned, there are three ways that a person can file for divorce in Ohio. They may either file for a fault divorce, a no-fault divorce or a dissolution of marriage, the result of a so-called collaborative divorce.

In a collaborative divorce neither spouse actually files for divorce. In Ohio, a successful collaborative divorce actually results in a dissolution of marriage. This is achieved when all the issues involved in ending the marriage are agreed upon by both parties prior to filing with the court. Custody, child support, spousal support (alimony), property distribution, are all issues that have to be agreed upon by both parties.

Two attorneys must be involved in a collaborative divorce, one for each party. The parties along with their attorneys enter into a “Collaborative Agreement.” This is a contract entered into by all the parties in which they agree to engage in the collaborative process with an honest, collaborative, and non-hostile attitude. It also limits the scope of the attorney’s representation.

If the collaborative process is not successful, the attorneys must withdraw from the case, and the parties would have to find different attorneys to proceed with a regular dissolution or divorce. Often when a normal dissolution is not successful, the attorney who was unsuccessful in negotiating a dissolution settlement will represent the spouse in the subsequent divorce process. This is not allowed in a collaborative divorce. Also, a neutral financial expert and/or child expert may participate to help negotiate a fair and equitable agreement for both parties.

There are standard forms available on the Supreme Court of Ohio’s website that a person can use to start either a fault or no-fault divorce. As noted above, a collaborative agreement must be negotiated in a collaborative dissolution. This will be filed with the court when they wish to finalize the divorce.

If a person decides to file for no-fault divorce, or dissolution marriage, then they need to file most of the forms at the very beginning of the process, even before the court assigns a case number. The following documents are required in case of fault or no-fault dissolution:

  • Petition for Dissolution for Marriage, including the Waiver of Service of Process: This form is jointly filed by both spouses. It identifies the two parties, children and includes the signed separation agreement. The form should show that at least one spouse meets the residency requirement for divorce.
  • Statement of Financial Disclosure: This includes information about the finances and expenses of the person and their spouse. The Property Affidavit requires information about the property to be distributed during the divorce process.
  • Settlement Agreement (or Separation Agreement): This specifies the division of all property and debts, spousal support, parental rights, responsibilities, parenting time and child support. In case of dissolution, the form stipulates waiver of the right to an attorney by both spouses. The form is signed and notarized by each spouse.

In case there are minor children involved, the following additional documents must be submitted:

  • Child Support Worksheet: This is used for the computation of child support based on the custody arrangements and the parent’s income.
  • Shared Parenting Plan or Sole Custody Agreement: This form contains information about the child custody and child support payments after the divorce.
  • Parenting Proceeding Affidavit: This document contains information about a person’s children and their current family situation.
  • Health Insurance Affidavit: This document contains information regarding the health insurance of the person’s child or children.
  • IV-D Application: This form is for enrolling in child support services

While both a collaborative divorce and a dissolution of marriage require spousal notification before a person can file for divorce, a traditional divorce does not require a person to announce their intent to divorce before filing the paperwork.

If a person decides to file for a divorce in court, then they must fill out a “Complaint for Divorce” and file it with the local court. Once a person has filed the complaint, they need to alert their spouse of their intent to seek a divorce, because the person must serve the complaint on their spouse.

If a person and their spouse have minor children, then they must have a “Parenting Proceeding Affidavit”, a document in which the party filing for the divorce must provide all the information regarding the residence of the child or children for the previous 5 years.

What are Some Community Property and Separate Property Differences in Ohio?

Ohio couts effect an equitable distribution of property in a divorce. It is not a community property state. This means that Ohio courts are required to divide the marital property between the parties in a fair manner. The division may not always be completely equal in value. Marital property is generally any property or assets a couple has acquired while married.

Any property that is not marital property is separate property. If a person has separate property, that property is theirs and will not be subject to equitable distribution in the divorce proceeding. Separate property may include:

  • Anything a person inherited or received as a gift;
  • Property that was acquired before the marriage;
  • Awards of damages in personal injury cases, not including anything intended to compensate for any expenditures or losses from marital property;
  • Any property that a person and their spouse have agreed to make separate property via an antenuptial agreement and;
  • Any appreciation or passive income generated by separate real property.

What Should I Do if Children Are Involved in a Divorce Filed in Ohio?

If there are children involved, various legal issues can arise. This includes disputes over who will have custody of the children, and whether one spouse will pay child support to the other. Ohio courts encourage divorcing parents to submit a parenting plan.

In this plan, the spouses can make known their preferences with regard to child custody and visitation. The court considers whether the parenting plan is in the best interest of the child by analyzing different factors.

Some of the factors the court considers are the child’s basic needs and their wish regarding custody, criminal backgrounds of the parents, any instances of abuse or neglect, and the mental and physical health of the parents. Before approving any parenting plan or deciding on a different custody arrangement, the court may also require one or both of the spouses to attend parenting classes or counseling.

Child support is closely tied in with custody because one parent may be required to pay support to the other parent, if the other parent has sole custody of any children.

This requirement is intended to allow the noncustodial parent an opportunity to fulfill their duty of providing financial support to the child, including providing medical insurance and other similar needs.

Do I Need to Pay Alimony Under Ohio Law?

Once the court has distributed the marital property between the spouses, it may also determine whether one partner needs to pay spousal support, also known as alimony, to the other spouse. When appropriate, spousal support can be granted on a temporary basis while the divorce proceeding is underway.

Under Ohio law, spousal support may be awarded in the form of real or personal property, instead of the traditional form of money payments. In order to determine the amount of spousal support, the court considers a number of factors, including:

  • Any requests for spousal support submitted by either spouse;
  • The income and earning potential of each spouse;
  • The age and mental condition of each spouse;
  • Whether each spouse has retirement benefits;
  • Each spouse’s standard of living during the marriage;
  • The time and money needed by a spouse to obtain necessary training or education; and
  • How long the marriage lasted;
  • Whether one or both spouses contributed to the education, earning ability or training of the other;
  • Whether one spouse lost income because of marital responsibility.

Spousal support does not end automatically just because the receiving spouse remarries. Rather, it can only end under a specified termination date, if one obtains a court order ending the support, or if the spouse receiving it dies. There may be exceptions if the order for spousal support specifically provides for another outcome in the event of the spouse’s death.

Where Can I Find the Right Ohio Divorce Lawyer?

Divorce is an extremely important matter that can affect your life in many different ways. It may be in your best interests to hire an Ohio divorce lawyer to represent you. An attorney will be able to inform you of your rights and obligations with regard to the divorce and ensure that you fiole the appropriate paperwork and that it is correctly completed.

They can represent you at court hearings and in a trial, if your case gets to that stage. You are most likely to get the best possible outcome if you have an experienced Ohio divorce lawyer representing your interests.