Ohio divorce details
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Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Ohio
A contested divorce is probably what you often associate with the typical image of divorce: huge expenses, lengthy trials, and court battles. Unfortunately, in most cases, that is an accurate image. When you file for a contested divorce in Ohio, you complete a complaint and give the court responsibility in dividing your property, rights, and obligations. Also, you need to hire a qualified attorney to represent your best interests in this type of proceeding.
An uncontested divorce implies that you can reach an agreement with your spouse on all significant issues of your post-divorce life. So, you can make a settlement agreement that clarifies all the property decisions in advance (even before you officially file for divorce in the county court). You may use a mediator’s help to negotiate and to find mutually beneficial terms, but hiring an attorney is not necessary. An uncontested divorce and a dissolution of marriage are the options you can use to achieve an online and DIY divorce.
Uncontested Divorce in Ohio
In Ohio, an uncontested divorce (don’t confuse it with the dissolution of marriage!) can take place in two cases:
- You do not have any complaints against your spouse or do not have any valuable marital property to divide in court. You can reach an agreement with your spouse and the desire to get divorced is mutual, but you are still not allowed to file for a joint petition and attend the final hearing together.
- One of the spouses file for divorce, but the other just doesn’t respond or cannot be found. As there is no such concept as a “default divorce” in Ohio, after 42 days of silence, the spouse who initiated the divorce can request an uncontested case.
Grounds for Divorce in Ohio
Ohio is a mixed state. This means that both no-fault and fault grounds for divorce are recognized. Fault grounds are usually used in contested cases since some fault grounds can help give the initiator an advantage during the divorce. No-fault grounds are the causes for the dissolution of marriage.
No-fault grounds (for dissolution):
- Incompatibility (conflict of interests and so on, quite abstract formulation that is suitable not to discuss a lot of personal misunderstandings);
- The spouses lived separate at least for one year.
Fault grounds (for divorce):
- Fraudulent contract;
- Gross neglect of duty;
- Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse;
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Ohio Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
To file for divorce in Ohio, you must reside in this state for 6 months before filing and for 90 days in the particular county.
If your spouse meets these residency requirements of the state, you can file for divorce in Ohio wherever you live.
But it is important to remember that if one of the spouses has never lived in the state, it can limit jurisdiction over them.
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Ohio
Unlike other states, Ohio law recognizes an uncontested divorce only as a substitute for a divorce by default. In Ohio, the term “dissolution of marriage” refers to an amicable, cheap and easy way of terminating a marriage. The following steps should be taken to file for dissolution:
- As a dissolution is a mutual and peaceful process, its most important part is that both spouses agree to the intention to file a joint Petition for Dissolution and to clarify all possible issues. You must discuss and reach an agreement on how property, debt, and child custody should be divided. If there are any difficulties, you may work with a mediator.
- If you find common grounds, you should create a Separation Agreement. It is the first document of your dissolution and it covers the decision made regarding all the issues of divorce (if you have children, it must also contain a Parenting plan).
- File a Petition for Dissolution and other forms for you case (you can find the list of documents on the Ohio court website).
- Take the Petition to the clerk of the domestic relations court in your county and pay the filing fee.
- There is no waiting period for a dissolution in Ohio, so after you file the paperwork, you should attend a final hearing very soon. There, you and your spouse must swear before the judge that you signed all the documents voluntarily and that you agree with all the terms and details of your agreement, and that you really want to terminate the marriage.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Ohio
Generally, a Do-it-yourself option in the case of fault-based and contested divorce is not considered as a good idea. Contested divorce entails a lot of difficulties and risks. So you risk losing everything if you decide to do it yourself and your spouse has a qualified attorney.
So a reasonable DIY divorce, using Ohio terminology, is a DIY dissolution.
Dissolution of marriage is a process that you can cope by yourself. Just follow the steps mentioned above and do not neglect mediation if any misunderstandings arise between you and your spouse.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
In Ohio, the average cost of divorce(a contested case since an uncontested is defined as dissolution in this state) is $12,500 including $9,900 in attorney fees.
Lawyers’ flat fees for dissolution are about $600 - $800 + filing fee, depending on whether children are involved.
Do-it-yourself divorce is the cheapest method as you only need to pay for the filing fee (between $200 - $300) and some additional court fees depending on your case.
Finally, you can file for divorce online with the help of our service. For just $149, you can get online support and get all your documents prepared accurately and on time.
And if you decide to try mediation, the mediator fees are about $150 in the case of divorce or separation.
How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced in Ohio?
From start to finish, a contested divorce in Ohio can take from 12 to 18 months.
In case of a dissolution (uncontested divorce), the final hearing is appointed after a period of 30 to 90 days since you agree to all the issues and file a petition for dissolution.
But take into account that this timeline always depends on your organizational skills, ability to negotiate with your spouse and mediator (if involved), and the factual complexity of your separation.
How to Serve Your Spouse in Ohio
In Ohio, if you decide to file for divorce and not dissolution, the state still helps you with serving your spouse. The court clerk is responsible to hand the divorce complaint to your spouse, and you shouldn’t bother about it. The clerk sends the paperwork (the summons and complaint) by certified or express mail, and requests a return receipt as evidence that the envelope was delivered (and when and by whom it was received).
You can also try a personal service where the documents are delivered to the respondent’s place of living or employment. The paperwork is handed to your spouse by a court employee. If there is no result in 28 days, the copies are returned to the clerk.
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Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Ohio
Depending on your unique case, you may need a lot of different forms, which you can find on the Ohio Supreme Court’s website. But there is a basic set that is useful in all the most common cases. So, to file for divorce in Ohio you must fill out these forms:
- Form 6. Complaint for divorce without Children (or Form 7, in case any children are involved).
This form has the same function as the petition for dissolution, but is required in case of divorce. It expresses your intention to get a divorce.
- DR Form 28/Juvi Form 10 - Request for Service.
This form helps you request for the help of clerk to serve your spouse with the paperwork.
- Form 1 - Affidavit of Income and Expenses.
This affidavit is used to make a complete disclosure of your income and expenses and to determine child and spousal support amounts.
- Form 2 - Affidavit of Property.
This is the same as the one above, but in regards to property. You should list all the property between you and your spouse, including joint property and debts.
If you have children, you also need the forms below:
- Form 3 - Parenting Proceeding Affidavit.
- Form 4 – Health Insurance Affidavit.
Forms 1, 2, 3, and 4 are also necessary for a dissolution. But in the case of dissolution, a petition (Form 14) must be filed instead of a Complaint, along with some additional forms. It is connected with the need to fix mutual agreements and shared parenting plan, which the parents create independently: Form 17 – Shared Parenting Plan; Form 15 – Judgment Entry (if required by the local court); Form 16 - Separation Agreement.
Online Divorce in Ohio
Online divorce is allowed in Ohio. Although this option does not guarantee success in a fault-based contested divorce, online divorce is a very convenient in case of dissolution. You can download all the necessary paperwork on your computer and get your completed forms and Separation agreement reviewed by online-support specialists. Furthermore, your documents can be automatically delivered to your county court.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Ohio
According to the Ohio Revised Code, the main principle of children support & custody issues is based on the equality of both parents. It means that each of them (or jointly) can make a shared parenting plan and submit it to the court. This plan must more or less involve both spouses in the process of upbringing and declare and allocate all important issues regarding child support and parenting time (a term for “visitation” in Ohio). Generally, this plan must be drawn up in accordance with the best interests of a child, then the judge can approve it without much hesitation
Without a shared parenting plan, the court allocates all the responsibilities and rights at its discretion in the child’s best interests. Oftentimes, it happens this way:
one of the parents is appointed to be a residential parent and legal custodian (this parent has the main rights and responsibilities, and the child lives with them); the rest of rights & responsibilities (child support and parenting time) are allocated between the spouses. How exactly they are divided depends on the case.
Rules for Spousal Support in Ohio
Ohio laws assume that each of spouses can both contribute equally to the family income prior to the divorce and be employed and have a personal income afterwards. As a result, spousal support is not an “automatic right” in the state.
There are different factors that can seriously affect one spouse’s ability to fend for themselves, so alimony can be appointed by the court in certain cases. You can find all these factors in the Ohio Revised Code (Section 3105.18). Nevertheless, there isn’t any strict rule for alimony calculation. The judge takes into account these significant factors, but appoints a spousal support at its discretion.
The court also decides the terms and amount of spousal support. The alimony can be paid both in cash or in the form of real and personal property.
Division of Property in Ohio
Ohio is an equitable distribution state. In a divorce process, all the property is divided between two parties in an equitable (but not necessarily “equal”) way.
Generally, all the spouses’ property should be distinguished between marital and separate property:
- Marital property: real estate and property, retirement benefits, income produced by your personal property in case that income has attitude to your spouse’s contribution.
- Separate property: everything you owned prior to marriage (and income & interest from this property), personal inheritances, gifts. Or you have a prenuptial agreement that defines all your separate property exactly.
Separate property is not subject to division while marital property is divided based on mutual agreement or by the court.
Division of Debt in Ohio
There is no rule that debts are divided the same way as property is. The court considers each case separately and as a result, there are four ways to decide this question:
- Debt is divided 50/50;
- Debt is divided in proportion to each spouse’s income;
- Debt is assigned to the account owner;
- Debt is assigned to who caused it.
Divorce Mediation in Ohio
Mediation is a process aimed to help spouses to negotiate and resolve the dispute about all the significant issues of their separation. During the mediation, both spouses communicate with the help of a neutral mediator, who cannot take the side of one of the spouses or give legal advice. Mediation can be very helpful in creating a complete and detailed settlement agreement, which would satisfy both parties.
This option is becoming more popular as the uncontested and online-divorce rates rise. More and more often, spouses choose peaceful cooperation - not long trial battles. As a result, a lot of Ohio’s counties have their own mediation departments.
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How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Ohio
If you are unable to serve your spouse because you are unaware of their location, Ohio courts let you serve by publication. In that case, you should fill out the "Affidavit for Service by Posting" form in your courthouse. This document informs the court about your attempts to find your spouse.
The notice of your divorce claims that the missing spouse must answer within 28 days. This notice is published in the local newspaper several times, and after 6 weeks your spouse is officially considered to be served.
After the last publication, the divorce case can proceed and you should attend the final hearing. Due to the fact that Ohio law prohibits default judgments in divorce cases, you must present a witness who can testify that the parties were married. If you can prove all the elements necessary for a divorce, the court will address all the property issues according to your evidence, and your marriage will legally end.
Note that Ohio law prohibits default judgments in divorce cases.
Divorce in Ohio cannot proceed by default, even if your spouse failed to respond to your original complaint. The hearing is held anyway, and you must present to the court the evidence that divorce is needed and some support or other things should be granted.
Annulment of Marriage in Ohio
Annulment is one of the three ways to end a married life in Ohio. But, more precisely, an annulment does not terminate the marriage but instead declares it as invalid, or as it never existed. So there are no agreements, post-marriage responsibilities, and other typical divorce issues.
We can say that an annulment corrects the error of an illegally registered marriage.
The grounds to obtain an annulment in Ohio are the following:
- one of the spouses is underage (18 for males and 16 for females if there is parental consent);
- mental incompetence of one spouse;
- consent to marry obtained by fraud or force;
- unconsummated Marriage.
Legal Separation in Ohio
Legal separation is a way to end your married life but officially remain married. It means that the spouses start to live separately, but don’t actually divorce.
Due to the separate residence of the spouses, a legal separation allows the court to allocate the property, rights, and responsibilities of the parties, and to issue orders related to alimony and child custody and parenting time.
Same-Sex Divorce in Ohio
Although many states resisted the acceptance of same-sex marriage, county courts in Ohio began to issue marriage licenses within hours of the Supreme Court’s ruling in June 2015.
The rules and procedures for the divorce process are the same for both heterosexual and same-sex couples. You should file for divorce at the place of your (or your spouse’s) residence, not in the place where you got married.
Military Divorce in Ohio
As divorce cannot proceed by default in the state of Ohio, military members are protected against it too. If one of the spouses is an active duty member, all the divorce proceedings may be postponed for the whole period of the active duty plus an additional 60 days after it. The military spouse can waive this postponement if they want to get a divorce as soon as possible.
Also, the military spouse can sign a waiver acknowledging the divorce, if it is an uncontested case and both spouses are fine with it.
In terms of property division, the Uniformed Service Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) does not allow military pension to be divided unless the spouses were married for at least 10 years, during which the military spouse was on active duty).
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Ohio
If you decide to divorce an incarcerated spouse, be sure you can file for divorce even if they are unable to attend the hearings. In such cases, the inmate is allowed to attend by telephone.
The service process is the same - you should complete the notice of the proceeding, and the court clerk will handle service by mailing a copy of the divorce complaint to your spouse. Once served, they must answer this complaint.
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Ohio Divorce Filing Fee
Court filing fees are in addition to the cost of using DivorceFiller.com. This cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
Yes, the filing fee can be waived in Ohio.
The filing spouse must file a special form to request that details their financial difficulty. The court will then approve or deny the request.
How We Can Help
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