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Ohio laws suppose there are three ways to end up with your marriage union: annulment, dissolution of marriage, and, finally, divorce.

Unlike most of the other states, in Ohio, the dissolution and divorce are not synonymous concepts. So you should think in advance which option to choose.

The word "divorce" in Ohio mainly implies a contested case. But the difference between an uncontested divorce (as it is commonly understood) and a dissolution of marriage is not so huge. Both these types mean amicable, no-fault and non-adversarial proceeding. If you file for a dissolution you should file a joint Petition together with your spouse and you both must attend a final hearing. If there is an uncontested divorce, the initiator files a Complaint and have to attend a final hearing with a witness.

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Ohio divorce details

Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Ohio

A contested divorce is probably that thing you often associate with any procedure that ends the marriage: all these huge expenses and long-length trials, mutual blame and so on. Unfortunately, in most cases, it is a pretty fair image. When you file for a contested divorce in Ohio, you complete a Complaint and make the court to be responsible to divide your property, rights, and obligations. Also, you need to hire the qualified attorney to represent your best interests in this proceeding, at least if you want to win the trial.

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 which 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, a so-called uncontested divorce (don’t confuse with a dissolution of marriage!) can take place in two cases:

  • You have not any complaints to your spouse or have not any valuable marital property to divide it in the court. Maybe, you can reach an agreement with your spouse and you desire to get divorced is mutual but you still can not file a joint petition and attend a final hearing together for some reason.
  • One of the spouses files for divorce, but the other just doesn’t respond or cannot be found. Due there is no such concept as “default divorce” in Ohio laws, after 42 days of silence the spouse who initiates a divorce can request an uncontested divorce.

Grounds for Divorce in Ohio

Speaking of grounds for divorce Ohio is a mixed state. You can use either no-fault or fault ground for divorce. The last is typically used in a contested divorce because, under the court's decision, one of the fault grounds can help to gain some benefits to the initiator of the divorce. And no-fault grounds are the causes for dissolution of marriage.

Let’s list all of them.

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):

  • Adultery;
  • Cruelty;
  • Fraudulent contract;
  • Gross neglect of duty;
  • Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse;
  • Imprisonment.

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 consider, that if one of spouses have never lived in this state, it can limit jurisdiction over him/her.

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. Speaking of an amicable, cheap and quite an easy way to end the marriage in Ohio, we should use a term “Dissolution of marriage”. And here are the steps you should make to file for dissolution:

  1. As a dissolution is a mutual and peaceful process, its most important part is to agree with your spouse about the intention to file a joint Petition for Dissolution and to clarify all possible issues. You must discuss and reach an agreement on how the property, responsibilities and parenting time should be divided in the end. If there are some difficulties in some point, you may work with a mediator.
  2. If you found a common ground, it’s time to make a Separation Agreement. It is the first document of your dissolution, it covers and claims all you have discussed and decided earlier (if you have children a Separation Agreement must include not only financial and material issues, but a Parenting plan either).
  3. File a Petition for Dissolution and other forms for you case (you always can find the list of documents on Ohio court website).
  4. Take the Petition to the clerk of the domestic relations court in your county and pay the filing fee.
  5. There is no waiting period for a dissolution in Ohio, so after filing a 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, that you are OK 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 - doing it yourself you can lose everything if your spouse has a qualified attorney.

So a reasonable DIY divorce - using Ohio terminology - is a DIY dissolution.

A Dissolution of marriage is really that thing you can cope with by yourself. Just follow the mentioned above steps and do not neglect the mediation if any misunderstandings arise between you and your spouse.

How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?

In Ohio, an average cost of divorce (a contested case, because an uncontested is defined as dissolution in this state) is $12 500 including $9 900 of attorney’s fees.

Lawyers’ flat fees for dissolution are about $600 - $800 + filing fee, depending on whether the children are involved.

Do-it-yourself divorce is the cheapest way and there is only the pay for initial filing (usually, between $200 and $300) and maybe some additional court fees according your certain case.

Finally, you can file for divorce online with the help of our service and get an online support and a quickly prepared case of the necessary paperwork for $149.

And if you decided to try mediation, the mediator fees are about $150 anyway in 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 agreed all the issues and filed 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 any involved), and on the factual complexity of your separation.

Papers & Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Ohio

Depending on different features of your unique case you may need a lot of different forms you can find on a website of Ohio Supreme Court. But there is such a basic set that is useful in all the most common cases. So, to file for divorce in Ohio you definitely 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.

It is clear from its name, that this form helps you to ask 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.

The same thing, but about the property. You should list all your, your spouse’s and joint property & 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 necessary for the dissolution either. But in case of dissolution, a Petition (Form 14) must be filed instead of a Complaint, and there are some additional form. It is connected with the need to fix mutual agreements and shared parenting plan, which the parents made independently: Form 17 – Shared Parenting Plan; Form 15 – Judgment Entry(if it is required by the local court); Form 16 - Separation Agreement.

How to Serve Your Spouse in Ohio

In Ohio, if you decided to file for divorce, not for dissolution, the state still helps you with serving your spouse. So, 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 to have an evidence that the envelope was delivered (and also when and by whom it was received).

But you can also try a personal service when the documents are delivered at the respondent’s place of living or employment. The paperwork is handed to your spouse by a court employee. But if there is still no result in 28 days, these copies are returned to the clerk.

Online Divorce in Ohio

Online divorce is allowed in Ohio. Though this option can not guarantee success in a fault-based contested divorce, online divorce is a great finding in case of dissolution. You can download all the necessary paperwork on your computer, and then, your completed forms and Separation agreement will be reviewed by the online-support specialists in a short time. Also, your documents can be automatically directed 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 both jointly) can make a shared parenting plan and submit it to the court. This plan must more-less involve both spouses in the process of upbringing and declare and allocate all important issues about 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 and, surely, considering the children’s interests. Most often it happens in this way:

one of the parents is appointed to be a residential parent and a legal custodian (this parent has the main rights and responsibilities, and the child lives with him/her); the rest of rights & responsibilities (among which are child support and parenting time) are allocated between to spouses. How exactly - depends on the certain case.

Rules for Spousal Support in Ohio

Ohio laws assume that each of spouses can both contribute equally to the family income prior the divorce and be employed and have a personal income after it, so the spousal support is not a kind of “automatic right” in the state.

Surely, there are different factors that can seriously affect one spouse’s ability to fend for him/herself, so the alimony can be appointed by the court in certain cases. You can find all the factors in Ohio Revised Code (Section 3105.18). Nevertheless, there is not any strict rule of alimony calculation, the judge takes into account these significant factors, but appoints a spousal support at his/her discretion.

The court also decides the terms and amount of a spousal support. The alimony can be paid both in money and in form of a 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 way, which is not mean “equal” but simply as fair as possible according to the Court’s conclusion.

Generally, all the spouses’ property should be defined as 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. Of you have a prenuptial agreement, it defines all your separate property exactly.

Your separate property stays with you, and a marital property should be divided between two parties by your mutual agreement or by the court.

Division of Debt in Ohio

That is quite interesting that Ohio laws tell nothing about the division of debts. There is no rule that debts are divided the same way as property does. The court considers each case separately and as a result there are four ways to decide this question:

  • The debt is divided 50/50;
  • The debt is divided in proportion to each spouse’s income;
  • The debt is assigned to the account owner;
  • The debt is assigned to that, 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, even if initially he/she is a lawyer. Mediation can be very relevant to make that kind of 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. Now, a lot of Ohio’s counties have their own mediation departments.

How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Ohio

If you can’t locate your spouse, if you even don’t know where he/she lives or works and all the mail with the divorce paperwork return as "undeliverable", Ohio courts let you serve your spouse by publication. In that case, you should fill out the "Affidavit for Service by Posting" form in your courthouse. This document tells 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 few times, and after 6 weeks your spouse is officially considered to be served.

So, 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, at the hearing, 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.

Default Divorce

Notice! Ohio law prohibits default judgments in divorce cases.

The 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 the 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 erases, voids it. As if it never happened. So there is not any agreements, post-marriage responsibilities, and other typical divorce issues.

We can say, that an annulment corrects the error of registration of illegal marriage.

The grounds to obtain an annulment in Ohio are the following:

  • an underage of the spouse (18 for males and 16 for females if there is a parental consent);
  • bigamy;
  • mental incompetence of one spouse;
  • consent to marry obtained by fraud or force;
  • unconsummated Marriage.

Legal Separation in Ohio

A 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

While some states have resisted the guaranteeing a nationwide right to same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court’s decision in June 2015, county courts in the state of Ohio began to issue marriage licenses within hours of the Court’s ruling.

Now, there is not any difference between the rules for the straight and same-gender couples of how to get a divorce or dissolution, and you should file for divorce at the place of your (or your spouse’s) residence, not in the place where you married.

Military Divorce in Ohio

As the divorce cannot proceed by default in the state of Ohio, the 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 + additional 60 days after it. But, surely, the military spouse can waive for this postponement if he/she want to get a divorce as soon as possible. Also, the military spouse can sign a waiver acknowledging the divorce, if there is an uncontested case and both spouses are fine with it.

Speaking of the property division, the Uniformed Service Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), allows dividing the military retirement benefits if the spouses were married over 10 years (during which time one of the spouses was a member of the active duty military).

How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Ohio

If you decided to divorce the incarcerated spouse, be sure you can file for divorce even if he/she is unable to attend the hearings. In Ohio, 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, he/she must answer this complaint.

Ohio Divorce Filing Fee

Filing Fee is a cost to cover the county court services such as summons, subpoenas, notices, orders etc. In Ohio, filing fees (or initial fees) vary by county. An average cost is between $200 to $300, but you should contact your county court to find out the exact cost for your case (because of there some factors which can influence the final amount).

Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?

Yes, a filing fee can be waived in Ohio.

If the one can be qualified as an indigent, he/she must file out a special form to request a waiving the fee because of financial hardship.

How We Can Help

We can make your dissolution or divorce process as clear and easy as possible!

You don’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out what forms are necessary for your case, and how to fill them out correctly. Provide some basic information about yourself and about your case, and we will be able to prepare your forms both quickly and accurately, considering all the nuances of your county’ rules of separation.

Our service costs $149 and that's all - it has no hidden extra fees.

Please contact us to ask your questions.

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