Updated: Divorce in Ohio, Part 2

No-fault dissolution requires joint petition, streamlines process


In “Updated: Divorce in Ohio, Part 1,” we discussed the need to consider professional counseling and, if domestic violence is part of the problem, to address that violence immediately. Besides helping with the legal complexities of divorce itself, a trained experienced attorney can assist with each of the other concerns.

Terminating marriage

We also listed the ways that Ohio statutes provide for ending a marriage: death of a spouse; presumption of death of spouse (a common-law provision requiring unexplained absence for seven years); annulment (relatively hard to obtain); no-fault dissolution of marriage or fault-based divorce.

No-fault dissolution

According to the Ohio Bar Association, dissolution of marriage differs from legal separation and fault-based divorce in that both parties file a joint petition, once agreement has been reached. Other details include the following:

A dissolution of marriage process may eliminate much of the divorce process and expense. Unlike a divorce, fault grounds are not at issue. Dissolution is often thought of as no-fault divorce.

A dissolution petition is not filed with the court until the parties have reached an agreement on all the issues that must be addressed in a divorce matter. Designation of a residential parent, parental rights, visitation, child support, spousal support, division of property, payment of debts, and payment of attorney fees must be considered in either case.

No subpoena power

While the parties are negotiating, there is no subpoena power available, so the parties must voluntarily trade information. Professionals can, however, be hired to evaluate property, etc.

When an agreement is reached and filed with the court, a hearing must take place within 30 to 90 days. Both parties must appear and testify that they are satisfied with the agreement; that they have made full disclosure of all assets and liabilities; that they have voluntarily signed the agreement; and that they both want the marriage dissolved. The court must also approve the parties’ agreement.

Avoids hearings and temporary orders

Because there is no court involvement until an agreement is reached, all the temporary orders and possible hearings that might occur in a divorce case are avoided. The end result of both a divorce and a dissolution of marriage is the same: the marriage is terminated.

Please, notice, however, that despite the lack of subpoena power, if one party decides to file for fault-based divorce, that party can use information that was willingly divulged during the no-fault negotiation discussions–yet another reason to have a compatible, experienced divorce attorney.

Note: Discussion of grounds for fault-based divorce continued in “Updated: Divorce in Ohio, Part 3.”

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