Fault & No-Fault Divorce In Ohio – The Process To End A Marriage
Need A Divorce Attorney In Columbus Ohio?
If you and your spouse are getting divorced, whether it is a fault or no-fault divorce, you’ll want to speak to an experienced divorce attorney near you at Joslyn Law Firm. We’ll review your situation closely and discuss a plan that fits your unique needs. Joslyn Law Firm’s divorce attorneys provide you with the following information on fault and no-fault divorces in Ohio and why it is important to have an attorney on your side defending your interests and protecting your rights. To learn more, contact our office today at (614) 420-2424 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation near you.
Overview Of Fault & No-Fault Divorce In Ohio – The Process To End A Marriage
- Fault And No-Fault Divorces Near You In Ohio
- Pathway To Divorce
- Meet Basic Residency Requirements
- Find An Attorney
- Consider Your Options
- File A Complaint In The Proper County Courthouse, Service, and Response
- Initial Case Management Conference
- Complete Court-Ordered Mediation
- Pre-Trial And Status Conferences
- Trial And Court Order
- Post-Decree Divorce Lawyer
- Hiring An Award-Winning Divorce Attorney Near You In Ohio
Fault And No-Fault Divorces Near You In Ohio
For decades, the nationwide divorce rate has been the subject of many discussions and debates. Despite a decline in divorce rates nationwide, it remains a common life event. Divorce today is also a far more socially accepted practice, as opposed to the 1970s and 1980s when divorce was considered an event indicative of failure. Although there is greater social acceptance, it continues to be a legally complex and emotionally stressful experience. Those in the middle of a divorce can feel alone and helpless, but it truly requires a team effort to help someone cope with the emotions and legal difficulties that accompany a divorce. An experienced marriage divorce lawyer can help.
The divorce process in Ohio may follow several paths. Key factors that determine the direction of this path include:
- Whether the divorce is based on fault grounds or no-fault (uncontested divorce) grounds;
- Whether the spouses can resolve their issues with a settlement agreement; and
- The amount of court intervention.
The reasons for divorce have changed over the last several decades. Prior to the 1980s, most states required a person seeking a divorce to provide some grounds for divorce with sufficient evidence to support it. If a reason, such as domestic violence, could not be supported by evidence, the request would be denied, and the person wanting a divorce was obligated to remain married.
Under many state laws, these “fault divorces” still provide spouses the option of seeking divorce using one of these reasons (grounds for divorce). Ohio law continues to have fault divorces and allows a married person to seek divorce under the following grounds:
- Willful absence of one spouse (Abandonment);
- Extreme cruelty;
- Fraudulent contract;
- Gross neglect of duty;
- Habitual drunkenness;
- Imprisonment of the other spouse;
- The spouses lived apart for at least one year;
- The other spouse filed for divorce in another state and, as a result, is released from their marital obligations; and
- The husband or wife of the spouse who filed a complaint was alive at the time of marriage where divorce is now requested.
A spouse who disagrees with a fault-based reason can respond with a counterclaim and deny the allegation if they want to remain married.
Like all states, Ohio has incorporated no-fault divorces into its domestic relations statutes. A no-fault divorce means that the spouses both agree that they have become incompatible, and neither believes the marriage can be saved. Some other states have called this “irreconcilable differences,” while others call it “irretrievable breakdown.” If a spouse files a no-fault divorce proceeding, the other spouse can respond and agree to incompatibility but still dispute other issues. Whether you file for fault or no-fault divorce, you must know and understand which documents apply to your case. Once you know the grounds for your divorce, the proceedings that follow are generally the same.
Pathway To Divorce
1. Meet Basic Residency Requirements
There are basic requirements that every person must meet before filing a complaint for divorce. You must have lived in Ohio for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. To file in a particular county, you must have lived in that county for at least 90 days before filing. The spouse who responds to the complaint does not need to meet these requirements.
2. Find An Attorney
Although divorcing couples do not technically need to hire an attorney, the failure to do so can lead to various struggles caused by self-advocacy, including serious misunderstanding of the law and your rights in a divorce case, severe inequities in property distribution, missed deadlines, and the filing of incorrect court documents. Even couples with simpler divorces can make serious errors that have long-term impacts. A divorce attorney skilled in family law and divorce (including at-fault divorce or no-fault divorce) matters can help you avoid these errors, even if you do not need legal representation for an extended time during the divorce proceeding.
At Joslyn Law Firm, our family law attorneys have worked with many clients in many different, unique situations. From amicable to high-conflict divorce cases, we will listen to your story and provide you with the legal representation that you would expect from a top law firm. For two years in a row, Joslyn Law Firm was voted a 10 Best law firm for client satisfaction. Led by managing attorney Brian Joslyn, an award-winning attorney for his trial skills and a Rising Star for Super Lawyers, you can feel confident that Joslyn Law Firm will deliver the best representation our area has to offer.
3. Consider Your Options
When couples decide to divorce, they are usually unaware of their available options. Your attorney can explain these options to you and potentially save you substantial time and money. The Joslyn Law Firm offers an initial free consultation so that you may learn more about divorce at no cost. If you and your spouse want a divorce, consider whether you believe court intervention is required to resolve your disputes. As an alternative, mediation or a collaborative family law approach might be more appropriate for your case. Your divorce attorney can help you consider these options, and you might change your mind as the case progresses. This is also a good time to work with your attorney and form a plan about divorce issues that are important to you. Common issues include:
- Child support;
- Custody and parenting time;
- Spousal support; and
- Allocating debts and assets.
Although it might be tempting to file for divorce immediately after deciding that you and your spouse want to terminate the marriage, it is wiser to wait until you have considered all your options so you correctly know which documents to submit in your case.
4. File A Complaint In The Proper County Courthouse, Service, and Response
You must file a complaint in the county where you have resided for at least 90 days. For example, suppose you and your spouse share a home in Franklin County, and you have lived there for several years. If you recently moved to a different county, such as Delaware County, you must still file in Franklin County if you wish to file a complaint less than 90 days after moving.
You will file your documents with your county’s Court of Common Pleas. You will usually have the ability to e-file your documents or submit them in person. Because attorneys use the e-filing system daily, you can rest assured that our legal team will promptly file your documents on your behalf.
When you file your complaint, you must arrange for a summons and a copy of the complaint to be served on your spouse. In Ohio, the initial service is normally completed by certified or express mail. Whether you are the person filing or the one receiving service of documents, the law provides the spouse receiving the summons and complaint 14 days to respond. At this point, the divorce proceeding has started.
5. Initial Case Management Conference
At this initial conference, often called an “ICMC,” both spouses and their divorce attorneys must be ready to meet with the judge and discuss preliminary issues relevant to the divorce. In this semi-formal conference, the attorneys will address possibilities for settlement and list any remaining disputed issues. The court will set deadlines for discovery and mediation and, if necessary, address any other important matter or need. These may include determining temporary custody of minor children, limiting the other parent’s parenting time, or prohibiting certain activities of the spouses.
Discovery is the process of a party exchanging information with the other party in preparation for mediation or trial. Discovery is ongoing until the discovery deadline. Information often included in discovery is financial, such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, monthly budgets, as well as other assets like a family home and vehicles. Discovery also includes finding information about the other spouse, such as hidden assets. If there are concerns about substance abuse or the relationship with the child, the discovery process can reveal many facts about either party.
It is expected that both spouses will comply with the discovery process to avoid delays. If either spouse is believed to be withholding information during discovery, either party can file a motion to demand discovery from the other side. A judge will decide whether the demanding party is entitled to the information.
7. Complete Court-Ordered Mediation
Under Ohio law, Divorcing couples with children can be court-ordered to attend mediation to settle disputes about child custody and parenting time. The law provides for this option because courts and judges strongly prefer that parents resolve disputes related to their children. In mediation, the parents have the opportunity to candidly discuss their concerns and goals for custody and parenting time under the guidance of a neutral mediator. If mediation is successful, the parents can submit a shared parenting plan for the judge’s review and approval. If mediation is unsuccessful, the parents return to the court, and child custody and parenting time will remain disputed issues. Divorcing couples without children cannot be ordered to mediate their disputed issues. However, many couples still choose to attempt mediation because of its many benefits.
8. Pre-Trial And Status Conferences
If you were unsuccessful or did not attempt mediation, your case will proceed, and pre-trial conferences will regularly occur. At pre-trial conferences, the parties exchange information and discuss any issues related to discovery. They also address the admissibility of potential evidence at trial. Depending on the complexity of the case and any remaining disputed issues, there may be only one pre-trial conference or several.
9. Trial And Court Order
Although some family law cases get to the trial step, most will completely settle all issues before this occurs. Even if cases proceed to trial, the parties will likely have reached a partial agreement on some issues and only have a few remaining to address. Trials can last a few hours or several days, depending on the case. After the judge has heard the evidence and the trial ends, the judge will issue an order setting forth his or her decisions on the relevant issues.
Post-Decree Divorce Attorneys
Divorced spouses usually hope they never need to return to court to address disputes that occur after their divorce is final. These disputes are often called “post-decree” issues. These types of disputes typically include:
- Modifications of child support;
- Modifications of child custody and/or parenting time schedules;
- Contempt proceedings; and
- Temporary or emergency orders.
Post-decree disputes require the party requesting relief to file a motion and supporting affidavit. The other party must be served with the motion and provided with notice of the upcoming court date. Like a divorce case, the opposing party has a defined time to respond. Post-decree motions are extremely important and can have long-term effects on both parties. However, they are far less time intensive than a complete divorce case. After the parties appear for their hearing and make their arguments, the judge will issue an order.
Hiring An Award-Winning Divorce Attorney Near You In Ohio
Whether you are looking to file for divorce or need to respond to divorce papers, a divorce lawyer near you at Joslyn Law Firm is ready to review your case and discuss a plan moving forward that fits your situation and feels right to you. With years of experience in trial preparation, courtroom representation, mediation, settlement negotiations, and other divorce proceedings, our Columbus Ohio divorce attorneys are prepared to serve the needs of every client. For legal assistance or more information about our legal services (including fault or no-fault divorce), call our divorce lawyers today at (614) 420-2424 to schedule your free consultation or contact us online.
Reviews Of Fault and No-Fault Attorneys
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