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Ohio Dissolutions And Divorces: Which Is Right For You?

When you decided to get married, you probably spent time considering the best way to propose and build a happy life for yourselves. Now that you’re thinking about going your separate ways, it’s just as important to plan ahead. Ohio offers multiple ways to end your marriage, including divorce and dissolution – but they’re not exactly the same. Determining the process that is right for you is a critical early step.

At Wolinetz | Horvath | Brown, our lawyers work hard to clarify family law for those in need of legal help. We’re firm proponents of the idea that lack of knowledge shouldn’t stop you from making sound decisions about your divorce, and we feel equally passionate about providing tenacious representation to those who need it in central Ohio.

Our attorneys are happy to review your situation, discuss your options and guide your case in the right direction, whether that means dissolution or divorce. We take great joy in providing clients responsive advisement that lets them know they’re not alone – and we’ve come to the aid of many parting couples to ensure that they can move forward in life comfortably.

What’s The Difference Between Dissolution And Divorce?

While both dissolution and divorce are means to the same end, they are dramatically different legal processes. Here are some of the key differences:

  • Grounds: In Ohio, you can’t get a divorce unless you have a cause that the court accepts as valid, such as if your spouse was unfaithful or abusive. Evidence is required to support a fault-based divorce. While a divorce can be filed on no-fault grounds after a period of at least a year of living apart, dissolution does not require grounds and is strictly no-fault. You do not need a legal reason for a dissolution.
  • Living apart: Except in situations where there are fault-based grounds, divorce requires that spouses live apart for at least a year. However, dissolution does not require living apart and can be more immediate.
  • Timing: Divorce begins with filing a divorce complaint. Once it is served to the other spouse, there is a six-month waiting period. Then there are a variety of legal processes, including a hearing if the divorce is contested. This can be very time-consuming. Dissolution, on the other hand, requires no waiting period. It is only filed after agreements have been reached. After it is filed, there is a hearing within 30 to 90 days, and then the process is complete. For this reason, dissolution tends to be faster than divorce.
  • Agreements: In a dissolution, agreements about things such as property division and child custody must be reached in order to move forward. If the spouses cannot reach an agreement, they will not be able to proceed with a dissolution. In divorce, spouses may still reach agreements, but in failing to do so they can have a judge resolve disagreements in a hearing. The method for reaching agreements is different in each process as well. In dissolution, spouses must voluntarily exchange information about income and other important factors. In divorce, there is a legal mechanism called discovery that can be used to force the other party to provide needed information.
  • Temporary orders: In a divorce, a spouse may request temporary orders. These orders may be for temporary child support or child custody arrangements, or they may be placed to prevent the other spouse from spending money or getting rid of assets pending the division of property. Requesting temporary orders typically requires hearings. In a dissolution of marriage, such matters are agreed upon and temporary orders are not an issue.
  • Hearings: A divorce may require many hearings along the way, addressing temporary orders and other issues. If divorcing spouses cannot reach agreements, a hearing will be required for a judge to decide on an outcome for them. Dissolution usually only has one hearing, the final hearing for the judge to review and finalize the petition for dissolution. The marriage is then dissolved.

Should I File For Divorce Or Dissolution?

In situations where the parties are able to amicably terminate their marriage, a dissolution offers a more expedient and cost-effective solution, when compared to a divorce. Since a dissolution is a cooperative process, dissolution matters may be finalized much faster than divorce cases. A final hearing may take place as soon as thirty days after filing a dissolution. If the parties wish, the case may transfer to a retired judge for a private dissolution hearing at an attorney’s office or in a different location chosen by the parties. This allows for greater convenience in scheduling, as well as a more private and comfortable environment for the final hearing.

Unfortunately, parties often cannot come to agreeable terms on the termination of their marriage. Oftentimes, individuals know their spouse well enough to determine ahead of time that attempting an agreement before filing would not be a fruitful endeavor. In these instances, filing for divorce can help get the process of terminating the marriage started faster than spending time and resources on attempting settlement first.

What Are The Residency Requirements?

As in the divorce process, there are residency requirements for a dissolution. At least one of the parties must have resided in Ohio for at least six months. Individual counties within Ohio also have residency requirements. Other factors may also influence which county is the most appropriate place for you to file. Your attorney will consider all of the relevant factors and will help you determine which county is the proper venue for your case.

What To Know About The Dissolution Process

If filing for a dissolution, in addition to other legally required paperwork, spouses must first reduce their agreement to writing in a document called a separation agreement. If there are children and one spouse keeps sole custody of the children, the terms regarding children will also go into the separation agreement. If the parties agree on joint custody of the children (referred to as shared parenting in Ohio), there will be an additional separate document known as a shared parenting plan that the parties will also reduce to writing and sign.

Once you finalize and sign all of the agreements, the request for a dissolution will be filed with the court. The court will then schedule a final dissolution hearing, which will occur thirty days or more after filing the request with the court. This minimum thirty day waiting period is a requirement for a dissolution in Ohio.

Until the final dissolution hearing, the signed separation agreement acts as a contract between the parties but is not yet a court order. At the final hearing, the judge will sign a separate document called a decree which will then make the separation agreement an order of the court. If problems arise between the parties after the termination of the marriage where one spouse does not follow the terms of the agreement, the court will be able to enforce the noncompliant party to follow the terms of the previous agreement.

Helping You Explore Options For Ending Your Marriage

There are clearly pros and cons for both divorce and dissolution, and they may vary depending on your specific situation. Further, divorce and dissolution aren’t the only means of terminating a marriage in Ohio. You can also obtain an annulment – a process that renders the union invalid – due to problems that existed before the marriage. Or you can pursue a legal separation where you live apart from your spouse even though you don’t want to end the marriage due to religious beliefs or financial circumstances.

Our lawyers work to help you come to terms with your spouse so you can meet the requirements that work best for you. By equipping you with knowledge about the legal necessities and procedures, we give you the power to end your marriage without worrying about whether you’ll regret the decision later.

Take The Next Step To The Next Stage In Life

No matter how you decide to move onto the next stage of your life, Wolinetz | Horvath | Brown is prepared to work for you. Send us an email us today or talk to our Columbus staff about your divorce, dissolution, annulment or legal separation by calling 614-362-8847. Let us help you obtain the positive results you deserve.