Divorce laws in Ohio are similar to most other state’s and allow both at fault and no fault as sufficient grounds for divorce. Residency requirements do differ from most states that allow a person to file for divorce in either the state where you or your spouse lives though, with Ohio requiring anyone filing to be an Ohio resident for at least six months and a county resident for at least 90 days.
In Ohio, the spouse seeking a divorce must first file a complaint and summons at the courthouse in the county where they live, and then serve notice of the complaint to the other party in the divorce. The spouse receiving the notice, also known as the respondent, must respond in writing with a response to the complaint. The notice and response must be completed in a court of law before a divorce case in Ohio can move forward. If the responding spouse fails to respond or cannot be located, the divorce court may allow the spouse filing the complaint to publish notice of the complaint in a newspaper. If service of the complaint notice cannot be completed at all, the court can decide to rule in favor of the petitioning spouse without contact with the missing spouse at all. A judgment entered in favor of the petitioner when the other spouse is absent is called a default judgment.
Ohio is a community property state when it comes to property division in a divorce. Community property division allows the state courts to divide real property and assets acquired during the marriage, not property acquired prior to the marriage. Property owned by either spouse prior to the marriage is considered separate personal property and will revert to the person who owned it in the first place during a marital split. The court can decide if one spouse needs financial support and can grant requests for spousal support to meet basic living needs and maintain the lifestyle enjoyed prior to the divorce dispute.
If both parties in an Ohio divorce are in agreement about the split and can work out the details of property division, child custody, visitation and support on their own, they may be eligible for the Simplified Divorce Procedures program that is recognized by state law. The simplified program streamlines the time, procedure and costs of an Ohio divorce and can make the whole process much smoother. Couples interested in the simplified program should note there are separate and strict deadlines that must be followed in order to qualify for and complete the program. Failure to comply with the deadlines can cause the simplified program to be rejected by the court.
One of the court’s primary concerns in Ohio is the welfare and best interests of any dependant children involved in a divorce. The court will ultimately decide which parent will have custody of the children, but also takes into consideration the express wishes of the children to ensure that the right choices are made. The court will decide how much child support is to be paid based on calculations in the Ohio Child Support Guidelines. The court will also sometimes issue temporary orders to help make sure the financial, educational, and emotional needs of minor children are met, and that their lives are not negatively impacted during the divorce.
In determining child custody arrangements, the Ohio courts will take the following factors into consideration:
- The children’s best interests
- The children’s wishes and requests
- The parent’s wishes
- The child’s relationships with family and friends
- The child’s attitude at home and school
- The health of the child
- Parent’s failure to meet any court instructions
- Abuse or neglect by either parent
Once all the terms, orders and conditions set forth by the court have met, the judge will sign a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage and your Ohio marriage will be formally and legally terminated.