» Family Law & Divorce

What is the difference between a dissolution and a divorce in Ohio?

In a dissolution, both spouses jointly ask the court to end their marriage. The spouses present their written agreement to the court, along with a petition asking the court to dissolve their marriage. The agreement must address all issues relevant to their marital relationship, including child custody, visitation, and support, as well as property division, debts, taxes, and fees. Then, the court must hold a final hearing on their petition between thirty and ninety days after it is filed.

In contrast, a divorce is an adversarial proceeding, in which one spouse files a lawsuit against the other, asking the court to decide all matters pertaining to the marriage. Even though one spouse may sue the other for divorce, most people reach an agreement without an actual trial. If no agreement is reached, the court will decide all of the unresolved issues.

What happens to property I inherited or had before the marriage?

Usually, this type of property will be considered non-marital property so long as it is traceable and has not lost its separate identity. However, if this approach would be unfair, the court may divide the property equitably. For example, if one spouse engaged in serious economic misconduct using marital funds, the court has the authority to make a distributive award to the other spouse out of non-marital property in order to achieve an equitable result.

Will a court order spousal support in my situation?

An Ohio court will look at a number of factors in deciding whether to award spousal support, including the length of the marriage; each spouse's earning capacity, age, and physical and mental condition; the standard of living the couple had during marriage; and so on. The court will also consider whether one spouse has limited income potential or career possibilities due to family responsibilities and whether the spouse with custody of the children will also be able to seek work outside the home.

If I did not marry the parent of my child, can I get child support or parenting time with my child?

Yes, once it is legally established that you are the child's parent. You can start the process through your county’s Jobs and Family Services agency or you can file a request for a paternity determination in juvenile court.

I am going through a divorce. Is it true that if my children are teenagers, they can choose to live with me?

Ohio law does not specify an age at which a child may choose his or her own living arrangements. Rather, the court looks at the custody issue on a case-by-case basis, and custody determination is based on the best interest of the child. A court may conduct an in-chambers interview with the child to discuss the child’s preference, but the child’s parents are not present at the meeting. And the child’s preferences are only one factor the court reviews, although generally, the older the child is, the more weight the court will give his or her wishes.