The Difference Between Divorce and Dissolution

divorce and dissolution

In Ohio, a couple who wishes to end their marriage can do so through divorce or dissolution of marriage. To be eligible, the couple must have lived in Ohio for at least six months before filing.

Divorce and dissolution of marriage are both ways to end a marriage in Ohio. Both require that the parties determine the terms of separation and address property division, payment of debts and spousal support, and payment of attorney’s fees. If the couple has children, they must address child custody, visitation, and child support payments.

Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage

Divorce and dissolution of marriage are two ways to legally end a marriage. Deciding which one is right for you will depend on your circumstances and, ultimately, the extent to which you and your spouse can agree on the terms of the property settlement and matters of custody and support. If you can’t agree, divorce is your only option.


In a complaint for divorce, one party must allege that, with one exception, the other party was at fault for causing the end of the marriage. Allegations of fault, also known as grounds for divorce in Ohio, can include:

  • Either party had a living spouse at the time of the current marriage
  • Willful absence from the marriage for one year
  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Gross neglect of duty
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Imprisonment
  • Either spouse received a divorce outside of Ohio

The one ground for divorce that is an exception to the “fault” requirement is incompatibility, which is Ohio’s version of “no fault” divorce. But both parties have to agree that they’re incompatible or the court cannot grant a divorce on this basis.

When you file for divorce in Ohio, you are telling the court that (1) you and your spouse are incompatible and (2) your spouse’s actions caused the breakdown of the marriage. Your spouse can contest the reason for divorce, so you must be able to prove your spouse’s conduct through testimony and evidence. Generally, if both parties agree they are incompatible, the court will grant the divorce on that ground.

When you file for a divorce, you acknowledge that you and your spouse cannot agree on certain aspects of the termination of your marriage. You are asking the court to decide how to divide your property, award spousal support, and rule on issues concerning the care, custody, and support of your children.

Because you must allege fault as the ground for divorce, and because you and your spouse will not have agreed to a settlement of all the issues, divorce is more adversarial than a dissolution of marriage. But in some cases it may be the only option, especially if you do not meet the requirements for a dissolution of marriage.

Most cases of divorce are ultimately resolved through settlement even though there is not agreement as to all issues at the start of the case. Through the process of litigation, the parties work towards an agreement. If an agreement is reached, their lawyers prepare a proposed divorce decree that memorializes the settlement and that is signed by the parties and submitted to the court for approval.

If the parties do not agree, the remaining issues will be heard by a judge who will make decisions about any unresolved issues.

Dissolution of Marriage

To be eligible for a dissolution of marriage, the parties must agree on all property, support, and custody matters. You and your spouse must also agree on how your assets and debts will be divided, child custody and child support arrangements, and spousal support payments.

If you and your spouse agree on all aspects of a dissolution of marriage, you will file a joint settlement agreement, a shared parenting plan (typically) that deals with parenting issues, including schedule and child support, and petition for dissolution of marriage.

One advantage of a dissolution of marriage is that the parties decide what is best for them and their family. Another is that it typically involves much less conflict than a contested divorce proceeding. Unlike a divorce, you do not need to state grounds for divorce if you choose a dissolution of marriage.

RKPT: Lessening Your Burden Through Thoughtful Legal Advice

Deciding to end a marriage is difficult and stressful. The decisions you make today will have a lifetime effect on you and your family.

At RKPT, our divorce and family law attorneys have the experience, expertise, and compassion to help you navigate divorce or dissolution of marriage and make decisions that will benefit you and your family. We understand how difficult these decisions can be and are committed to lessening your burden by providing thoughtful, detailed advice. We will take time to listen to your concerns, explore your options, and meet your needs with personalized, practical, and creative solutions.

We invite you to learn more about our divorce and family law services and to contact us today to discuss how we can help.

Additional Resources

Categories: Divorce