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Grounds for Divorce Under Ohio Divorce Laws

The first thing you should know about Ohio’s divorce laws are the two available methods for breaking up a marriage. The first is a simplified divorce, which may be undertaken if both of you come to an agreement on all the necessary terms – such as division of property, alimony, and what to do with any children you may have together. If you are both able to agree to all terms, you may jointly file a petition for dissolution of marriage. 

Both of you must sign the petition attach a separation agreement providing for division of property, spousal support, allocation of parental rights, visitation and custody, and child support.  You must then both appear before the court. If the court is satisfied with  your testimony, you’ll be granted a dissolution of marriage.

If you can’t agree on all of the details mentioned above, you or your spouse may file for a divorce under any of the following grounds according to Ohio divorce laws:

  • Bigamy
  • Abandonment of one party for one year
  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Fraudulent contract (this means one or both of you lied or withheld important information in order to “trick” the other person into marriage)
  • Gross neglect of duty (in Ohio, this means one of you intentionally denies support of any kind to the other despite being capable of doing so)
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Imprisonment of the adverse party
  • One spouse obtains a divorce outside the State, which releases that person from the obligations of marriage while the obligations remained binding on the other person
  • Living separate and apart without co-habitation for one year without interruption
  • Incompatibility of the parties

Residency Requirements

The person filing for divorce must be a resident of the State of Ohio for at least six months. You must also be a resident of the county in which the complaint is filed for at least 90 days immediately prior to the filing of the complaint.

Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties

The place where you file for divorce is called the Court of Common Pleas. The one who is filing for the divorce is known as the Plaintiff. The other party is the Defendant.  If you are filing for dissolution of marriage together, you are known as Co-Petitioners.

The action that starts the divorce process is called a Complaint. The action that starts the process for dissolution of marriage is called a Petition.  The action that finalizes a no-fault divorce is called the Decree of Divorce. In contested cases, a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is entered to finalize the divorce. 

Legal Separation

Legal separation in the State of Ohio may be granted based on the same grounds as for divorce in accordance with Ohio divorce laws.

Alimony

The court will make a decision of alimony after careful consideration of the following factors:

  • The income of the parties
  • The relative earning abilities of the parties
  • The ages and physical, mental and emotional condition of the parties
  • The retirement benefits of the parties
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The extent to which it would be inappropriate for a party to seek outside employment due to custody of a minor child
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The relative extent of education of the parties
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the parties
  • The contribution of each party to the education, training, or earning ability of the other party
  • The time and expense necessary for the spouse seeking alimony to acquire education, training or job experience to enable that spouse to obtain appropriate employment
  • The tax consequences to the parties
  • The lost income production capacity due to marital responsibilities
  • Any other factors the court deems appropriate and relevant to making this decision

Distribution of Property

The court will divide marital property between the two of you after consideration of the following factors:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The assets and liabilities of the spouses
  • The desirability of awarding the family home, or the right to reside in the family home for reasonable periods of time, to the spouse with custody of the children of the marriage
  • The liquidity of the property to be distributed
  • The economic desirability of retaining intact an asset or an interest in an asset
  • The tax consequences of the property division upon the respective awards to be made to each spouse
  • The costs of sale, if it is necessary that an asset be sold to effectuate an equitable distribution of property
  • Any division or disbursement of property made in a separation agreement that was voluntarily entered into by the spouses
  • Any other factors the court finds to be relevant

Child Custody

The court will award custody to one or both parents based on many factors, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • The wishes of the child’s parents
  • The wishes of the child
  • The child’s interaction and interrelationship with parents, siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school and community
  • The mental and physical health of all involved
  • Which parent is more likely to honor and facilitate court-approved parenting time rights or visitation and companionship rights
  • Whether either parent has failed to make all child support payments, including arrearages
  • Whether either parent has been convicted of a criminal offense that resulted in the child being an abused or neglected child
  • Whether the residential parent has continuously and willfully denied the other parent’s right to parenting time in accordance with a court order
  • Whether either parent has established a residence or is planning to establish a residence outside of the State of Ohio

Child Support

After the court issues or changes a child support order, the next step is for the court to calculate the amount of the monthly child support obligation in accordance with the basic child support schedule.

Mediation

Where children are involved, the court may order the parties to take part in family counseling during the course of the proceedings or for any reasonable length of time.

Name Change

The court shall, upon request, allow for restoration of any name used prior to the marriage.

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