It may sound simple, but in reality, it’s usually anything but. It’s often very complex and complicated. Divorce includes all of the issues regarding the disposition of joint property and assets, spousal support, child support, and child custody. During a divorce, these decisions will be worked through with your attorney, and ultimately decided upon or approved by the Court.
Are you an Ohio resident?
In order to file for divorce in Ohio, you must have lived in the state at least 6 months. Only residents of the state of Ohio who meet that criteria may file for divorce in this state.
Types of divorce
In Ohio, a marriage can end either by divorce or dissolution. While both serve to end the marriage, they vary greatly when it comes to how long the process takes, how expensive it will be, and how contentious the process becomes.
If you are seeking a divorce, you must have grounds for divorce in order to file. Although there are nine legally recognized grounds for divorce in Ohio, in the majority of cases you will see the cause listed as “incompatibility”. If the parties disagree over the divorce itself, the grounds for divorce, or any of the terms, then you will need to go through the full divorce process.
Regardless of the grounds for the divorce, the court will attempt to divide your assets equitably, so the end result will be the same, whether there was adultery committed or some other legally recognized reason to file. Even a divorce that begins as a divorce for fault can be granted on grounds of incompatibility by the agreement of both parties.
A dissolution of marriage also legally ends the marriage, but it’s usually less complicated and less expensive than divorce. In order to seek a dissolution instead of a divorce, both parties generally agree to grounds of incompatibility, and must also agree on the issues of spousal support, the disposition of joint property, child support, and child custody. All of these agreements are reached prior to filing for dissolution with the court. You might also hear this referred to as “no-fault” divorce.
If there is even one issue on which the parties cannot reach an agreement and you cannot resolve it through mediation or negotiation, you will need to go through the divorce process instead of a dissolution. This means you will have to take the proceedings to a court trial to let the judge decide. However, if you are able to reach an agreement with your spouse and continue with a dissolution instead of a divorce, the only time you should have to step inside the courtroom is to have the judge finalize the settlement.
You may start out in agreement on the grounds of incompatibility and plan on filing for dissolution, only to reach an impasse in some area of your settlement. When this happens, your dissolution may suddenly end up with one party filing for divorce and going to trial. This is why it’s best to hire an experienced divorce attorney at the outset, even if you think you and your spouse can reach a settlement.
How long will this take?
It’s helpful to know going in how long you can expect a divorce to take. Your future plans might be put on hold while you are in the process of a divorce. It can delay the purchasing of new homes or vehicles, moving away, or even formalizing a new relationship.
The more issues on which you are able to agree, the easier and faster the process will be. In Ohio, the court’s timeline for a divorce with no children is 12 months, and a divorce that involves minor children may take up to 18 months. Of course, these timelines are generalities; your divorce might be finalized earlier or take longer, depending on your circumstances.
During the divorce process, your divorce attorney will file motions for temporary court orders to cover things like temporary child custody, temporary child support, and temporary spousal support, if needed. This can help provide financial relief for one party in the event of income inequality, and it ensures that both parents are receiving parenting time with the children until these issues can be finalized by the court when the divorce is granted.
Temporary orders are just that – temporary. It doesn’t mean the court’s final order will be substantially similar to the temporary orders. The court will have to review all of the relevant information first before they can reach a final decision on appropriate spousal support, child support, child custody, or joint property disposition. They will want to review all of the financial records and any other documentation to ensure their decision is just. Your attorney will collect all of this information during Discovery.
What is Discovery?
Discovery is the name for the process that allows your attorney to request and receive information from your spouse and his/her lawyer. It’s a legal term for fact-gathering. During this time, it’s possible that subpoenas might need to be ordered, depositions may be taken, and documents will be produced. And just as you and your divorce attorney are entitled to all of the relevant information from your spouse, your spouse is also entitled to yours. Completing this process of discovery will ensure that you’re fully prepared for the divorce negotiations and it will help you paint a complete financial and parental picture of your marriage for the court.
Once discovery is complete, negotiations will begin. It is vital that you have an attorney who specializes in divorce during this time. An experienced divorce lawyer will help you pick your battles, knowing what the court tends to favor in certain situations. Should you settle on that amount of spousal support or push back? A divorce expert who knows the local courts can tell you if you’re getting a fair deal, or if the court’s final order tends to vary significantly from the amount on the table. Knowing when to fight and when to settle is half the battle in divorce negotiations, so it’s best to have a lawyer who specializes in family law and divorce.
ON YOUR SIDE
The experienced divorce lawyers at Kirkland & Sommers don’t play favorites. We represent both husbands and wives, moms and dads, defendants and plaintiffs. We’ve helped military couples, LGBTQ couples, newlyweds and couples who have been married seemingly forever. Divorce happens to all kinds of families, and regardless of which side you’re on, we can help. We don’t take a side… we take your side.
What to expect at your free Consultation
If you’re confused about the best way to file, don’t worry! At your free consultation, your divorce attorney will listen to the particulars of your marriage and situation. We will explain the various grounds for divorce to help you determine if any of those meet your basis for filing a divorce. After we discuss your marriage and why it’s ending, we will outline what your options are, and together we can decide on the next steps.
Divorce can be painful, emotional, and scary. We understand. And we know that most people don’t have a lot of experience navigating the legal system. Our lawyers practice only in family law and divorce, and together we have handled thousands of divorces in our 100+ years of combined experience. We are familiar with all of the local court systemsin the greater Dayton and West Chester, Ohio areas.We’ll listen to you, explain your options, and give you the information you need to develop a plan. And we’ll be by your side as we put that plan in action.
Let us help you get ready to start the next chapter of your life. Schedule a free consultation with one of our divorce lawyers today.
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