This is the 2nd installment in a series by Virginia Cornwell, a Columbus Ohio Dissolution and Uncontested Divorce Attorney and Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist. Virginia is one of approximate 100 attorneys in Ohio to have received this honor. This article is about the process and options for ending your marriage in Ohio, and about Ohio divorce laws.
So you’ve decided to end your marriage. Is dissolution right for you, or do you need a divorce?
In Ohio if you want to end your marriage, there are three ways to do it: Annulment, Dissolution or Divorce. Legal Separation does not end your marriage. If you and your spouse have concluded that you must end your marriage, and your marriage is legally valid, you should give serious consideration to dissolution. The reasons that dissolution is a better choice than divorce are numerous:
- It is faster. You get your Decree within 90 days of filing.
- If you use a private judge for your final hearing, you don’t have to go to the courthouse.
- It costs less. Unbelievably less. That savings could be used to help both of you start your new life.
- You have more control. The decisions are made between you and your spouse, not a Magistrate or Judge.
There are some obstacles with dissolution. If people are at the point of ending their marriage, then making joint decisions together is not always an easy thing. In addition, sometimes people can agree on some issues, but not others. For example, they might be able to agree on who gets the house and takes the mortgage, but not on issues regarding the children, remaining assets and debts, etc. If you can’t reach agreement on everything, there are options you can and should explore before you decide to file for divorce.
For example, if you are able to communicate with your spouse on issues regarding ending the marriage, but you just can’t find a middle ground on some points, mediation can help. If communication with your spouse is too stressful for you right now, you can each hire an attorney to help you negotiate a dissolution. You can still move toward resolution without the stress of discussing the issues with your spouse directly.
If you decide to negotiate through attorneys, and want to be able to end your marriage through dissolution or uncontested divorce (reach a settlement in your divorce case), it’s important to keep your eye on the prize. Divorce costs a lot more money than dissolution. You can either give that money to your lawyer or split it with your spouse.
Remember – YOU are the boss. If your attorney doesn’t have the same goals as you – reaching agreement on as many issues as possible, then it is up to YOU to put things back on track with your attorney or find a new attorney. It is unethical for an attorney to refuse to convey a settlement offer you want to make, or to withhold a settlement offer that was made to you. It is also unethical for your attorney to lie to you, or on your behalf. You should be in the front seat of your legal team, not the back seat.
Even if the husband, the wife and both attorneys approach everything with a winning attitude, sometimes the husband and wife can reach agreement on some issues, but not ALL issues. At this point, it’s important not to “throw the baby out with the bath water”. Rather than turn things into a “winner take all approach”, you should give STRONG consideration to writing a binding agreement as to the things you agree upon. Issues of property, debts and spousal support can be put into a Separation Agreement. Once the Separation Agreement is signed, both parties should expect to live with the agreement, and either party can file a Motion to have it enforced in a Divorce.
It is possible and perfectly legal to file for Divorce, file an Agreed Entry regarding matters that are agreed, and litigate ONLY over the things which you cannot agree upon. Narrowing the scope of contested issues will save you money and time. Also, agreeing upon at least SOME issues tends to keep things moving in the right direction – a resolution which YOU decide for yourself, rather than a decision which a court imposes upon you. If, after filing for divorce, you are able to reach agreement upon the remaining issues, perhaps as a result of guidance by the Judge or Magistrate, then your divorce becomes an uncontested divorce, and your attorneys can arrange to have an uncontested divorce hearing. If your attorney won’t agree to such a meeting, consider having a meeting with your attorney discuss whether you and your attorney have the same goals and expectations.
The other articles in the series can be seen here:
In addition to the other installments in this Divorce in Ohio Series (see links at top of the page), you may also find the following topics, which relate to divorce, to be helpful.
Adultery, Annulment, Alimony (Spousal Support), Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody Jurisdiction, Child Support (deviation), Child Support (how much), Child Support (how to pay), Child Support (lower), Child Support (myths), Child Support (resources), Child Support (sign up),Contempt, Dissolution, Divorce Basics, Divorce Myths, Foreclosure Mediation, Grandparents, Guardian ad Litem, House, International Abduction,Legal Separation, Mediation, Moving, Packet of Forms vs. Getting a Lawyer, Prenuptial Agreements (Antenuptial Agreements), Shared Parenting,Temporary Orders, Temporary Orders Affidavits, Where to File for Divorce