This is the 3rd installment in a series by Virginia Cornwell, a Columbus Ohio 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 series is about the process and options for ending your marriage in Ohio, and about Ohio divorce laws.
The other articles in the series can be seen here:
Sometimes there are valid reasons not to go the Dissolution route
To successfully negotiate a dissolution with your soon to be ex, at a minimum you need to be able to implement the old axiom “trust, but verify”. You may not particularly like your spouse at that point, but at a minimum you need to be able to trust that they are dealing with you fairly while negotiating terms to end the marriage. This may be difficult to do, especially where issues of deception led to the demise of the marriage. If one or both spouses kept secrets from the other during the marriage, it may make it difficult to negotiate a dissolution.
If you are able to successfully verify the finances of the marriage and both spouses, you may still be able to negotiate a dissolution. You may or may not need the help of a Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer to assist you in negotiating an acceptable agreement.
Remember, the marriage is ending. You no longer have to trust your spouse to be faithful. If your spouse was relatively honest with you during the marriage about finances, and will do all of the following, you may still be able to negotiate a satisfactory dissolution:
- Sign releases allowing you to investigate your spouses finances, at your own expense, for a period of time before and after the dissolution (for example up to one year after the dissolution)
- Put a clause in the Separation Agreement that if you discover assets not disclosed in the dissolution, they will give you one-half of the asset PLUS reimburse you in full for the expense and/ or attorney fees to discover the asset and enforce that provision of the Separation Agreement. (If you want additional incentive do disclose, you can agree that you get ALL of the asset, but usually there is a dollar amount attached to a clause like this, so that the clause is not used to harass each other over items of inconsequential value)
If, during the course of the marriage, your spouse was very secretive about money, you may have some very good reasons to consider pursuing divorce rather than dissolution. You should be concerned if your spouse behaved in the following ways during the marriage:
- Kept all financial documents under lock and key, and did not let you have access to them
- Discarded, shredded, or kept all or most of his or her financial documents in a place you did not have access to them
- Had some or all of their mail delivered to another address, such as a post office box, a relative, or to his or her office, and did not provide you with access to those documents
- Was controlling and/or secretive about financial matters
- Did not let you see his or her paycheck or documents relating to his or her employment
- Had meetings with financial planners, accountants or attorneys they did not disclose to you
- Created a trust without your input
- Transferred assets to family members
- Had a lock box or storage facility which you did not have access to
- Had almost exclusive control over the money in the marriage
It’s important to note that these concerns are not all equally important. For instance, in many marriages one spouse balances the checkbook and pays the bills. The concern comes when the other spouse did not have access to the information and/or the documents.
The reason a person who finds themselves in this situation may need a divorce rather than a dissolution is that in a divorce, a person has the following protections which are not available in dissolution:
- Temporary restraining Orders (See Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 75)
- Compulsory Discovery (See Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure 26-37 and 45)
- Court Orders which are imposed, rather than Agreed.
- If warranted, Emergency Custody Orders.
Even if you suspect your spouse IS hiding something financially, think about this – how much could they really be hiding? Consider their resources and income. They may be hiding an inheritance, but under the law of Ohio, an inheritance is separate property anyway. So if the most they could be hiding, based on their income during the marriage, does not exceed the cost you will pay for a a contested divorce, then it is probably not in your financial best interest to pursue it other than the release and Separation Agreement provisions described. But if the amount of money they could be hiding exceeds the cost of a potential divorce, then divorce may be your only option.
In addition, if you simply cannot reach an fair and appropriate agreement as to all matters, even with the help of mediation and/or your lawyer, then divorce is the only way you will be able to end the marriage.
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