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How long do you have to live in the state of Ohio and your county before you can file for divorce, annulment or legal separation?

columbus divorce lawyer, divorce lawyer, annulment lawyer, franklin county family law attorney, franklin county family lawyerVirginia Cornwell is a Franklin County Ohio Divorce Lawyer, Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer, and Ohio State Bar Association Family Relations Specialist.  

You do NOT have to have been married in Ohio to end your marriage in Ohio.  Where you file your divorce is about residency.


In Ohio, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 3105.03 states that The plaintiff in actions for divorce and annulment shall have been a resident of the state at least six months immediately before filing the complaint.  Note that Ohio Revised Code 3105.03 does not mention legal separation or dissolution.

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 If you want to file a divorce, annulment or legal separation in Ohio, the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure tell you which county to file in and how long you have to live there to file:

RULE 3. Commencement of Action; Venue

(B) Venue: where proper.

(9) In actions for divorce, annulment, or legal separation, in the county in which the plaintiff is and has been a resident for at least ninety days immediately preceding the filing of the complaint;

Neither ORC 3105.03 or Civil Rule 3 place restrictions regarding the filing of dissolutions.

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franklin county annulment attorney, franklin county legal separation attorney, franklin county divorce lawyerNeed some help? We would be happy to schedule a consultation with you.  Please give us a call, and one of our Family Law Attorneys will meet with you to discuss your case.

franklin county legal separation lawyer, columbus legal separation lawyer, columbus annulment lawyer

Virginia Cornwell is an Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist.

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How long do I have to wait to get a divorce, annulment or legal separation in Ohio?


(K)  Hearing.  No action for divorce, annulment, or legal separation may be heard and decided until the expiration of forty-two days after the service of process or twenty-eight days after the last publication of notice of the complaint, and no action for divorce, annulment , or legal separation shall be heard and decided earlier than twenty-eight days after the service of a counterclaim, which under this rule may be designated a cross-complaint, unless the plaintiff files a written waiver of the twenty-eight day period.

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Clear as mud, right?  To understand the rule you have to break it down a little bit.

First, no divorce, annulment or legal separation can have it’s final hearing earlier than 42 days after the Defendant was served with the Complaint.

Second, if the Defendant filed a counterclaim, then the final hearing cannot be held earlier than 28 days after the service of the counterclaim.

This is the fastest that anyone can get a divorce, annulment or legal separation in Ohio.  You should know that unless both parties are cooperating, this is not a realistic timeframe.  Even if the parties are cooperating, there may need to be extra time factored in to accommodate the schedules of the parties, the court and the attorneys.

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DIVORCE LAWYER, DIVORCE LAWYERS IN COLUMBUS OHIO, FAMILY LAWYER,  FAMILY ATTORNEYS IN, A FAMILY LAWYER, FAMILY LAW LAWYERS, FAMILY LAWYERS, OHIO DIVORCE LAWYER, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYSDoes this still sound complicated?  We would be happy to schedule a consultation with you.  Please give us a call, and one of our Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyers will meet with you to discuss your case and

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Can you get a divorce in Ohio while pregnant (or a dissolution, annulment or legal separation)?

Virginia Cornwell is a Columbus Ohio Family Law Attorney who assists clients with family law matters throughout Ohio.

COLUMBUS OHIO FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYSTrying to end your marriage in Ohio can be difficult if the wife is pregnant.  Difficult, but not impossible.

Ironically, the difficulty does not come from any obstacle in the law, but rather from the practices in your county, or from the preferences of the Judge in your case.  Ohio law does not contain any authority for a Judge or Magistrate to refuse to grant a divorce, dissolution, annulment or legal separation on the basis of pregnancy.  Nevertheless, for several reasons, many Ohio courts will delay granting the divorce (or ending the marriage) if the wife is pregnant.

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COLUMBUS OHIO DISSOLUTION ATTORNEYOne reason that Ohio courts will sometimes decline to grant the divorce until the child is born is so that child support will be established.  The court does not want the child to go without support for several months while paternity is established and support is ordered through the child support enforcement agency.

Another reason the court may be reluctant to grant the divorce while the wife is pregnant may be that the Judge does not want the mother and father to have to go through yet another court action to establish parentage, support and parental rights.   In such cases, it is possible that the domestic court believes that if the paternity is not established in the divorce case, that the father will have to seek parental rights in a juvenile court case.  The domestic court Judge may also be concerned that if the father has to file a separate action in juvenile court to establish paternity of the child, he will be disadvantaged.  For various reasons, unmarried fathers in Ohio juvenile courts sometimes have to work harder to receive the same rights they would receive in domestic court.

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DIVORCE ATTORNEY COLUMBUSHowever, Ohio Revised Code 3111.06(A)  states:

If an action for divorce, dissolution, or legal separation has been filed in a court of common pleas, that court of common pleas has original jurisdiction to determine if the parent and child relationship exists between one or both of the parties and any child alleged or presumed to be the child of one or both of the parties.

This would allow the domestic relations court to retain jurisdiction over the parents for purposes of establishing paternity of the unborn child.  The statute does not limit such jurisdiction only to the divorce proceedings.  Thus, there appears to be no legal reason the court cannot grant the divorce now, and deal with paternity, support and parental rights later, on a post-decree basis in the domestic court (divorce, dissolution, annulment, or legal separation) case.

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DIVORCE LAWYER COLUMBUSIf the parties want to get divorced NOW, and do not want to wait until the child is born, there may be some steps the parties can take to convince the court to approve the divorce.

First, the issue of whether a Judge will or will not grant a divorce while the wife is pregnant often boils down to the preferences of the individual Judge (and possibly Magistrate) assigned to your case.

Second, the level of cooperation between the parties may have some influence on whether the Judge will trust that the issues of paternity, support and parental rights will be dealt with quickly after the child is born.  There are several ways the parties can cooperate to assure the Judge there is no reason to hold the case open.

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  • DISSOLUTION ATTORNEY COLUMBUSIf the husband and wife know that the husband could not possibly be the father of the baby, they should stipulate to this fact in the divorce decree.  The court can then make findings rebutting the legal presumption that the husband is the father and “disestablish paternity” in the divorce decree.
  • The parties can give the court stipulated findings of fact that contain all information needed to make a child support order.
  • COLUMBUS PATERNITY LAWYERThe parties could bring a post decree motion to establish paternity, support and parental rights of the child to the court for filing on the day of the divorce decree, file the motion on the day of their final hearing, and set the first hearing date to occur in front of the same judge a few weeks after the child’s due date.  If either of the parties wants genetic testing, they could agree to the manner in which the genetic testing will be done.  If the parties use a private service for the testing, they could have the results before they attend their first hearing.

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COLUMBUS DISSOLUTION ATTORNEYYou might wonder how courts can just decide to hold a divorce case open for many months against the parties’ wishes.  First, domestic courts have broad discretion.  They cannot just do anything they want, but they can do a lot.

Second, even if a party were to try to take the issue up the court of appeals, babies develop faster than appellate courts make decisions.  By the time your case was heard in the court of appeals, the baby would be born, rendering the issue on appeal moot.

Third, even if somehow the court of appeals agreed to hear your case quickly, I’ll say it again:  domestic courts have a lot of discretion in Ohio.  They are probably going to be allowed to do what they think is best in this case.

An Ohio family law attorney can help you decide what is the best course of action in your case.

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You may also be interested in some of our other divorce articles:

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Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer on Divorce in Ohio Part 1: Before You End Your Marriage – Is Legal Separation, Reconciliation or Conciliation Right for You?

This article is the first article in a series by Virginia Cornwell, a Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer and Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist.  Virginia is one of approximately 100 attorneys in Ohio to receive this honor.  The series is about the Ohio divorce process. To read some of the other articles in the series, click the links below:

Before you decide to end your marriage, you will want to consider all of your options.  The first installment in this series discusses options which do NOT end the marriage.  The remainder of the series will discuss ending the marriage, and the legal, procedural and practical issues that are involved in ending the marriage.  Specifically, the remainder of the series discusses divorce.


If reconciliation of the marriage is possible, many people find that they require support from one or more of the following resources to be able to reconcile.

  • Counseling
  • Clergy
  • Support Groups


If your spouse will not participate in counseling, and you want them to participate in counseling, you can ask the court to order your spouse to participate in counseling with you, but there’s a catch.  The court can only order this counseling if one of the spouses has already filed a dissolution, legal separation, annulment or divorce.  This process is called Conciliation.  To read more about Conciliation, see Ohio Revised Code 3105.091.

If no children are involved, the court can order counseling for a period of time no longer than 90 days.  If children are involved, the court can order family counseling as long as the case is pending or for any reasonable period of time.  The court can refer the parties to any of the following:

  • public or private marriage counselors
  • family service agencies
  • community health services
  • physicians
  • licensed psychologists or
  • clergy

If the court orders counseling the court MAY name the counselor, and MUST specify

  • the type of counseling
  • the length of counseling
  • how the counseling shall be paid for
  • any other condition or consideration required with the counseling.

If the court does choose to order conciliation, the case cannot be finished until the terms of the court’s order have been met and this has been reported to the court.

Although the court has authority to order counseling between a husband and a wife, it is rarely done except in cases where children are involved. This is probably because counseling to reconcile the marriage is unlikely to be effective if one or both parties are unwilling to participate and are only there by court order.  In addition, many insurance companies will not pay for counseling that is court ordered.  Nevertheless, the law is still in effect in Ohio.


To learn about Legal Separation in Ohio, see our article about Legal Separation by clicking the link below:

If one or both parties have decided that the marriage must end, see the remainder of our series “Divorce in Ohio” for an explanation of the many issues associated with divorce.

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, AnnulmentAlimony (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


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Legal Separation in Ohio

Legal Separation in OhioColumbus Ohio Legal Separation Attorney article about legal separation in Ohio.  Virginia Cornwell is an Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist.

In order to file for Legal Separation in the state of Ohio, one of the following statutory grounds must exist:

(1) Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage from which legal separation is sought;

(2) Willful absence of the adverse party for one year;

(3) Adultery;

(4) Extreme cruelty;

(5) Fraudulent contract;

(6) Any gross neglect of duty;

(7) Habitual drunkenness;

(8) Imprisonment of the adverse party in a state or federal correctional institution at the time of filing the complaint;

(9) On the application of either party, when husband and wife have, without interruption for one year, lived separate and apart without cohabitation;

(10) Incompatibility, unless denied by either party.

Legal Separation Lawyers in ColumbusThe question a person must ask themselves before filing for Legal Separation is – what is it you hope to accomplish?  People have many reasons for asking about it, but often find out that it does not provide the solutions they hoped for.

COLUMBUS OHIO LEGAL SEPARATION ATTORNEYSSome people hope that they will somehow get their spouse’s attention them and force them to deal with marital difficulties.  Unfortunately, the spouse who has been unwilling to deal with marital difficulties for years rarely changes their ways once a complaint for legal separation has been filed.  Instead, they are more likely to respond with a counterclaim for divorce and end the marriage.  Take it from a divorce lawyer – legal separation is no way to save a marriage.

Others seek legal separation because their religion does not condone divorce.  Unfortunately, most religions that abhor divorce also abhor adultery.  So unless a life of celibacy is the plan, religous problems are still an issue with legal separation.

Columbus Legal Separation LawyerOccasionally people seek legal separation because they cannot continue to live with their spouse but wish to continue to provide health insurance or other benefits which they can only give to a spouse.

Whatever the reason, people considering legal separation must ask themselves this question:  If my spouse agrees to a legal separation, how long am I willing to live in limbo before deciding that I must seek a divorce?  A divorce may mean a second round of litigation and attorney fees.

Before filing, people should consider whether they want to save their marriage, end their marriage, or put it on long term hold.

Columbus Ohio Legal Separation or Divorce AttorneysYou may also be interested in our “Divorce in Ohio” series by a Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer and Columbus Ohio Divorce Attorney about the process and options for ending your marriage in Ohio, and about Ohio divorce laws.

The first five articles in the series can be seen here, but there are many more:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5

In addition to the installments in the 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.

AdulteryAnnulmentAlimony (Spousal Support)Best Interest of the ChildChild CustodyChild 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),ContemptDissolutionDivorce BasicsDivorce MythsForeclosure MediationGrandparentsGuardian ad LitemHouseHow Long Your Divorce May LastInternational AbductionMediationMovingPacket of Forms vs. Getting a LawyerPrenuptial Agreements (Antenuptial Agreements)Shared ParentingTemporary OrdersTemporary Orders AffidavitsWhere to File for Divorce