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Ohio Dissolution and No-Fault Divorce In Ohio: Four Important Facts

Virginia Cornwell is an Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist and a Columbus Ohio Dissolution Lawyer.  Approximately 100 attorneys in Ohio have received this honor. You  can view other articles in the Dissolution in Ohio series by clicking any of the following links:

So, you and your spouse have decided to peacefully end your marriage and you agree on how your assets should be divided.  Historically divorce, responsibility for the end of the marriage was assigned to one or both spouses by the court. Thankfully, today divorcing couples in Columbus and throughout Ohio have the option of choosing a dissolutioninstead of a traditional divorce.  A dissolution is a no-fault form of divorce where the parties agree on all the terms of ending the marriage.   While an Ohio dissolution lawyermight be your best guide to navigating a dissolution of marriage, here are some important, state-specific facts to consider before proceeding:

1. The court will not determine fault during a dissolution proceeding.

When you and your soon-to-be ex agree to move forward with a dissolution, you’re essentially agreeing to leave your marital disputes in the past.  The question of why your marriage failed will not be addressed, and neither party will be labeled as “guilty” or “at fault”.  Instead, the court will review and approve the terms of your marital termination.  Once an agreement has been reached and approved, your marriage will be legally ended.

2. There is only one way to obtain an official dissolution of marriage in the State of Ohio, but there are two ways to obtain a no-fault divorce.

In Ohio, there are two ways of obtaining a no-fault divorce.  One way is through dissolution.  During a dissolutionboth parties agree upon the terms of their separation and the court oversees their agreement.  The parties have to agree to incompatibility or some other grounds for the dissolution, but no other grounds or finding fault with either party.

A no-fault divorce can also be achieved if both parties agree to a traditional divorce proceeding, and agree to go forward as an uncontested divorce.  This differs from dissolution in that only one of the parties has to be present at the final hearing.  At a minimum, both parties must agree to one of the grounds for divorce.  If only one party is going to be present at the divorce hearing, depending upon the judge, incompatiblity may not be sufficient grounds.  However, if both parties signed the paperwork, The Judge will usually accept incompatibility as grounds for the uncontested divorce, and no fault need be assigned.  If the divorce is not uncontested, it is possible for one party to temporarily stall a divorce proceeding by simply refusing to admit that there are grounds for divorce.

3. A separation agreement must be drafted BEFORE appearing in court.

A dissolutionrequires cooperation from both parties involved in ending the marriage.  An agreement concerning the division of financial assets —property, spousal support, and child custody— must be reached and put to paper well before the assigned court date.

4. Hiring an Ohio dissolution lawyer before appearing in court can improve your odds of achieving a drama-free dissolution.

Too many people believe that hiring a divorce lawyerwill unnecessarily increase the level of conflict involved in a dissolution of marriage.  Quite the contrary, a qualified divorce lawyercan ensure that the terms of your dissolutionare reasonable, and properly drafted.  Most individuals have limited experience with the legal system, especially as it pertains to ending a marriage.  A dissolution lawyer is in a position to provide a solid foundation for your dissolutionbased upon years of education and first-hand experience.  A comprehensive, solid separation agreement and, if applicable, shared parenting plan, goes a long way toward eliminating unfortunate surprises, and protecting your financial security in years to come.