Divorce in Ohio

Divorce in Ohio | How to Get a Divorce & Process (Guide) 2024

According to Ohio law, a husband and wife have three options for ending or changing their marriage: legal separation, divorce, and dissolution of marriage. (A fourth option, annulment, won’t be covered in this article.) You must reside in Ohio for at least six months prior to filing for a dissolution or divorce.

Legal divorce petitioners are not required by law to have resided in Ohio for a specific amount of time prior to filing. The rights of non-parents, such as grandparents, are referred to by the phrases visitation and companionship. The time parents spend with their kids is referred to as parenting time.

A civil lawsuit to dissolve a marriage is called a divorce in Ohio. The parties file a petition to make the ultimate decisions about child custody, property division, and alimony.

To begin a divorce, one spouse, known as the plaintiff, files a complaint with the court clerk. The plaintiff must assert and ultimately establish the proper statutory grounds for divorce in the complaint. With your lawyer, go over the statutory justifications and the relevant circumstances.

The court clerk “serves” a copy of the petition and summons the defendant’s other spouse. Typically, services are delivered personally or through certified mail. If it is unclear where the defendant resides, a court summons will be printed in a newspaper.

Parents Name
Wages & Income
Non-Custodial Parent
Custodial Parent

This technique of publication service is successful in securing a divorce decree but is typically unsuccessful in securing orders regarding issues like spousal or child support. After receiving the complaint and summons, the defendant has 28 days to file an answer in response to the complaint.

In a counterclaim, the adversary may ask for separation and list the grounds that, in his or her opinion, support the request. A reply is submitted by the plaintiff in answer to the counterclaim.

The majority of divorce disputes are ultimately resolved by agreement. The parties prepare, sign, and submit a prospective divorce decree to the court for approval. The agreement is accepted by the judge following a brief hearing, and then it becomes a legal agreement.

Evidence is produced in a contested trial if the parties are unable to reach an agreement on all of their disputed points. The court will consider the evidence presented by the parties and base its conclusion on Ohio law.

Residency Requirements for Divorce in Ohio

As long as you adhere to the state’s marriage license criteria, you can get married in any state, even if you don’t live there.  However, there are more rigorous standards for dissolving a marriage. Instead, until you can apply for divorce in a state’s courts, you must satisfy the citizenship criteria of that state.’

The partner who applies for divorce in Ohio must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to making the lawsuit in order to be eligible for divorce.

For one of the couples to be awarded a dissolution of marriage (the difference between a “dissolution of marriage” and a “divorce” is discussed below), they must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to filing the complaint).

State residency laws are intended to stop one spouse from relocating to another state in order to “shop” for a judge or court that will evaluate their case more favorably. Furthermore, due to residency laws, a partner cannot file in a different state from the other in an effort to make it more difficult (and costly) for the other partner to reply and cooperate.

What is the dissolution of marriage?

When both partners decide to end their marriage, it is called a dissolution of marriage. A marriage can be dissolved without either spouse having to provide justification. The husband and wife sign a separation agreement that details all assets, spousal support obligations, and any child-related matters before jointly filing for divorce. The court must hear the matter within 90 days of filing, but the parties must wait at least 30 days from filing before that time.

The court will analyze the separation agreement, inquire about the parties’ finances and parenting arrangements, and make a determination as to whether they are aware of and satisfied with the settlement at the hearing. The separation agreement will become a court order if the court determines that the parties are in agreement and wish to dissolve their marriage.

Also, read: Grandparent’s rights in Ohio.

Grounds for Divorce in Ohio

Ohio is the only state that distinguishes between “divorce” and “dissolution of marriage”; hence its divorce laws are distinctive. Dissolution is the same as a divorce in all other states. In a word, if you and your husband can’t come to an agreement on any of the divorce’s key issues—like property distribution and child custody—you must file for divorce. Only when you and your spouse are in complete agreement on all topics can you file for divorce.

Ohio Dissolution of Marriage

In Ohio, there are conditions that partners must fulfill in order to obtain a divorce. The petition for divorce must be signed jointly by the parties, and they must also submit a sample legal separation for the court to consider included in the decision. The severance contract must cover:

  • split of all assets and liabilities
  • spousal assistance
  • visitation and custody of children (if there are minor children)
  • if there are any minor children, the classification of a “residential parent” and “legal guardian.”
  • child assistance (if there are minor children).

Both parties are required to show up for the court proceeding on the application for dissolution.

Because the couples have previously reached an agreement on all the matters related to ending their marriage, dissolutions are often quicker and less expensive than divorces.

Marriage dissolutions in Ohio are typically concluded between 30 and 90 days after the complaint is filed by the parties.

Ohio Divorce

You must petition for divorce if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on any matter pertaining to your marriage. There are 11 grounds (reasons) for divorce listed under Ohio law:

  • At the time of the marriage, either partner had a husband or wife who was still alive.
  • The partner who isn’t asking for a divorce departed voluntarily for at least a year.
  • Adultery.
  • Shocking harshness.
  • Deceptive agreement (when one spouse misled, withheld information, or engaged in other dishonest behavior to influence the other spouse to get married)
  • A flagrant breach of duty.
  • habitual intoxication
  • Imprisonment of the non-filing spouse at the time the separation is filed in a state or federal jail.
  • In a different state, the other partner granted the filing of the couple’s divorce.
  • The couple has been living separately but not together for a year.
  • Incompatibility (unless one of the spouses denies that the couple is incompatible).

The divorce will be referred to as “fault-based” if one partner files for divorce for one of the first nine reasons mentioned above. This implies that the partner who files the divorce must demonstrate that the other partner engaged in the wrongdoing that resulted in the dissolution of the marriage.

Incompatibility and living apart for a year are the only two “no-fault” grounds for divorce. This implies that the spouse filing the divorce need not establish that the other spouse did something wrong to bring about the dissolution of the marriage. However, the filing spouse will need to present an extra reason for the divorce if the non-filing spouse rejects the other’s claim that the pair is incompatible.

You can state in your application that some or all of these factors contributed to the breakdown of your marriage, but you only need to provide evidence for one of them. It can be beneficial to list two or more grounds in your appeal in case you are unable to prove one of them.

The much more common cause given for divorce in Ohio is an incompatibility between the parties. It’s the most straightforward course of action if the other spouse doesn’t object: Due to the lack of contention over who was to blame for the breakdown of the marriage, no-fault divorces frequently finish quicker than fault-based divorces.

In Ohio, divorces take longer than dissolutions; they typically last at least four months and occasionally even longer—up to two years. Additionally, divorces are more expensive since the parties must establish the grounds for the divorce and frequently pay attorneys to argue their case in court.

Divorce Filing Fees in Ohio

You must spend court filing fees on starting a divorce or dissolution of marriage, as with most legal actions. The filing costs vary by the county in Ohio; for additional information, speak with the clerk of the court where you intend to file.

In most counties, a divorce or dissolution filing cost of $300 to $400 is required as of 2021. Additionally, if the couple has minor children, the filing fee may be higher in some jurisdictions.

You can request the judge to waive the filing costs if you are financially unable to do so. The court is required to waive your costs if your income is equal to or less than 187.5 percent of the federal poverty line. You may still apply for a waiver even if you are not eligible for this required one; the judge will then determine whether to approve your request.

Serving Your Spouse in Ohio

You must inform your partner of the divorce after filing the necessary paperwork. (Since both parties sign and submit the application, you won’t need to send your partner notice of the divorce.)

When you file the petition in Ohio, you can ask the court to serve the papers. You can typically choose between having your partner served personally by the sheriff or by certified mail with itemized receipt desired. Because certified mail is less costly, most individuals choose it.

To ensure that your spouse was properly served, you must check in with the clerk. You can approach the court for permission to serve your spouse in a different way if you are unable to do so because you don’t know where they are or they are dodging service. “By publication,” which usually implies that the court will permit you to publish notice of the divorce in a newspaper, is a typical alternative way of service.

What to Expect in an Ohio Divorce

In contrast to several states, Ohio doesn’t require a “waiting time” before the judge can begin processing your divorce. However, a dissolution of marriage has a 30-day waiting period; the court cannot grant the dissolution until at least 30 days have passed.

Even if you’re seeking a divorce or a dissolution, you’ll almost certainly have to appear in court for at least one hearing. The court in a divorce may also set hearing dates for any motions (requests) you or your spouse submit.

Property Division in Ohio

Since Ohio is an equitable division state, the courts will split the couple’s assets and liabilities equitably, though perhaps not evenly.

The judge will first decide whether a piece of real estate is marital or separate property. It is up to the spouses to establish that something is not marital property because judges assume that any property obtained by either partner after the marriage is marital assets.

The judge will next split marital assets “equitably” by considering:

  • How long the marriage has lasted
  • Assets and debts of the couple
  • Whether the spouse with child custody should be given the family home
  • The property’s marketability
  • The value to the economy of maintaining an asset
  • The tax implications of divorce for both spouses
  • If it’s essential to sell an item in order to disperse it, the costs of sale
  • Any separation contract that specifies how to divide property
  • Pension benefits,
  • Any additional element that the court specifically deems to be pertinent and equitable.

Mediation as a Divorce Alternative

Not every divorce requires protracted court challenges. When there are outstanding difficulties, mediation may be a less acrimonious and more affordable divorce option than rushing to the courthouse to file for divorce.

A skilled and impartial third party known as a “mediator” meets with both spouses during mediation. Each spouse will have the chance to discuss their concerns and offer solutions during the private mediation sessions. A mediator’s role is to facilitate conversations so that the parties can settle their divorce without the need for court involvement, not to make decisions in the case.

If you and your spouse agree on all or some of the issues during the mediation, the mediator can draft a divorce settlement agreement for you to file to the court. You and your couple’s outstanding disagreements will be resolved by the court.

Mediation is typically considerably less expensive than going through a full divorce trial, and it can help you and your husband lay the groundwork for ongoing communication even if you can only agree on one or two points.

Separate mediation with a private mediator is an option for divorcing spouses. While a divorce is proceeding in court, some jurisdictions’ laws mandate that divorcing spouses undergo mediation. “Court-ordered mediation” is what is meant by this. Judges in Ohio have the option to recommend a divorce case for mediation.

Finalizing a Divorce in Ohio

The magistrate will sign a “Decree of Divorce” to complete your divorce. You will receive a “Decree of Dissolution of Marriage” if you have filed for divorce in Ohio. The decree will outline the specifics of your divorce, including the division of assets, child custody arrangements, and spousal support. As of the date, the judge signs the divorce decree, it is legally final.

Following its entry into the court’s records, your final divorce decree will probably be provided to you in copy. The court clerk can also provide you with a certified (official) copy of the judgment.

The decree will also act as the order restoring the spouse’s previous name if one or both partners request that their names be restored back to what they were before marriage.


How long do you have to be separated before divorce in Ohio?

You must reside in Ohio for at least six months prior to filing for a dissolution or divorce. Legal separation petitioners are not required by law to have resided in Ohio for a specific amount of time prior to filing. The terms visitation and companionship allude to the rights of non-parents, such as grandparents.

How long does the Ohio divorce take?

According to the Ohio Supreme Court’s rules, it should take a contentious divorce between a year and 18 months to complete. However, you can’t always plan for it.

What is the fastest way to get a divorce in Ohio?

Online divorce is a quick and simple way to get a divorce in Ohio. An internet divorce may be one of the cheapest solutions if you wish to file for an uncontested divorce in Ohio.

What is a legal separation?

While a formal separation does not dissolve a marriage, it does provide the court the authority to make decisions about how to divide property, provide spousal support, and distribute parental rights and responsibilities (including parenting time and child support). Despite living apart, the couple continues to be married. Each party is required to abide by the court’s particular instructions when the legal separation is granted. The legal procedures are very similar to those for a divorce.

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