Common questions about getting a divorce in Ohio

Common questions about getting a divorce in Ohio

There are many reasons why couples get divorced. From heartbreaking actions like infidelity to simply falling out of love (it’s not you, it’s me). As local divorce attorneys, we get questions all the time about divorce, dissolution, legal separation, and more. Here’s a general overview of the most common questions on getting a divorce in Ohio.

What is the difference between a divorce and a dissolution?

Technically, a divorce is a legal dissolution of the marriage, but Ohio makes a specific distinction between the two terms. In short, if one spouse is blaming the other for the split, it’s a divorce; if neither spouse is claiming the other is at fault, and the parties agree on all the issues that must be addressed, it’s a dissolution.


As you can imagine, a dissolution of marriage is the easier, faster and less expensive route to take. Both parties fill out detailed paperwork, including a settlement agreement, prior to filing a joint petition with the court. The settlement agreement outlines how the property, assets and debts will be divided, along with parental rights and responsibilities if the couple has children together.

Even though a dissolution is a mutual action, each spouse should have their own attorney review the documents prior to filing a Petition for Dissolution to make sure everything is written as agreed. The final hearing must take place within 90 days of filing so a dissolution moves quick.


Divorce, on the other hand, is often more controversial. When a spouse files for a divorce, he or she must have a valid legal ground such as absence for more than a year, gross neglect of duty, adultery, alcoholism or abuse, and the divorce is not granted unless the accusation is supported by a witness and proven.

After one party files a complaint, the other person is “served” divorce papers and can either contest or agree. Usually, each party in a divorce proceeding has their own attorney. Depending on how long it takes for both parties to agree on a settlement, divorce proceedings can last up to a year, or longer.

What is an uncontested divorce?

When a spouse files a complaint for a divorce and the other spouse agrees to both the divorce and the settlement terms, this means he or she is not contesting, or opposing, the divorce.

How much does it cost to get a divorce?

Since every divorce is different, so is every price. There are several factors that can impact the cost of getting a divorce in Ohio, such as:

The complexity of your case

For example, if you have a lot of assets and/or debts to be divided.

If you have children

For example, if there are custody or child support disagreements.

If you just can’t agree

For example, if you can’t reach an agreement and your case goes to court.

What happens if my spouse and I can’t agree on the divorce settlement?

In this case, many Ohio courts will require you to work with a mediator.

Is there a no-fault divorce in Ohio?

To file a no-fault divorce, you must cite a non-blaming ground for divorce of either incompatibility or voluntarily living separately for at least one year.

What are the grounds for divorce in Ohio?

In Ohio, there are two no-fault grounds (mentioned above). At fault grounds include:

  • A spouse was married to someone else at the time of the marriage
  • Willful abandonment/absence for one year
  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Fraudulent contract – a spouse misrepresented themselves prior to the marriage
  • Gross neglect of duty –failure to perform marital obligations (respect, fidelity, etc.)
  • Habitual drinking or drug use
  • Imprisonment

What is a legal separation?

When a married couple want to live separately but not end their marriage, they may choose to get a legal separation. Reasons people opt for separation over a divorce include maintaining medical insurance coverage for a spouse and/or kids, or religious beliefs. A settlement agreement is prepared in the same manner as a dissolution, where assets, property and debts are split up and parenting rights and duties are outlined. The couple can then live their lives separately, while still being legally married.

Do I need to get a legal separation?

If you and your spouse are considering a divorce but you’re not completely sure, a legal separation allows you to distance yourselves from each other and experience what it’s like living apart.

What is a collaborative divorce?

To avoid a potentially lengthy court dispute, both spouses agree upfront not to go to court. Rather than leaving it all up to a judge or magistrate, with collaborative law the couple maintains control of making the important decisions that will impact their family. Each spouse has their own attorney and the group meets together to resolve issues and determine the settlement terms.

Can my spouse and I share an attorney in our divorce?

Technically, yes; but it is not recommended. Why? If a lawyer represented both parties in a divorce, the lawyer would have a conflict of interest that goes against the code of ethics. Even if both spouses agree to the settlement terms, and seem to be amicable, it’s best to have your own attorney. Our Zanesville attorneys can represent you in divorce cases.

How are assets and debts divided in a divorce?

Ohio law requires equitable distribution of marital assets to ensure each spouse gets what’s fair in a divorce settlement. This doesn’t necessarily mean everything is divided equally, it’s more a matter of fairness. Different factors are considered when dividing assets and debts; for example, the length of the marriage, if one spouse will remain in the family home after divorce, the financial benefit of keeping assets over selling them, etc.

Unfortunately, divorces, dissolutions and legal separations happen to couples every day. If you have questions about getting a divorce in Ohio, or need to hire a divorce attorney, contact Gottlieb, Johnston, Beam & Dal Ponte.