Updated: Divorce in Ohio, Part 1
Buckeye State allows no-fault dissolution and fault-based divorce
Experts and legal authorities advise both parties in a contemplated divorce to retain legal counsel, for at least an initial consultation to make clear their legal rights and risks. Even in an uncontested divorce in which both parties agree, experts say the Petitioner (or plaintiff, in some states, which call the Respondent the defendant) should have an attorney in order to ensure the filing is legal and the eventual decree enforceable.
Another thing to consider is professional counseling; many who go through divorce ("dissolution of marriage") report pain and grief equivalent to that of a death in the family. Even when both parties recognize the relationship has run its course, the emotional upheaval can be traumatic. A compatible, experienced attorney can help with appropriate referrals.
Furthermore, if the relationship includes domestic violence, that must be addressed in urgent fashion. Again, competent counsel can be invaluable not only in helping arrange shelter but also with filing protective orders and so on. Fortunately, residents of Ohio have a plethora of facilities and agencies to turn to, including these online resources:
- Supreme Court of Ohio and Ohio Judicial System;
- Ohio Legal Services (working with low-income residents), including emergency information;
- Ohio Shelters/Hotlines;
- Ohio Domestic Violence Network;
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Ohio facts;
- A.A.R.D.V.A.R.C.'s Ohio: Domestic Violence Resources page;
- The Cleveland and Cuyahoga County FAQ;
- Ohio domestic violence statutes.
The plaintiff (the one filing the complaint) must have lived in Ohio for at least six months and in the county where the action is filed for at least 90 days; alternatively, the suit may be filed in a county where the defendant has lived for at least 90 days. The venue is the domestic relations division of the common pleas court, unless the county has no domestic division, in which case the filing is made in the general division of the common pleas court.
Ohio couples, after a complaint is filed, can agree to terms of a legal separation; barring such agreement, the court can rule on the complaint, hear testimony, consider evidence then rule on matters such as child support, child custody, property and debt division, and so forth. The complaint, once residency requirements are met, can be converted to a divorce (or dissolution) action.
Ohio law provides for ending a marriage through death of a spouse; presumption of death of spouse (a common-law provision requiring unexplained absence for seven years); annulment (relatively hard to obtain); no-fault dissolution of marriage or fault-based divorce.
Note: Continued in "Updated: Divorce in Ohio, Part 2."
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