Updated: Divorce in Ohio, Part 3
No jury trials--all cases handled by judge(s)
In Part 1 and Part 2, we discussed:
- benefits of an attorney;
- referrals for counseling;
- addressing domestic violence, including a thorough list of online resources;
- residency requirements;
- legal separation;
- termination of marriage, including no-fault "dissolution of marriage."
According to Ohio Legal Services:
A husband or wife may file a complaint for divorce in the domestic relations division of the local common pleas court or, if there is no domestic relations division, in the general division of the common pleas court. The complaint must allege, and the plaintiff (party filing the divorce complaint) must later prove, one or more of the following legal grounds for divorce:
- gross neglect of duty (e.g., failure to support the other spouse);
- one of the spouses was already married to another person at the time of their marriage to the second spouse (bigamy);
- willful absence of the spouse from the plaintiff's home for a continuous one-year period preceding the filing of the divorce case;
- extreme cruelty;
- fraudulent contract (fraudulent misrepresentations or promises made to the other party before the parties' marriage);
- habitual drunkenness;
- imprisonment of the other spouse.
According to the Ohio State Bar:
The divorce proceeding begins with the filing of a complaint. Following this, divorce "papers" are served to the other party, but the divorce cannot be granted for at least six weeks after the other party is legally notified. This six-week time period is a cooling-off time that allows the parties to carefully reconsider the termination of their marriage.
A party to a divorce may request the court to grant temporary orders to be in effect while the case is pending. The goal in issuing temporary orders is to preserve the family's status quo, both financially and as to responsibilities to any minor or handicapped children. In many cases, there is insufficient income to support separate households. Temporary orders include those for designation of residential parent and allocation of the parental rights and responsibilities of minor children, child support, spousal support, and payment of attorney fees and litigation expenses.
A party also may be ordered to refrain from physically and verbally harassing the other, and to keep marital assets intact so that the court can divide them as part of its final orders.
Throughout the divorce process, hearings may take place to determine the merits of temporary requests or to make a party comply with the court's temporary orders.
Discovery powers, subpoenas
While a divorce case is going on, each party has the right to find out about all property, marital or not, owned by either or both parties. Professionals are often brought in to determine the value of assets such as real estate, businesses, and pension plans. These professionals can be brought into court through the use of subpoenas.
No jury divorce trials; three-judge panel for appeals
In Ohio, there are no jury divorce trials. Divorce cases are either settled by agreement of the parties or tried before a trial judge or magistrate. If a case is settled, the agreement becomes the court's order. One or both of the parties may obtain the divorce without lengthy testimony about the grounds for the divorce, and it may not be necessary for more than one party to appear at the final hearing.
If a divorce case is contested all the way through a trial, and one or both parties are unhappy with the court's decision, an appeal may be filed with the court of appeals. A three-judge panel will review the court's decision.
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