Ohio Divorce FAQ

Divorce – State FAQ – Ohio

Residency requirements, venue and procedures

Q: How long must I have lived in Ohio prior to filing for divorce or dissolution in an Ohio court? (Divorce is a contested civil lawsuit when the parties cannot agree to property distribution, child custody, etc., while Dissolution is a simplified procedure where the spouses agree to all issues and file a joint petition and separation agreement.)

A: In actions for divorce in the State of Ohio, the filing party must have resided in the State of Ohio for at least six months immediately prior to the filing of the complaint. In addition, the filing party must have resided in the county in which the complaint is filed for at least ninety days immediately prior to the filing of the complaint.

In actions for dissolution of marriage, the filing party must have resided in the State of Ohio for at least six months immediately prior to the filing of the petition for dissolution.

Q: What are the terms used to identify the parties in a divorce or dissolution proceeding?

A: The filing party is known as the Petitioner if the action is for dissolution and the Plaintiff if the action is one for divorce. The other party in an action for dissolution is referred to as the Co-Petitioner, and if the action is for divorce, the Defendant.

Q: What is “venue,” and what is the proper venue for a divorce case?

A: “Venue” refers to which type of court and in what locality the case is filed. Actions for divorce and dissolution of marriage are filed in the Court of Common Pleas. The complaint or petition should be filed in the county where the plaintiff (or petitioner) lives.

Q: What is the title of the document initiating the action for divorce or dissolution? The order granting the divorce or dissolution?

A: The title of the action initiating an action for divorce is a Complaint, while the title of an action initiating an action for dissolution of marriage is a Petition. The title of the action granting the divorce is a Decree of Divorce, and the title of the action granting the dissolution of marriage is a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

Grounds for divorce or dissolution

Q: What is meant by “grounds for divorce”?

A: A “ground” for divorce is a “reason” for divorce. A set of judicially recognized reasons for divorce exist in Ohio. You must use one or more of these reasons to justify your divorce.

Q: What are the recognized grounds for divorce in Ohio?

A: The State of Ohio permits judgments of divorce or dissolution of marriage to be granted upon the following grounds:

1. Bigamy
2. Willful absence of the adverse party for one year
3. Adultery
4. Extreme cruelty
5. Fraudulent contract
6. Gross neglect of duty
7. Habitual drunkenness
8. Imprisonment of the adverse party
9. Procurement of a divorce outside the State by a party which releases the party who obtained it from the obligations of marriage while the obligations remained binding on the other party
10. Living separate and apart without cohabitation for one year without interruption
11. Incompatibility of the parties.

Simplified divorce procedure

Q: Does Ohio law provide for a simplified divorce procedure?

A: Yes. It is called “Dissolution of Marriage.” If the parties agree to all terms, they may jointly file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The petition must be signed by both parties and have attached a separation agreement providing for division of property, spousal support, allocation of parental rights, visitation and custody, and child support. Both parties must appear before the court and if the court is satisfied with the parties’ testimony and the terms of the agreement, the court will grant the dissolution of marriage.

Spousal support/alimony

Q: What does the term “spousal support” (or, “alimony”) mean?

A: “Spousal support” (sometimes called “alimony”) is money paid by one spouse to the other due to the payee spouse’s loss of the benefit of the payor spouse’s income due to the divorce.

Q: Is spousal support available while the divorce is pending in court, or only after the divorce has become final?

A: The court may order that one spouse support the other during the pendancy of the divorce action and/or after the divorce has become final. Support awarded pending the final decree of divorce is not to extend beyond the period of time necessary for the prosecution of the divorce action.

Q: What factors will the court consider when determining how much alimony to award to a party?

A: Either party may be ordered to pay alimony to the other spouse after consideration of the factors listed in the divorce information section of the Ohio Divorce Main Page

Property Division

Q: On what basis does the court decide how marital property is divided?

A: Ohio is a so-called “equitable distribution” state. This means that the division of property and debts between the divorcing parties should be fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal. In making a division of marital property, the court shall consider all of the following factors:

1. The duration of the marriage
2. The assets and liabilities of the spouses
3. The desirability of awarding the family home, or the right to reside in the family home for reasonable periods of time, to the spouse with custody of the children of the marriage
4. The liquidity of the property to be distributed
5. The economic desirability of retaining intact an asset or an interest in an asset
6. The tax consequences of the property division upon the respective awards to be made to each spouse
7. The costs of sale, if it is necessary that an asset be sold to effectuate an equitable distribution of property
8. Any division or disbursement of property made in a separation agreement that was voluntarily entered into by the spouses
9. Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.

Q: Is the “separate property” of one spouse subject to being divided up?

A: The question here is whether property “belonging to” one of the parties should be included in the marital estate for purposes of an equitable division. Generally, separate property acquired before the marriage or by gift or inheritance during the marriage may be excluded from the marital estate if neither the property nor its income has been used for the common benefit of the parties during their marriage.

Q: What if the parties occasionally use an item of separate property (for example, silver table utensils inherited by the wife) for the benefit of both parties?

A: The property may be subject to division. Where the parties regularly use property acquired by one party before marriage for the common benefit of the parties, it is more likely to be available for consideration in dividing property. The frequency of use may be considered by the court in making the decision.

Child custody and visitation

Q: What is child custody and visitation?

A: “Child custody” refers to which parent will have legal custody of the child(ren), i.e. with whom the child(ren) will live. “Visitation” is the topic of the non custodial parent’s ability to visit/spend time with the child(ren).

Q: Can grandparents obtain visitation rights?

Y: Grandparents can obtain visitation rights if it is in the best interest of the child.

Q: If the parents cannot agree on child custody and visitation issues, on what basis will the court decide?

A: Custody of minor children of the marriage will be determined according to the child’s best interest. Factors the court will consider in determining the best interests of the child include those listed in the information section of the Ohio Divorce Main Page.

Child Support

Q: What is “child support”?

A: Child support is money paid by the non custodial parent to the custodial parent in order to meet the needs of the child(ren).

Q: To what should the parties look for guidance regarding amount of child support to be paid? What standard will the court use if the parties cannot agree?

A: In any action in which a court child support order is issued or modified, the court or agency shall calculate the amount of the obligor’s child support obligation in accordance with the basic child support schedule. The court or agency shall specify the support obligation as a monthly amount due and shall order the support obligation to be paid in periodic increments as it determines to be in the best interest of the children. The amount of child support that would be payable as calculated pursuant to the basic child support schedule is rebuttably presumed to be the correct amount of child support due. The court may order an amount of child support that deviates from the amount of child support that would otherwise result from the use of the basic child support schedule if the court determines that the amount calculated pursuant to the basic child support schedule would be unjust or inappropriate and would not be in the best interest of the child.

Factors the court will consider in determining whether to grant a deviation from the child support guidelines include those discussed in the information section of the Ohio Divorce Main Page.

Inside Ohio Divorce FAQ