How to complete a "do it yourself" divorce in Ohio?
With the considerable cost of divorce lawyer fees, it only makes sense to explore the do-it-yourself divorce option. While it may require a little more research and time to take care of your own divorce, you will also save a lot of money as well. For married couples that want a quick and easy solution, do-it-yourself may be the perfect way to go.
Do It Yourself Divorce – Step By Step
- Determine eligibility – Before you get started on your do-it-yourself divorce in Ohio, you need to make sure you actually qualify. The state of Ohio requires that you be a resident of the state for at least six months and that you be a resident of the county you are filing for divorce in for at least 90 days. Failing to meet these requirements can lead to your case being thrown out or denied outright when you try to submit your paperwork.
- Decide if you want a general divorce or a no-fault divorce – Divorce in Ohio falls into two categories – general and no-fault. In a general divorce you must come up with a specific reason for the divorce. Ohio accepts a number of reasons for divorce, including cruel and inhuman treatment, imprisonment, bigamy, fraud, drunkenness, adultery and willful desertion for one year. You can also request a no-fault divorce. Incompatibility is typically the reason used in this type of divorce, although you can also list the fact that you and your spouse have been living apart for a year. It is important to get clear on which type of divorce you want and your reasons for it, because you paperwork will be different.
- Decide on property division and child custody issues – Do-it-yourself divorces can go quickly and painlessly in the right circumstances, but it is important to be realistic. You and your spouse should be able to come to relative agreement on the division of your property and issues concerning your children – including child custody and child support. If you are unable to come to an understanding with your spouse now, be aware that the court will ask questions about all of these subjects. Failure to agree will generally lead to a trial where the court must decide who gets what – a situation where you are probably better off having a divorce lawyer than going do-it-yourself.
- Decide how much of a do-it-yourself divorce you want – While it is possible to go it completely alone, many people choose to use an online divorce service like CompleteCase. At CompleteCase we will ask you an extensive series of questions and help you fill out all the required forms before you ever enter the court. This can save you both time and money, as well as ensure that everything that needs to be done is done in your do-it-yourself divorce process.
- File a complaint with your local court – In Ohio you must file a complaint with your local court to get the ball rolling on your divorce. Once you have filed your complaint you will be given the appropriate forms to fill out to start the divorce process. You fill out the forms, submit them back to the clerk and then wait.
- Let the court serve your spouse – Unlike some other states, Ohio will serve your spouse for you. It will notify your spouse that you are seeking a divorce and the reasons for that divorce and allow your spouse to respond. He or she can agree with the divorce or contest the divorce.
- Go to your pre-trial hearing – Ohio expects you and your spouse to attend a pre-trial hearing where you can discuss the pending divorce. Depending on your county you may be required to present documentation of your assets, debts and anything else the court is interested in. Make sure you arrive at your pre-trial hearing on time and ready to discuss your case. The court has been known to dismiss cases where people were late – which would force you to go through the whole process over again.
- Resolve your differences or go to trial – Your pre-trial hearing is your opportunity to resolve any differences you have with your spouse. If you fail to do so, the court will require you to go to trial. If this happens you are probably better off hiring a divorce attorney than going for a complete do-it-yourself divorce. Your spouse will likely hire his or her own lawyer and the stakes will be high enough to warrant an attorney.