While making the decision to end your marriage is never easy, you may be surprised to discover how straightforward the divorce process can be. Taking the first steps to get divorced in Ohio is as simple as filling out the required divorce papers and filing them with your county clerk. Granted, getting the divorce finalized by the court may take some time – especially if you and your spouse are not in agreement on everything. If you are struggling to come to equitable divorce terms with your spouse divorce mediation may help, or in more involved circumstances, a divorce attorney might be the right path to take.. Whichever direction you go the sooner you begin, the sooner the court can finalize the divorce.
The following information will help you understand the basics of divorce in the state of Ohio. With this information, you can begin to take the necessary steps to fill out your divorce papers and get started on your divorce.
From 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the divorce rate in Ohio is 3.4 for every 1,000 residents. The state had a divorce rate of 4.7 for every 1,000 residents in 1990, but the rate has declined over the years to its current number. This figure places the state of Ohio in the middle compared to other states in the U.S.
The state of Ohio is what is referred to as a mixed state, meaning that it allows for both fault-based and no-fault divorces. In a fault-based divorce, you must prove that your spouse did something that led to the divorce based on ground accepted by the state. Ohio offers a number of grounds for divorce, including adultery, extreme cruelty and habitual drunkenness. Fault-based divorces are not a popular type of divorce anymore, as they are often longer, more expensive and require bringing up embarrassing details about the marriage.
A no-fault divorce is the primary type of divorce today, where you choose one of the two grounds for no-fault divorce allowed by Ohio – incompatibility or living apart for at least one year. Ohio allows one other type of no-fault divorce, where both spouses agree on all aspects of the divorce, including property division and child-related issues. Ohio refers to this type of divorce as a “dissolution of marriage”. It is the quickest and least expensive type of divorce in the state. Ohio requires that you or your spouse have lived in the state for six months before filing for divorce. It also requires that you or your spouse have resided in the county where you file for divorce for at least 90 days.
Although the specific divorce forms you will use in your case will vary based on your circumstances, there are a few forms that are used in every divorce. These include a “Case Designation Sheet”, “Instructions for Service” and a “Complaint for Divorce”. If you and your spouse have children, you will also need to complete a “Parenting Proceeding Affidavit”.
If you and your spouse are in agreement on all issues and want to pursue a dissolution of marriage, you will need to complete a number of other forms, as the court will want all your information up front to expedite the divorce process. In addition to the “Case Designation Sheet”, you will need to complete a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage”, a “Settlement Agreement” and a “Financial Disclosure Statement”. If you have children you will need to complete several additional forms as well.
Ohio Legal Services provides some helpful information for those interested in divorce on its website, as well as some of the forms listed above for downloading and completing on your own. It is advisable to read the Q&A section of the site to educate yourself on the divorce process in Ohio. The better informed you are, the better you can protect yourself during the sometimes stressful divorce process.
If you feel overwhelmed as you review all the possible Ohio divorce papers and legal requirements for divorce, you are not alone. Unless you have legal training, the divorce process can be intimidating and confusing. Many people find it helpful to get their Ohio divorce papers online from CompleteCase.com precisely for this reason. At CompleteCase.com, you will be guided through the divorce form selection and completion process. You will know that you are filling out the right documents in the correct way, ensuring that you will avoid any unnecessary delays to your divorce.
Once you have finally completed the required documents, the next step is to file your Ohio divorce papers in the county where you or your spouse resides. Ohio Legal Services provides a helpful court location tool where you can enter your county or zip code and find out which court you are supposed to file at.
It is always a good idea to call ahead and verify that you are bringing all of the correct documents to the county clerk, along with a form of payment that the court accepts to pay the state filing fee. You will want to make at least two additional copies of your divorce documents, one to keep for your records and one to serve to your spouse. If you are filing a dissolution of marriage, you will not need to serve your spouse, as you are both signing the documents and filing jointly.
If you have not filed a dissolution of marriage together with your spouse, you will need to serve a copy of the divorce papers to your spouse as soon as you have filed with the county. Ohio allows you to serve your spouse in several ways, including:
Sheriff's Deputy – You pay a fee to the local sheriff's office to have a deputy serve your spouse.
Private Process Server – This option usually costs more than hiring a sheriff's deputy, but it can be faster. Usually private process server will also make several attempts to serve the documents, where a deputy will only make one attempt.
Certified or Registered Mail – If you believe that your spouse will be cooperative, you can mail copies of the divorce documents. You need to file proof that the forms were delivered with the court.
By Publication – If you cannot locate your spouse, you can ask the court for permission to publish the divorce in the local paper. This is the most expensive option, so should only be a last resort.