Divorce in Ohio

The beginning of navigating your divorce

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Divorce: Now what? Let us summarize it

Both contested and uncontested divorces can cause a tremendous amount of stress. Our Clients typically ask what divorce will mean for their children, their home, their retirement, and their debts. I often speak with individuals who feel broken and need guidance on what they should do.​Trust is the foundation of our relationship with clients. We focus on active listening and communication to reduce the amount of anxiety typically felt by our clients in divorce. Time spent talking with our clients is never a waste. From our initial consultation, we discuss what divorce will likely mean for you. We want to know your concerns and what “success” means to you. After our initial consultation we meet with you to review your concerns and discuss many of our clients concerns such as:

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Child Custody

Comprehensive legal support for child custody cases, tailored to your unique situation.

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Parenting Time

Our team has years of experience in handling child custody matters.

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Property Division

We will work closely with you to develop a strategy that suits your needs.

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Maintenance (Alimony)

Understanding the definition of alimony and the various court considerations in determining alimony awards is crucial for individuals going through a divorce.

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Retirement Account Division, etc.

Let us fight for your rights as a parent and ensure the best interests of your children.

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The Wise Approach

Our goal, as your divorce attorney, is to reduce your fear of the unknown in regard to your divorce.

Ohio FAQs

Providing personalized legal solutions for your family's needs.

How long does it take to get divorced in Ohio?

In Ohio, the time it takes to get divorced can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case and whether the process is a dissolution or a divorce.

In a divorce, at least 42 days must elapse from the service of process until the hearing on the divorce complaint. If any issues are contested, such as child custody, property division, or spousal support, the proceedings may take several months or even years, depending on the court's schedule and the availability of trial counsel.

On the other hand, a dissolution is generally a more expedient process. A dissolution hearing can be scheduled after 30 days have elapsed from the filing of the action. The maximum time for a dissolution hearing after filing the petition is 90 days. On average, the in-court time for a dissolution hearing is about 10 minutes.

If the dissolution was reached through a collaborative family law process, the hearing may be held any time after filing the petition, as long as it is within 90 days of filing.

It's important to note that these timelines are general guidelines and can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case, the court's schedule, and the cooperation of the parties involved.

In Ohio, what is the difference between divorce and legal separation?

In Ohio, the main difference between divorce and legal separation is that in a legal separation, the parties remain married, while in a divorce, the marriage is terminated.

Legal separation can be used as a temporary measure to obtain immediate relief, such as a restraining order or temporary orders, until the complaint can be amended to a divorce. There is no residency requirement prior to filing a legal separation action, which can make it a useful option for immediate relief.

When deciding between legal separation and divorce, the first factor to consider is whether the applicant wants to continue or terminate the marriage. It's important to note that even if one party wishes to preserve the marriage through legal separation, the other party can still file a cross-complaint for divorce. If the defendant can prove the grounds alleged in the cross-complaint for divorce, a divorce will be granted.

It's advisable to consult with a family law attorney to understand the specific implications and considerations of legal separation and divorce in Ohio. An attorney can provide guidance based on the unique circumstances of your case and help you navigate the legal process effectively.

What is the difference between divorce and dissolution in Ohio?

In Ohio, both divorce and dissolution result in the termination of the marital status and the associated property rights of the parties. However, there are key differences between the two processes.

In a divorce action, it is often necessary for one party to allege that the other party was at fault. This can lead to a more adversarial and contentious process. On the other hand, a dissolution action involves the preparation of a separation agreement before filing a petition. This agreement outlines the terms of the settlement, including property division, spousal support, and parental rights and responsibilities. The preparation of the separation agreement promotes a more positive attitude and a spirit of cooperation between the parties.

A dissolution proceeding requires that all property disputes and support and parental rights be completely settled before filing the petition. If any of these issues are unresolved, a dissolution cannot be pursued. In contrast, in a divorce, legal separation, or annulment action, the court may be called upon to resolve these issues if the parties cannot reach an agreement. In a contested divorce, the main points of contention often revolve around spousal support, property division, and parenting matters.

The dissolution process is designed to avoid court conflict and the expense of lengthy litigation. By reaching a settlement agreement in advance, both parties have a clear understanding of the outcome and can proceed with the dissolution in a more amicable manner.

How expensive is divorce in Ohio?

The cost of a divorce in Ohio can vary depending on the level of litigation involved. In general, divorces can become expensive when there are disputes that require extensive legal proceedings to reach a resolution. However, at Wise & Associates, they strive to minimize attorneys' fees through their approach of "staged flat fees."

On average, a contested divorce without the need for a trial can cost around $9,500. This includes expenses related to legal representation, court filings, and other associated costs. However, Wise & Associates aims to provide more affordable options for their clients. With an average divorce cost of approximately $6,000, they offer a cost-effective alternative compared to other divorce law firms in Ohio.

By utilizing staged flat fees, Wise & Associates aims to provide transparency and predictability in their billing process. This approach allows clients to have a clear understanding of the costs involved at each stage of the divorce process. It helps minimize surprises and provides clients with greater control over their expenses.

The goal of Wise & Associates is to provide quality legal representation while keeping costs reasonable. They understand that divorce can be a challenging and emotionally charged process, and they strive to offer their services at a more affordable rate compared to other firms.

It's important to note that the cost of a divorce can vary depending on the complexity of the case, the level of cooperation between the parties, and other unique circumstances. It's advisable to consult with an attorney to discuss the specific details of your situation and obtain a more accurate estimate of the potential costs involved.

How are businesses divided in a divorce?

When dividing businesses in a divorce, several approaches can be taken depending on the specific circumstances of the case. One possibility is for the managing party to buy out the non-managing party's share of the business. In this case, the agreement should include a formula for valuing the shares of the corporation and specify the terms of the buyout, such as the timing of the sale and any necessary consents from the Internal Revenue Service.

For sole proprietorships, the agreement should also include a formula for determining the value of the business. It should outline the terms of the transfer and specify a timeframe for performance. In the event of nonperformance, the agreement should provide a remedy.

In the case of closely held corporations, sole proprietorships, and partnerships, there may be an agreement where no transfer for value is made. Instead, alternative arrangements can be made, such as one spouse holding a portion of the entity in trust for the other, sharing only the income of the business on a pro rata basis, or one spouse receiving all the business interests while the other receives compensating assets. Another option is for one spouse to receive a note and security interest against the business assets retained or received by the other.

The specific approach to dividing a business in a divorce will depend on factors such as the nature of the business, its value, and the preferences and goals of the parties involved. It's important to consult with a family law attorney and potentially a business valuation expert to determine the most appropriate approach for your situation.

What is alimony in Ohio?

In Ohio, spousal support, also known as alimony, can be awarded upon the request of either party in a divorce or legal separation proceeding. It is important for the requesting party to specifically request spousal support in order for the court to have jurisdiction to award it. A general request for relief may not be sufficient to establish the other party's awareness of the request for spousal support.

Spousal support can be awarded in various forms, including real or personal property, a sum of money, or a combination of both. The payment can be made in a lump sum or in installments, either from future income or as a one-time payment.

The criteria for determining the nature, amount, and method of payment for spousal support are outlined in Ohio Revised Code (R.C.) 3105.18. The statute grants trial courts the jurisdiction to assess the reasonableness and appropriateness of spousal support awards in divorce and legal separation proceedings.

It's important to note that the court has discretion in determining the amount and duration of spousal support. The court will consider various factors, including the duration of the marriage, the income and earning capacity of each party, the standard of living during the marriage, the age and health of the parties, and other relevant considerations.

How is alimony calculated in Ohio?

In Ohio, the calculation of spousal support, also known as alimony, is based on the principles of reasonableness and appropriateness. The purpose of spousal support is to mitigate the significant lifestyle changes that occur as a result of divorce. It is important to note that a party seeking support does not need to demonstrate that it is necessary, as the standard is broader than the necessary standard that was previously applicable.

When determining spousal support, the court cannot consider fault as a factor. However, an exception to this rule may be made in cases of cohabitation, as long as there is an economic component to the cohabitation. The purpose of spousal support is not to punish a former spouse but to provide financial support.

The court must consider the obligor's ability to comply with a spousal support order, even if it results in a negative cash flow for the obligor. It is important to assess whether it is reasonable and appropriate for both parties involved.

Before making an award of spousal support, the court must first identify and divide marital property. There are fourteen factors outlined in Ohio Revised Code 3105.18(C)(1) that must be considered when determining spousal support. The use of a mathematical formula to calculate spousal support is discouraged, as it does not take into account the statutory factors and may result in a reversal of the decision.

Are there any defenses to alimony?

There are several defenses to actions for spousal support, also known as alimony, in Ohio. These defenses include the invalidity of the marriage and the existence of a provision in an antenuptial agreement that addresses spousal support.

Impossibility can also be a defense to an award of spousal support. However, it's important to note that orders resulting in a negative cash flow for the obligor have been affirmed in certain circumstances. For example, if the negative cash flow is expected to be temporary, if both parties will have to operate at a net deficient, or if a party's reduced income in a particular year was a non-recurring event.

It's worth mentioning that the Ohio Revised Code does not explicitly include a party's expenses or their ability to pay spousal support as factors to consider. However, the catch-all provision of the statute allows the court to consider "any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable."

How can I terminate alimony?

The termination of spousal support, also known as alimony, can be approached in several ways depending on the specific circumstances of the case.  First, spousal support may be terminated upon a specified date. The court can set a specific end date for the spousal support payments, after which they will no longer be required.

Second, spousal support may be terminated upon the occurrence of a specified event. The court can establish certain conditions or events that, when met, will result in the termination of spousal support. For example, if the recipient spouse remarries or cohabitates with a new partner, it may trigger the termination of support.

Third, the trial court may terminate spousal support based on a change of circumstances. If there is a significant change in the financial situation or needs of either party, the court may exercise its continuing jurisdiction to modify or terminate the spousal support order.

Lastly, spousal support may terminate automatically upon the death of either party. In the event of the death of the paying spouse or the receiving spouse, the spousal support obligation will come to an end.

It's important to consult with a family law attorney to understand the specific laws and guidelines regarding the termination of spousal support in your jurisdiction.

How does property get divided in a divorce?

In a divorce, the trial court is responsible for equitably dividing the property of the parties involved. The court has broad discretion in determining how to divide and distribute the property. This division can be accomplished directly or indirectly.

Indirectly, the court can affect the distribution of property by declaring the extent of the parties' rights to the property and ordering them to perform necessary actions to complete the distribution. This may include conveying title to the other party or taking other steps to transfer ownership.

Directly, the court can directly affect the division of property by including language in the divorce decree that serves as a conveyance of specific items of property. This can involve specifying which party will receive certain assets or property.

The goal of property division in a divorce is to achieve an equitable distribution. This means that the court will consider various factors to determine what is fair and just in dividing the property. Factors that may be considered include the length of the marriage, the financial contributions of each party, the earning capacity of each party, and other relevant considerations.

How are debts divided in a divorce?

In a divorce, debts incurred during the marriage are generally considered marital debts unless it can be proven otherwise. This means that both spouses are presumed to be responsible for the debts accumulated during the marriage.

For example, if one spouse incurs debt for college expenses for their adult children during the marriage, that debt is considered marital debt. Similarly, tax liabilities are considered marital debt if both spouses share in the income that led to the tax liability.

Even if only one parent incurred the legal liability for student loans taken out for the children, the debt may still be considered marital debt. This is because the court may view the debt as a shared responsibility since it was incurred for the benefit of the family.

It's important to note that the division of debts in a divorce can be complex and may require careful consideration of various factors. The court will consider the financial circumstances of each spouse, their ability to pay the debts, and other relevant factors when determining how to divide the debts.

What are parental rights in Ohio?

In Ohio, parental rights and responsibilities are allocated by domestic relations and juvenile courts in actions for divorce, legal separation, annulment, and parental rights and responsibilities. The court has the duty to inquire about the children of the marriage and make orders for their care and maintenance, even if the issue is not raised in the pleadings.

In a dissolution, the court must ensure that the parties have made provisions for custody. Since dissolutions are uncontested, the court only needs to determine if the agreed allocation of parental rights and responsibilities is in the best interest of the child. If a Petition for Dissolution is voluntarily dismissed, the court may not retain jurisdiction to allocate parental rights and responsibilities. However, if a divorce is dismissed, the domestic court may certify matters related to parental rights and responsibilities to the juvenile court.

When allocating parental rights and responsibilities, the court may designate one parent as the child's residential parent and legal custodian, giving them complete control over the physical and legal care of the child. The court may also divide other responsibilities between the parents, such as child support and parenting time.

Alternatively, the court may grant shared parenting, where both parents are designated as the child's legal custodian and residential parent. For non-school-age children, both parents may be designated as the residential parent. For school-age children, one or both parents may be designated as the residential parent for school placement purposes. It's important to note that the designation of a residential parent for legal custodianship does not affect other designations, such as school placement, tax purposes, or receiving public assistance.

Are fathers automatically given the same legal rights as the child’s mother?

By default, under Ohio law, an unmarried mother is considered the sole residential parent and legal custodian of a child born outside of wedlock. This means that she has automatic legal rights and responsibilities for the child. On the other hand, a father who has established parentage does not automatically have the same legal rights as the child's mother. He must take additional steps to establish his parental rights and responsibilities through the court system.

Establishing parentage is an important step for a father to gain legal rights to his biological child. This can be done through various means, such as signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity form or obtaining a court order of paternity. Once parentage is established, the father can then seek legal rights and responsibilities for the child.

It's important to note that the court will consider the best interests of the child when determining parental rights and responsibilities. This includes factors such as the child's relationship with each parent, the ability of each parent to provide for the child's needs, and other relevant considerations.

It's advisable for fathers who wish to establish their legal rights to their child to consult with a family law attorney. An attorney can guide them through the process of establishing parentage and help them navigate the legal system to secure their parental rights and responsibilities.

How do I receive shared parenting rights?

To receive shared parenting rights, one or both parents must submit a proposed plan and make the request through a pleading or motion. Shared parenting means that the parents share some or all aspects of physical and legal care of their children based on a plan that is deemed to be in the child's best interest.

Shared parenting is generally considered to be in the best interest of the children because it allows the parents to work together for their well-being. The purpose of a shared parenting plan is to provide flexibility within the court's order, allowing the parents to make decisions together for the child's educational, emotional, psychological, and other needs as they arise.

Shared parenting assumes that the parents can set aside their personal differences and prioritize the child's best interest. However, if the parents are unable to cooperate effectively, shared parenting may result in a lack of stability and predictability in the child's life.

In a shared parenting arrangement, both parents are considered residential parents and legal custodians of the child, unless the plan specifies otherwise. The residential parent is the one with whom the child resides at a particular point in time, while the other parent is the non-residential parent during that period. If necessary for the purpose of receiving public assistance, the court must designate which parent's residence will serve as the child's home.

Do I have to pay child support?

Child support is a parental duty that is assumed by various individuals. This duty applies to:

1. Biological parents of a child.

2. Men who have been determined to be the natural father of the child through legal processes outlined in Ohio Revised Code (R.C.) 3111.01 to R.C. 3111.19 or R.C. 3111.20 to R.C. 3111.29.

3. Adoptive parents who have gone through the adoption process as outlined in Chapter 3107 of the Ohio Revised Code.

4. Parents who have signed an acknowledgment of paternity that has become final under R.C. 2151.232, R.C. 3111.82, or R.C. 3111.64.

In summary, child support is a parental duty that applies to biological parents, legally recognized fathers, adoptive parents, and parents who have signed an acknowledgment of paternity. The specific circumstances and legal processes involved may vary, so it's advisable to consult with a family law attorney to understand the specific laws and guidelines regarding child support in your case.

How is child support calculated in Ohio?

Child support in Ohio is calculated using a basic child support schedule that takes into account the combined annual income of the parents, including a self-sufficiency reserve. The schedule is created by the Director of the Department of Job and Family Services and is reviewed at least every four years to ensure its accuracy and relevance.

The review of the basic child support schedule considers various factors, including the cost of raising children, labor market data, factors influencing employment rates and ability to pay child support, and the impact of the guidelines on families with income below 200% of the federal poverty level.

The Director of the Department of Job and Family Services is also responsible for creating the child support worksheets that are used to calculate child support based on the schedule. These worksheets, along with an instruction manual, assist users in accurately calculating child support. The worksheets and manual can be accessed on the department's website.

While the use of the schedule and worksheets is mandatory, the trial court does have discretion to deviate from the calculated amount if there are compelling reasons to do so. This allows the court to consider unique circumstances and make adjustments as necessary.

Can I modify child support in the future?

Child support in Ohio can be modified in the future if there are changes in circumstances that warrant a modification. The trial court retains jurisdiction to modify child support orders under the Civil Rules and statutes.

To initiate the modification process, a party must file a motion with the court requesting a modification of child support and serve the other party with the motion. The court will then review the motion and consider the requested modification.

If a modification order is granted, it may be made effective from the date the motion for modification was filed, unless there are special circumstances. However, child support cannot commence prior to the actual physical possession of the child.

It's important to note that a trial court cannot modify child support without a pending motion for modification, except in the case of an appeal from an administrative modification by the child support enforcement agency. Additionally, a trial court cannot terminate child support without a separate motion pursuant to R.C. 3119.88(A)(9). If parental rights are modified to an obligor, the court should terminate that obligor's child support order.

During the modification process, the trial court may consider multiple child support worksheets based on changes in income and status while the motion to modify is pending. This is done for the purpose of judicial economy and equity.

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