When your marriage is over, the legal process to get a divorce can seem daunting. Understanding what to expect can ease some of the stress you may be feeling.

Divorce in Ohio does not necessarily require a long, expensive trial. Spouses who have an uncontested divorce and/or a simple situation without children or significant property can file without going to court.

Filing for an uncontested divorce

Both parties must sign the Ohio Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to receive an uncontested (no-fault) divorce. Submit it to the court in the county where you have lived for at least six months. If applicable, include a separation agreement that states how you will divide marital debt and property and establish spousal support, child custody and/or child support. You must also include financial disclosures, along with a shared parenting plan, child support worksheet and parenting proceeding affidavit if you and your spouse have children together.

Obtaining a fault-based divorce

Either party can seek a divorce with fault in Ohio in one of the following conditions:

  • Bigamy
  • Imprisonment or abuse
  • Adultery
  • Fraudulent marriage contract
  • Neglect of spousal duty or financial support
  • Chronic substance use
  • Abandonment for at least 12 months

File a divorce complaint along with a statement of your requests for property and debt division, child custody, child support and spousal support. You must also deliver this paperwork to your spouse by registered or certified mail, sheriff service or private process service.

Attending the court hearing

For both types of divorce, after filing these documents you will receive notice of a court hearing. At this date, both spouses must attend and answer the judge’s questions to obtain the official Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

The hearing date is usually within 90 days of your filing date. If you and your spouse do not agree on certain issues, consider seeking mediation to create an agreement. Otherwise, the judge will schedule a trial at which he or she will hear the evidence and make a legally binding decision. Sometimes, he or she will order mediation before the trial.