Your ex up and left, and now you're feeling almost as bitter and betrayed as you did after LeBron's "Decision" to take his talents to South Beach. But you're ready to move on with your life. You want to file for divorce. What can you expect as you move forward with the divorce process?
Divorce vs. Dissolution
In Ohio, unless grounds for an annulment exist, marriages are typically ended either by divorce or dissolution. Most states use the terms "dissolution" and "divorce" interchangeably to refer to the permanent ending of a marriage. Ohio, however, differentiates between the two terms, with each term referring to a different way of ending a marriage.
In a "dissolution," couples are able to end their marriages pretty much on their own terms, and with minimal involvement from the court. Similar to "no-fault" divorce, wrongdoing or fault is not brought into issue. The most notable characteristic of an Ohio dissolution, however, is the requirement that both spouses sign a separation agreement before filing anything in court. The separation agreement covers issues that would otherwise be litigated in court, namely -- division of property, spousal support, child custody, and child support. If the judge determines that the agreement is fair to both parties, the court will make the separation agreement an order of the court, thereby ending the marriage. Since fault is irrelevant and most remaining issues are agreed upon in the separation agreement, dissolution often prevents the protracted back-and-forth arguing associated with many contested divorces.
A "divorce," on the other hand, requires a judge to end a marriage based on legal grounds (legally accepted reasons for divorce). Ohio has both "fault" and "no-fault" grounds for divorce. Fault-based grounds for divorce include: adultery, abandonment for one year, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness or drug abuse, and imprisonment. The two no-fault grounds are: living separately and apart for a continuous year, and incompatibility. Because it is adversarial by its very nature, the divorce process usually takes longer and is more expensive than dissolution.
As a general rule, Ohio courts divide up a couple's marital property "equitably." What does this mean? Let's first outline the differences between marital property and separate property:
When it comes to distributing a couple's marital property, courts generally divide assets equally between spouses -- unless doing so would be unfair. If it would be unfair or "inequitable" to divide assets equally, the court considers all of the factors listed below:
If one spouse earns less than the other, that spouse may request that the court award him or her spousal support on a temporary and/or permanent basis. Ohio does not have specific spousal support guidelines, so courts take into account several different factors in determining the amount and length of a support award, including:
Ohio refers to a child custody determination as an allocation of "the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the minor children of the marriage." In any custody determination, the court must take the "best interest of the child" into consideration. This means the court may take several factors into account, such as:
In Ohio, both parents have a legal duty to support their child until the child graduates high school -- or until the child turns 18 if he or she stops attending high school. If child support is awarded, courts calculate the amount of support by looking at both parents' gross income, as well as the number of children covered under the support order.
You can estimate the amount of child support owed in your case by referring to the child support table used by Ohio courts.
Going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotional experience. If you would like to learn more about the process, in general, check out FindLaw's section on divorce. If you have specific questions regarding your case, you may want to retain a local divorce lawyer.
Contact a qualified attorney.