• Patricia Brandt, Attorney

Ohio Divorce Basics FAQs

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

What options are available for filing for divorce in Ohio?

In Ohio, you have several options for getting a divorce. These include mediation, collaborative law, a no-fault dissolution of marriage, and adversarial divorce proceedings in court.

How can I use mediation for my divorce?

If you and your spouse are able to work together but have incompatible goals regarding child custody, property division, or other matters relating to your divorce, mediation may be a

good option. With mediation, you and your spouse will work with a neutral “mediator” who can employ proven strategies to help you and your spouse come to terms.

What is collaborative law and how can I use it for my divorce?

Collaborative law is a relatively new concept in family law that allows divorcing spouses to avoid contentious disputes in court. In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse will agree up front not to go to court, and you will work closely with your attorneys and subject-matter experts to come to an amicable resolution on all of the key aspects of your divorce.

How do I choose the best option for my divorce?

Which option is best for you will depend on the unique circumstances involved in your divorce. To get help with your decision, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential consultation.

Can one attorney represent both my spouse and I in our divorce?

While it is technically possible to have one attorney represent both spouses in a divorce, we generally don’t recommend it. In most divorces, there are just too many conflicts for both spouses to have the same legal counsel. In addition, if any issue in your divorce starts to look like it might possibly end up going to court, you will likely have to hire a separate attorney anyway.

What if my spouse isn’t willing to cooperate?

If your spouse isn’t willing to cooperate, you may ultimately have no choice but to pursue a divorce in court. Before going down this path, we recommend that you speak with an attorney.

Will I have to go to court for my divorce?

In amicable divorces, spouses can have extremely limited interactions with the Ohio courts. In many cases, your attorney will be able to appear and speak on your behalf–although even in a no-fault dissolution you will generally need to appear and testify that you are satisfied with the outcome of your divorce. If your divorce is contentious, you may have to appear and testify at various hearings and at trial.

What is the difference between a divorce and a dissolution of marriage?

In Ohio, the term “dissolution of marriage” is used to refer to a type of non-adversarial, no-fault divorce. In other states, it is simply the legal term for a divorce.

What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment?

With a divorce, spouses who are married bring their marriage to an end. They used to be married, and now they’re not. With an annulment, it is as if the parties were never legally married.

What is the difference between a divorce and a separation?

If you wish to live separately from your spouse without formally ending your marriage, you have the option to file for a “legal separation” in Ohio. Legal separations follow many of the same procedures as divorces, and separating spouses can enter into binding agreements to cover things like financial support and sharing time with the couple’s children to help facilitate an amicable separation.

What is a “no-fault” divorce?

In a “no-fault” divorce, either spouse can seek to end the marriage if the parties have been “living separate and apart for one year without interruption and without cohabitation,” and if both spouses agree (or neither disputes) that they are incompatible.

Does Ohio have a no-fault divorce law?

Yes. Ohio has a no-fault divorce law. A no-fault divorce in Ohio is also known as a “dissolution of marriage.”

What are the fault-based grounds for divorce in Ohio?

Ohio is one of the minority of states that still allow for fault-based divorce. The fault-based grounds for divorce in Ohio include: adultery, fraudulent inducement to marry, extreme cruelty, gross neglect, habitual drunkenness, imprisonment, and willful absence for more than one year, Should I file for a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce? This is a very important question that requires careful consideration of all of the facts and circumstances surrounding your decision to end your marriage. There is no formula or one-size-fits-all answer. Our attorneys are here to help you learn more about your options and understand what it means to file for a no-fault or fault-based divorce.

How will fault affect the outcome of my divorce?

If you file (or your spouse files) for a fault-based divorce, a finding of fault can impact issues including property division, alimony, and child custody. It can also indirectly impact child custody rights, as the court may find that living with a parent who committed adultery or spent time in prison for a crime may not be in the best interests of the child.

What are the requirements to file for divorce in Ohio?

To file for divorce in Ohio, you must be legally married, and you must have lived in the state for at least six months. For a no-fault dissolution, you can file if either you or your spouse has lived in Ohio for at least six months.

Can I file for divorce in Ohio if my spouse lives in another state?

Yes. You can file for divorce in Ohio if your spouse lives in another state.

Can same-sex couples get divorced in Ohio?

Yes. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, all states are required to grant the same rights to same-sex and opposite-sex couples. This includes the right for married couples to file for divorce.

Is Ohio a community property state?

No, Ohio is not a community property state. Instead, division of property in a divorce under Ohio law is subject to a rule known as, “equitable distribution.”

How are assets and debts split in a divorce?

In Ohio, divorcing spouses’ marital property gets divided according to the rules of equitable distribution. Importantly, “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.” Certain circumstances (such as significant losses due to gambling or spending marital funds on an affair) may warrant an equitable, but not strictly equal, distribution of marital property.

What is “marital property”?

Generally speaking, marital property includes any assets that either spouse acquires during the marriage. However, there are several important exceptions, including gifts and inheritances received by a single spouse.

What is “separate property”?

Any assets that are not marital property will be considered separate, or non-marital property. In addition to gifts and inheritances, some common examples of separate property include assets acquired prior to the marriage, income from separate assets (such as investment proceeds), and any property designated as separate in a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement.

What if there isn’t a way to equitably split our assets or debts?

There is always a way to reach an equitable distribution. If a couple only has one significant asset (like a house or car), then that asset may need to be sold so that each spouse can receive an equitable portion of the proceeds from the sale.

Who gets the house in a divorce?

Which spouse gets to keep the family home is one of the most contentious issues in many divorces. Unless the home counts as separate property, it will be included as part of the equitable distribution. If you and your spouse can agree who gets the house, that’s great. If not, a court will need to decide for you. As noted above, if there are not enough assets to balance out one spouse keeping the home, it may need to be sold. But, there are often several options available before it comes to selling the family home.


Am I entitled to alimony?

Whether you are entitled to alimony (also referred to as “spousal support”) will depend on the specific circumstances involved in your divorce. In general, spouses with less income and less earning potential are more likely to receive alimony, though these are just two considerations in a long list of possible factors.

Is my spouse entitled to alimony?

Your spouse may be entitled to alimony if he or she earns substantially less than you do, or if he or she gave up employment or educational opportunities in order to take care of your family. Unlike other states, Ohio does not distinguish between various forms of alimony. The general list of factors (see below) applies in any divorce where either spouse seeks long-term or short-term financial support.

How is alimony determined?

Alimony is determined based on a list of factors that include the spouses’ respective incomes, earning potential, and standards of living. Unlike child support, there are no set guidelines for calculating alimony. See a complete list of factors for determining alimony under Ohio law.

Am I entitled to child support?

To determine if you are entitled to child support, you will need to conduct a thorough assessment of your current and anticipated future financial circumstances. The parent who is considered the “breadwinner,” will typically be required to pay child support, though this is not necessarily always the case.

Is my spouse entitled to child support?

Similarly, in order to determine whether your spouse will be required to pay child support, you need to have an idea of your respective incomes and the costs of providing for your children’s health, education, recreation, and development. Your respective custody rights may factor in as well.

How is child support determined?

In Ohio, with only limited exceptions, child support payments are calculated according to strict guidelines established by the state legislature. There are standard worksheets and schedules that parents are required to use in order to determine their child support rights and obligations.

How long will I receive (or pay) child support?

Under Ohio law, both parents have an obligation to support their children until they graduate from high school or reach age 19, whichever is later.

Will I get custody of my children after a divorce?

Custody is understandably most parents’ top priority when going through a divorce. In Ohio, as in most states, custody rights are determined based on the best interests of the child. There are numerous factors the courts consider and that spouses need to weigh when developing parenting plans during a mediated or collaborative law divorce.

What are my options for seeking sole custody?

The Ohio courts generally favor joint custody (also referred to as “shared parenting”), and generally start from the presumption that both parents will share at least some parental rights. In order to win sole custody in your divorce, you will need to be able to establish that spending time with your former spouse would go against the best interests of your child.

If I get a divorce, where will my children go to school?

Your post-divorce parenting plan will include designation of one spouse as the “residential parent for school placement purposes.” Your children will attend school in the district where the “residential parent for school placement purposes” resides. In cases of sole custody, the sole custodian is automatically the “residential parent for school placement purposes.”

What is the difference between custody and visitation?

Generally speaking, “custody” refers to the legal right to either make important decisions or provide a permanent living environment for your child. “Visitation” refers to spending time with your child, and is technically known as “parenting time” in Ohio. Parenting time can either be supervised or unsupervised, and is an important component of most successful parenting plans.

What factors come into play when determining parents’ custody rights in a divorce?

When evaluating the best interests of the child for purposes of determining custody rights, the Ohio courts consider factors such as: the parents’ wishes, the child’s relationships with siblings and others, the child’s adjustment to his or her current school and home, whether either parent plans to move out of state, and the parents’ ability to cooperate in making important decisions.

Can you modify the terms of your divorce (e.g., custody, child support, or alimony rights)?

Yes. With court approval, it is possible to modify the terms of your divorce. Child support obligations can also be modified through an administrative review by the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA).

What are the requirements for seeking modification of custody, child support, or alimony?

Ohio law generally disfavors revisiting the final terms of spouses’ divorces, and as a result only allows modifications if there has been a “material change in circumstances.” An example of a material change may be if one parent moves out of state (necessitating a change in custody rights), or if the spouse responsible for paying alimony or child support loses his or her job. You can generally seek an administrative review of child support with CSEA every 36 months.

What is the process for seeking a modification?

In order to seek a modification, you need to file a petition with the court. Since the courts strictly limit divorce modifications, it is critical that you work with an attorney to make sure you have a strong case before you file. To seek an administrative review, you need to file a form that is available online.

How much does it cost to get divorced in Ohio?

The cost of your divorce will depend greatly on the method you choose and how quickly you and your spouse are able to come to terms. Simple, no-fault dissolutions can be pretty economical, while drawn-out legal battles take more time, effort, and expense.

How long will it take for my divorce to become final?

Here too, the answer depends on the nature of your divorce. With a relatively straight-forward dissolution, your marriage can be over in just a few months. However, contested divorces can take much longer—often taking a year, two years, or even longer to reach a final resolution.

What steps should I take to prepare for my divorce?

To prepare for your divorce, one of the most important things you can do is to start compiling records relating to your family finances and your marital and separate property. Before you file, you will want to make sure (as much as possible) that you have everything you need to protect your interests and pursue your desired property, support, and custody rights. Our attorneys can further advise you on the specific steps you should take before taking steps to formally end your marriage.

What should I avoid doing if I am considering a divorce?

If you are considering a divorce, you should not move out of your marital home unless advised to do so by your attorney. It is also important that you avoid publicizing your plans and personal affairs on social media. Both of these are potential mistakes that can have drastic consequences for the outcome of your divorce.

What should I do if my spouse has filed for divorce?

If your spouse has filed for divorce, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. There are important steps you will want to take to protect your legal rights.

What if I am unhappy with the outcome of my divorce?

If your divorce went to trial and you are unhappy with the outcome, you have the right to file an appeal. But, you only have a limited time window in which to file, so you should contact an experienced attorney right away.

How do I choose the best divorce attorney to represent me?

When considering divorce attorneys to represent you, one of the most important things to look for is experience. You want a lawyer with several years of experience who focuses his or her practice on divorces and other family law matters. The attorney you choose should be well-versed in Ohio divorce law and intimately familiar with all of the rules, cases, and practical considerations that will come into play with your divorce.

Where can I find more information about filing for divorce in Ohio?

For more information about what to expect when going through an Ohio divorce, please read our FAQs. Or, you can contact one of Brandt Law Ltd.’s divorce attorneys for a free one-on-one consultation.

Speak with a Cleveland Divorce Attorney at Brandt Law Ltd. Today

Brandt Law Ltd. is passionate about helping our clients protect their interests when going through a divorce. While we understand that divorce is almost never easy, we are committed to making the process as efficient and pain-free as possible. To get the process started or find out more about what we can do to help, call us at 216-972-1970 or email BrandtLawLtd@gmail.com today to schedule your free consultation.




All information displayed on the Brandt Law Ltd. website is informational and shall not be deemed as legal advice. If you’re currently dealing with an individual legal situation, you’re invited to contact me through email or by phone. Until an attorney-client relationship has been established, I urge that you avoid sharing any confidential information.

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