The Divorce Process in Ohio


             The process for initiating a divorce in Ohio can be complex, frustrating, and emotionally draining.  Just as any other civil lawsuit, a divorce in Ohio is initiated by the filing of a Complaint.  Along with certain other information, the Complaint for Divorce must establish the jurisdiction of the Court in which the Complaint for Divorce is filed, state the specific grounds for the divorce, and the relief sought by the plaintiff, including child custody, spousal support, or child support.  Ohio courts also require the plaintiff to file several other documents with the Complaint for Divorce.  In a divorce with children, these documents include an affidavit of financial disclosure, a parenting proceeding affidavit, requests for temporary restraining orders, a child support computation worksheet, and an application for child support services.  After the filing of the Complaint for Divorce with the Clerk of Courts, it is then served on the Defendant spouse via certified mail or process server.  Once service is perfected upon the Defendant spouse, he/she will have twenty-eight days to file an Answer and Counterclaim to the Complaint for Divorce.  If the Defendant spouse files a Counterclaim for Divorce, the Plaintiff will then have twenty-eight days to file an Answer to the Defendant spouse’s Counterclaim for Divorce. 

            After the process of filing a Complaint for Divorce is complete, the Defendant spouse has filed and Answer and a Counterclaim for Divorce, and the Plaintiff has filed an Answer to the Defendant’s Counterclaim for Divorce, the parties may then engage in the process known as “discovery.”  During the discovery process, the parties may serve written requests, in the form of questions, or “interrogatories,” or requests for production of documents.  These requests are utilized to obtain all relevant information regarding the opposing party’s property, assets, and debts so that an equitable distribution of the marital property and responsibility for marital debts can be reached.  During the discovery process in a divorce, the parties may also engage in depositions where the parties must testify under oath before a court reporter by answering questions from the opposing party’s attorney.

            Sometime during or after the discovery process is completed in a divorce in Ohio, the Court will order the parties to attend a pretrial conference, a settlement conference, and/or a mediation conference.  These conferences are utilized by the court so that the parties in a divorce in Ohio can come together and discuss any unresolved issues with the goal that the parties of the divorce reach a compromise.  If a compromise is reached during this stage of the divorce in Ohio, the parties will often execute certain final documents, including a separation agreement, a shared parenting plan (in divorces with children), and final decrees for the Court to sign.  If the parties fail to reach an agreement, the divorce will be set for a trial where the parties will testify concerning all of the relevant issues in the divorce. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge will then decide all of the issues in the divorce, including child custody/parenting time, child support, spousal support, and the division of marital property, assets, and debts. 

            As seen from above, the process for a divorce in Ohio can be incredibly complex.  This article is intended to provide a general understanding of the divorce process in Ohio.  It is not intended to be an exhaustive explanation of all of the issues which may arise in a divorce. Due to the complex nature of a divorce, it is important for anyone seeking a divorce in Ohio to consult with an Ohio divorce attorney.  Contact The Miller Firm today at (937)964-5291 regarding your divorce matter.