Ohio law provides a variety of ways a married couple can terminate their marriage.
The most efficient and cost effective method to terminate a marriage in Ohio is through the dissolution process. In a dissolution, the parties must file a petition for dissolution with the court. However, unlike in a divorce, the parties must also present written agreements of the terms of their dissolution at the time of filing. Usually this includes a separation agreement and, if their are children, a shared parenting plan. A separation agreement includes the terms of the parties' agreement concerning the division of the parties' financial assets and debts, including real estate, motor vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, spousal support, etc.
Additionally, if the parties have children and they wish to enter into a shared parenting arrangement, a shared parenting plan must be submitted. This document will address the parties' agreement regarding parenting time schedules for the children, child support, and who will be responsible for the payment of other expenses for the children, e.g. extracurricular activities, child care expenses, etc. However, parties are not required to enter into a shared parenting arrangement in a dissolution. The parties may agree that one parent is designated as the sole legal custodian of the children as well. Once the dissolution and agreements are submitted to the court, the parties then attend a hearing to affirm their agreement under oath before the court. At the end of this hearing, the parties' marriage will be officially dissolved.
The dissolution process can be finalized is as little as two months. Further, the cost of a dissolution can be a fraction of the cost for a divorce. Thus, for many couples, a dissolution is a much more attractive means to end their marriage. However, since the parties must reach an agreement concerning all of the issues before filing for a dissolution, this method is simply not possible when one, or many, of the issues remain contested between the parties.
If the parties cannot reach such an agreement prior to filing, most parties must file a complaint for divorce. The divorce process in Ohio is much like any other civil lawsuit - a complaint is filed by one party and the opposing party is served; the opposing party can then file an answer to the complaint and counterclaim; the parties engage in the discovery process (the exchange of requested information); the parties attempt to negotiate the terms of the divorce through settlement conferences or mediation; or, if issues remain unresolved, the parties attend a final divorce hearing. The divorce process in Ohio can be very costly and time consuming. However, if there are contested issues prior to filing, divorce is often the only means of terminating a marriage.
An annulment is another way to end a marriage in Ohio. However, annulments are only possible under very limited circumstances. These include, but are not limited to, if one of the parties was already married to another person, if one of the parties has been declared mentally incompetent, or if the marriage was never consummated.
As seen from above, married couples have options for terminating their marriage. If you have questions regarding which of these options best fits your circumstances, or if you have additional questions regarding these options, contact The Miller Firm today at (937)259-8031 for a consultation.