Legal Separation Vs. Divorce in Ohio

By Roger Thorne
Ohio, both legal separation, divorce
schale image by Ewe Degiampietro from

Not every marriage ends happily, a fact reflected by the laws of divorce. In Ohio, married couples can end a marriage both by divorce and legal separation. Both of these involve similar requirements, and both are subject to the same processes when the court considers mattes of child custody, property distribution and support payments.


Ohio allows married couples to divorce provided that specific criteria are met. In any divorce case, the plaintiff (the person filing the divorce) must have been a resident of the state for at least six months. The divorce petition must state sufficient grounds upon which the court can grant a divorce. Because Ohio is a "no-fault" divorce state, the petitioner need only state the couple has become incompatible, though both parties must agree to this.


Legal separation in Ohio is allowed in lieu of divorce or annulment. Usually, separations are sought because the parties do not meet the six-month residency requirements for a divorce. Like divorces, separations can include provisions for property distribution, child custody and marital support.


Whenever children are involved in a marriage subject to divorce or separation, the courts can enter orders for who gets custody. Ohio courts decide custody matters in light of what is in the best interests of the child, whether or not the parents or guardians agree. Typically, courts will agree with any proposed parenting plan submitted by the parties unless it finds that the best interests of the children are not served.


Ohio courts can award both marital support, sometimes referred to as alimony, and child support in any divorce or separation case. In determining support payments, Ohio courts take into consideration a number of factors, including the parent's income, education and any physical or mental disabilities.


Ohio divorce and separation cases also typically involve a distribution of assets between the parties. State law seeks to award an equitable distribution of assets in these cases. Courts can agree to a proposed property settlements between the parties. If the parties can't agree, or if the court finds the proposed settlement unfair, the court can determine a property settlement based on factors such as each party's assets, income potential, duration of the marriage and any other relevant factor.