You can change your marriage relationship three different ways in Ohio--divorce, dissolution and legal separation. According to Community Legal Aid Service, Inc., a legal separation is, "...a civil court order that does not legally end a marriage, but allows the court to issue orders." The court will take care of matters of spousal support, division of property, parental rights and child support. People file for legal separation because they don't meet residency requires for divorce, hope to fix their marriages or for religious reasons according to the Ohio Legal Services website.
Look over the grounds for legal separation in Ohio and make sure you meet at least one of them. According to Ohio Code 3105.17, reasons for legal separation include: not knowing about another husband or wife of your current spouse living at the time of your marriage, willful absence for one year, adultery, extreme cruelty, fraudulent contract, gross neglect of duty, habitual drunkenness, imprisonment, lived separately for one year or incompatibility.
Acquire the necessary forms to file a complaint requesting a legal separation. You can find these on some Ohio county court websites, from an attorney or from the domestic relations division of the local common pleas court. The forms you require depend on your situation. You will need at least a DR-1, DR-1A, DR-1B, DR-1C and DR-1D form. These forms cover your personal information and financial information. If you have kids, you will also need DR Form 729.
Fill out the necessary forms and file them with the domestic relations division of your local common pleas court. If there is not a domestic relations division at your local common pleas court, you can file it with the general division. You can find the information for your local common pleas court on "The Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio Judicial System" website.
Wait for the non-filing spouse to be served with the complaint for legal separation. If the non-filing spouse contests the separation, they must file an answer to the complaint. If both parties agree, the legal separation hearing will be set. If the parties disagree, there will be a series of pre-trial hearings first.
Discuss with your spouse the terms of your separation. Make sure you cover child support, child visitation, financial support, division of property and responsibility for any debt.
Fill out a separation agreement if you and your spouse can come to an agreement on all the issues discussed. You can type up a general letter outlining the topics you discussed and the result of your agreement.
Bring your separation agreement with you to court or the judge will make the decision himself after looking at evidence and listening to testimony.