Steps for Filing for a Divorce in Ohio

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Divorce can be an emotionally and financially difficult process. In Ohio, couples who cannot resolve their differences are required to petition for a "divorce"; couples able to come to their own conclusions regarding the separation of finances, property and children are eligible for a "dissolution of marriage. To minimize the pain associated with divorce, Ohio has a step-by-step plan to make the process as simple as possible.

Fulfill the residential prerequisite requirements. To file for divorce in Ohio, either the plaintiff (the person filing for divorce), or the defendant (the person being divorced) must have been a resident of Ohio for the six months before filing (or being served) for divorce, and must have been a resident of the county where the divorce is being filed for at least 90 days before filing.

Determine whether the divorce is "no-fault" or "fault." Grounds for a "no-fault" divorce include couples who have lived apart without cohabitation for at least one year, or couples who are incompatible.

Grounds for a "fault" divorce include the following: bigamy, intentional absence from home for at least one year, fraud, extreme cruelty, gross neglect of duty to spouse or family, state or federal imprisonment at the time of filing, out-of-state divorce and habitual intoxication.

File a complaint in the county clerk's court of common pleas. The spouse who files the complaint is referred to as the plaintiff, and the other spouse is called the defendant. The complaint filed must include the place where the marriage took place, the date of the marriage, the names and birth dates of any children younger than 18, and the specific grounds for divorce.

The defendant will be "served," meaning that spouse will be be provided with papers indicating the complaint has been filed, and ordering that spouse to report to the jurisdiction of the court.

After being served, the defendant must respond by filing an "answer" to the filed complaint, and by either acquiescing to or disagreeing with the claims made in the complaint. A defendant who disagrees can explain his or her defense, and may file a counterclaim detailing claims against the plaintiff. If a counterclaim is filed, the plaintiff is obligated to file a "reply," either acquiescing to or disagreeing with the defendant's complaints and submitting a defense.

While the case is pending, either the plaintiff or the defendant can file temporary orders for alimony, child support, visitation rights, temporary custody or temporary restraining. Spouses can also ask for psychiatric or psychological evaluations of themselves or their children to help the court determine parental rights. Dispositions and interrogations may be held to help the court decide what assets are at stake, the values of certain properties and businesses, and future plans concerning the children.

While the final hearing is pending, the court might hold at least one pretrial proceeding to attempt to help the parties mutually reach an agreeable decision. Whatever cannot be decided during the pretrials will be decided upon during the final hearing.


About the Author

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.

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  • Wedding Rings on Table image by Samuel Adams from