A marriage can be terminated by a Dayton family lawyer filing a complaint (meaning a legal document or pleading) for divorce on a client’s behalf in the Ohio domestic relations division of the local common pleas court. In order for the a common pleas court to have jurisdiction (meaning the legal authority or power to hear a case), the parties must have resided in the State of Ohio for 6 months, and in the county where the divorce complaint is filed for 90 days. Your Dayton family lawyer must allege proper jurisdiction, and a legal ground for divorce in the filed complaint. In Ohio, the legal grounds for divorce include adultery, gross neglect of duty, bigamy, willful absence of the spouse from the plaintiff’s (meaning the person who files the complaint) home for a continuous one-year period preceding the filing of the divorce complaint, extreme cruelty, fraudulent contract, habitual drunkenness, imprisonment of the other spouse, living separate and apart without cohabitation and/or incompatibility. Ohio is a no-fault divorce state. This means that parties can obtain a divorce that is considered to be “no fault” of either party by citing the grounds of either living separate and apart without cohabitation or the grounds of incompatibility. In practice, most divorces in Ohio are now “no fault” because to prove other grounds such as adultery or gross neglect of duty, while perhaps being emotionally satisfying, is often very expensive in terms of time, emotion and money. In addition, even if “fault” of one party is proven, it has very little practical impact on the outcome of a divorce case. For example, if a marriage is terminated on the grounds of adultery or gross neglect of duty, the Court does not tend to order more spousal support or child support or allocate more assets to the “innocent” party than if it had terminated the marriage on the grounds of incompatibility (a “no fault” ground for divorce in Ohio).
After a divorce complaint is filed, your Dayton divorce attorney will arrange for the other party to be legally served with a copy of the complaint. A divorce cannot be granted until 6 weeks after the other party is notified. Parties in a divorce can ask for temporary orders to be put in place while the divorce is pending. These temporary orders can govern the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities (custody), spousal and child support, and restrain a party from harassing the other, and/or from transferring or depleting marital assets. Hearings on these temporary orders can occur while the divorce is pending. While a divorce is pending, the parties also engage in the discovery process, whereby information such as assets and liabilities are fully disclosed. A divorce case concludes with either an agreement or settlement, or a trial to a Judge or Magistrate. In Ohio, there are no jury divorce trials.
If the parties think they may be able to reach a settlement or agreement, mediation and dissolution can be good options or alternatives to divorce (please see Dayton divorce lawyer Helen Wallace’s recent blog post for more information: Mediation and Dissolution As Alternatives to Divorce).
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