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Ohio Divorce Process
Preparing the Divorce Papers
To file a divorce in Ohio, the petitioner needs a number of forms. Ohio does not have a uniform list of domestic relations forms, so it is important to consult the county of filing for a checklist of forms. At a minimum, the petitioner files the following:
A divorce involving minor children must include a Parenting Proceeding Affidavit, which requires the filing party to provide information about the child's residence for the preceding five years.
A dissolution of marriage requires the cooperation of both parties. If spouses choose to end their marriage via dissolution in Ohio, they must file the majority of the forms up front, before the case has even been assigned a case number by the court clerk. The dissolution must include the following documents:
If there are minor children, the dissolution must also include the following documents and forms in addition to the ones above:
Filing the Paperwork with the Court
The divorce papers are filed with the clerk of court in the county where the action will happen. To pursue a dissolution of marriage, the petitioner must attach a settlement agreement to the petition as an exhibit. If there are minor children, the petitioner must also include the shared parenting plan in the initial filing.
Once the petitioner files relevant forms, the court automatically schedules a final hearing between 30 and 90 days from filing date.
Serving the Documents
The filing spouse must serve the other spouse with copies of all divorce documents. Service can be accomplished through certified mail, registered mail, private process service, or sheriff's service. If the spouse is missing and without a current address, the petitioner can also publish notice of the divorce in a local newspaper.
There is no service requirement in dissolution cases since both spouses go into the case with full knowledge of the process and an agreement regarding all the issues. They also waive their right to service of process of the petition itself.
Disclosing Financial Information
Ohio law requires both sides in divorce and dissolution cases to make a complete disclosure of all income, assets, and debts. Some counties have their own unique pre-trial statement forms that incorporate financial disclosures.
In a majority of counties, financial information is exchanged via an Affidavit of Income, Expenses, and Property, which both sides complete and serve upon the other. If a spouse opts for a dissolution, their financial affidavit must be filed along with the rest of the initial paperwork.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
If both spouses come to an agreement on issues to end their marriage before filing for a no fault divorce, this is considered an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is quicker and creates less stress for the parties and their children. In an Ohio uncontested divorce, both spouses may file a joint petition for dissolution of marriage, and both must sign a separation agreement that deals the property division, child and spousal issues and parental rights must be attached to the petition. This regime takes about 90 days after a party files the petition to dissolve the marriage.
Finalizing the Divorce
Not less than thirty (30) nor more than ninety (90) days after the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage, both spouses must appear at the divorce hearing and testify under oath that they voluntarily entered into the separation agreement, that each party approves the agreement, and that they are asking for the dissolution of their marriage. If the agreement meets with the court’s approval, then the court grants the dissolution of marriage.
In deciding child custody, the court considers the best interests of the children, the wishes and concerns of the parents, the child's wishes and concerns, the child's relationship with their parents, siblings, and extended family, the child's adjustment and development at home, school, and in the community, the mental and physical health of the parents, child, and siblings, the parental history of paying child support, the parental history of abuse or neglect of any child, the denial of other parent's rights to visitation, and any parental relocation plans.
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