How Do I File for Divorce in Ohio

Get an overview of the divorce filing process in Ohio.

If you're facing an Ohio divorce, you probably have a lot of questions. While the divorce process might seem overwhelming, familiarizing yourself with the different types of divorce will help you navigate the legal system with more confidence. This article provides a general guide to divorce in Ohio.

Residency Requirements and Reasons for Divorce

To file for divorce in Ohio, at least one party must have lived in the state for six months prior to filing. Unlike most states, Ohio also requires that one spouse reside in the filing county for at least 90 days.

Ohio allows both fault-based and no-fault divorce. The majority of couples choose to pursue no-fault divorce because it doesn't require you to get into all the reasons behind the breakdown of the marriage. Rather than assigning blame or delving into embarrassing facts, you simply choose one of two no-fault grounds, which include:

  • living apart for at least one year, and
  • incompatibility.

Although rarely used, Ohio also provides an assortment of fault-based grounds, which include:

  • adultery
  • gross neglect of duty (failing to financially support the other person)
  • bigamy
  • willful absence for at least one year
  • extreme cruelty
  • fraudulent contract
  • habitual drunkenness, and
  • imprisonment of the other spouse.

There is a second no-fault option available for Ohio couples who agree on all the issues surrounding their property and children, if they have any. Known as a "dissolution of marriage," this type of action allows you to speed up the divorce process and typically ends up saving both sides considerable money. Because dissolution is purely a no-fault procedure, no grounds are required. You or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months, but you can file your case in any county.

Preparing Your Forms

To file a divorce in Ohio, you will need a number of forms. Ohio does not have a uniform list of domestic relations forms, so it is important to consult your specific county for a checklist of forms. At a minimum, you must file the following:

  • Case Designation Sheet
  • Complaint for Divorce, and
  • Instructions for Service.

Additionally, any Ohio case 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 you choose to end your marriage via dissolution in Ohio, you must file the majority of your forms up front, before the case has even been assigned a case number by the court clerk. Your dissolution must include the following documents:

  • Case Designation Sheet
  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (including Waiver of Service of Process)
  • Financial Disclosure Statement (sometimes called an Affidavit of Income, Expenses, and Property), and
  • Settlement agreement (also known as a "separation agreement").

If you have minor children, your dissolution must also include the following documents and forms in addition to the ones above:

  • Shared Parenting Plan (or Sole Custody Agreement)
  • Child Support Worksheet
  • Parenting Proceeding Affidavit
  • IV-D Application (a form to enroll in child support services), and
  • Health Insurance Affidavit.

Filing Your Forms

After you have gathered all the required forms, you must file them with the clerk of court in the county where you wish to proceed. To pursue a dissolution of marriage, you must attach your settlement agreement to your petition as an exhibit. If you have minor children, you must also include your shared parenting plan in your initial filing.

Serving Your Forms

Ohio law requires that the filing spouse "serve" the other side with copies of all divorce documents. You can accomplish service through certified mail, registered mail, private process service, or sheriff's service. If you don't know your spouse's current whereabouts, you can also publish notice of the divorce in your local newspaper.

There is no service requirement in dissolution cases, as 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. Once you have filed your petition and all relevant forms, the court will automatically schedule a final hearing between 30 and 90 days from the date of filing.

Financial Disclosures

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 must fill out and serve upon the other. If you opt for a dissolution, your financial affidavit must be filed along with the rest of your initial paperwork.

Resources

See our section on Ohio Divorce and Family Laws to find more information on the divorce process, as well as related legal issues like child custody, property division, alimony and more.

Ohio Legal Services Self-Help Forms

Cuyahoga County Divorce Forms

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