Ohio Divorce Basics

Start here for the basics about the Ohio divorce process.

Grounds for Divorce

Ohio allows for no-fault divorce, requiring only that the filing spouse allege irreconcilable differences between the parties. A spouse filing for divorce in Ohio may also file for a fault divorce, citing any of the following grounds: bigamy, willful absence of the other party for more than one year, adultery, extreme cruelty, fraudulent contract, living separate and apart for more than one year, or incompatibility, among others.

The court may order, either on its own or at the request of one of the spouses, that the parties participate in reconciliation counseling for a period of up to three months or family counseling, if children are involved, for the entire divorce proceeding. If the court orders counseling, it will not finalize the divorce, annulment, or legal separation until the results have been reported to the court.

Residency Requirement

The spouse filing for divorce (otherwise known as the plaintiff) must be a resident of Ohio for at least six months before the filing.

Property Division

Ohio is an equitable distribution state, so the court will divide marital property equitably between the two spouses. Separate property is not subject to division--this includes property that each spouse had before the marriage, inheritances or gifts given only to one spouse, and separate property as agreed to in a prenuptial agreement.

(For details on how property (and debt) is divided, see Ohio Divorce: Dividing Property).


The court may grant either spouse an award of alimony, also called spousal support, based on factors that include the parties' respective incomes and earning abilities, the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living established during the marriage. The court may also determine that one spouse’s earning capacity has been diminished or lost because of marital responsibilities, and award alimony accordingly. Support may be awarded in lump sum or as monthly payments.

(See Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Ohio for more information.)

Child Support

All parents are required to support their children regardless of the status of the marital relationship. The parents will also be required to provide healthcare for the child. Child support in Ohio is calculated based on the gross income of the parents and the number of children that the parents support. A judge might make adjustments to the income considered if the parent is responsible for union dues, support for other children, or spousal support obligations. If the parents’ total annual income is less than $6,600 or more than $150,000, it is outside of the guidelines and the court must determine a support amount on its own. The court would use the child support schedule as a guideline and will always take into consideration the best interests of the child when making an order for support.

All child support payments are paid to the Department of Job and Family Services, which facilitates payments to the other parent. Child support payment information can be found at the website for Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services, here.

(For more information on child support, please see Ohio Child Support FAQ).

Child Custody

A judge looks at numerous factors when making child custody orders, including the child's wishes, the parents' wishes, the child’s relationship with both of the parents and the family members of each parent, and whether either of the parents have been convicted of a crime involving child abuse or neglect. The court may order that the child spend equal time with each parent, or establish one parent as the primary residential parent while granting the other parent visitation rights.

A residential parent who wishes to relocate with the child must notify the court in writing; the court will then notify the other non-residential parent of the intent to relocate. If the non-residential parent does not agree to the move or if the judge feels that the move would not be in the best interest of the child, there may be a hearing to determine whether the custody arrangement should be modified.

(Get detailed information about how child custody is determined in, Child Custody in Ohio: The Best Interests of the Child).

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