A conventional divorce is often highly emotional, expensive, and time-consuming. Uncontested divorce and dissolution of marriage are similar in that both are non-adversarial, and the court doesn't consider either spouse's "fault" in the breakdown of the marriage.
The dissolution procedure provides the same legal effect as a divorce in that the court terminates the marital relationship. It avoids conflict and confrontation, is usually much quicker and significantly less expensive than a traditional divorce, and the parties can be relatively sure of the outcome. Spouses can often use a DIY solution like an online divorce service. They do, though, also have the option of getting professional help.
Before you can file for a dissolution or traditional divorce, you must meet the state's residency requirement. In Ohio, at least one of the parties must have been a resident of the State of Ohio for at least 6 months immediately prior to the filing of the petition. To ensure you file in the correct county, the law also requires that you submit your petition to the court in the county where at least one spouse has lived for the past 90 days. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3105.03.)
To get a dissolution in Ohio, both spouses must sign a settlement agreement (more below) and attend a final court hearing with the judge. If you or your spouse can't participate in the final hearing, you'll need to file for an uncontested divorce. If you begin by filing a complaint for divorce, but believe that the dissolution process better suits you, you can request the court to convert your case by filing a motion. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3105.08.)
Before filing the paperwork for dissolution, both spouses must sign a separation agreement that provides for the following:
Complete the divorce forms. After you have completed a separation agreement, you can prepare the dissolution paperwork. The paperwork includes the Petition for Dissolution, as well as other documents concerning your income, property, and parenting plan (if you have minor children with your spouse). Check with your county clerk's office and the Ohio Judicial System for standard forms and instructions. Alternatively, you can use an online DIY service like DivorceNet's, which completes the forms for you.
Sign and notarize paperwork. Once your forms are complete, bring the paperwork to a notary. You and your spouse must sign the paperwork in front of the notary.
File paperwork and pay filing fees. You will file your separation agreement and paperwork with the Clerk of Court in the county where you or your spouse have lived for more than 90 days. Check with the clerk to determine how many copies you should bring. You will be responsible for a filing fee, but if you cannot afford it, you can request a Poverty Affidavit, which waives the initial fees.
After you file the petition, the court will set a hearing date. The law requires the court to schedule the hearing date not less than 30 days or more than 90 days after the spouses file the petition. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3105.64 (A).)
At the time of the hearing, both spouses must be present in court to present testimony. The court wants both spouses to assure the judge that they entered into the separation voluntarily, are satisfied with the terms of the agreement, agree that the agreement is fair and, that the parties still want to terminate the marriage by way of dissolution.
If the judge approves, the court will enter a judgment of dissolution that incorporates the terms of the separation agreement, which makes the separation agreement an order of the court. At the same time, the court will enter a judgment terminating the marriage.