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.
However, a dissolution requires an advanced settlement agreement and for both spouses to attend a final court hearing with the judge. If both spouses 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.)
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.
For more information about the differences between traditional (contested) divorce, uncontested divorce, and dissolution of marriage, visit the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court website.
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.)
The first step in the dissolution process is for the spouses to file a joint petition with the court. With the request, you’ll also include requesting that the court review and approve the agreement that you and your spouse created.
Before filing a petition for dissolution, both spouses must sign a separation agreement that provides for the following:
Both spouses must agree to all the terms of the separation agreement and sign it before submitting it to the court. You must attach the separation agreement to the petition for dissolution. The court requires each spouse to receive a copy of the agreement. However, because the dissolution process is usually amicable, you can usually meet this requirement by having the parties sign a waiver of service that is attached to the petition.
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, thus making the separation agreement an order of the court. At the same time, the court will enter a judgment terminating the marriage.
For more information on the uncontested divorce and dissolution of marriage process in Ohio, speak with an experienced family law attorney near you.