A dissolution of marriage in Ohio is a non-adversarial, "no-fault," proceeding to legally end a marriage. The spouses file a joint petition with the court, requesting that the court review and approve the agreement that they have entered into. That agreement resolves the relevant issues such as division of property, allocation of marital debt, and allocation of parental rights and responsibilities (custody and support).
In order to use the dissolution procedures, the spouses have to reach agreement on all of these issues. The dissolution procedure provides the same legal effect as a divorce in that the marital relationship is terminated. It avoids conflict and confrontation, is usually much quicker, is usually significantly less expensive, and the parties can be relatively sure of the ultimate outcome.
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. The petition must be filed in a court of proper venue, usually the county where one or the other party lives.
Before filing a petition for dissolution, both spouses must sign a separation agreement that provides for the division of all real and personal property; determines whether one spouse will pay spousal support to the other and if so, how much and for how long; makes provisions for the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, child support, and visitation rights, and resolves any other issues that relate to the marriage. The separation agreement must be voluntarily entered into by both spouses after full financial disclosure.
The separation agreement is attached to the petition for dissolution. The petition must be signed by both parties and filed with the proper court. Service of process must be made on both parties but is usually accomplished by having the parties sign a waiver of service that is attached to the petition.
After the petition is filed, a hearing date is set by the court. The hearing date must be not less than 30 days or more than 90 days after the filing of the petition. At the time of the hearing both spouses must be present in court to present testimony assuring the judge that they entered into the separation voluntarily; that they are satisfied with the terms of the agreement; that the agreement is fair; and, that the parties still want to terminate the marriage by way of dissolution. If the judge approves, a judgment of dissolution will be entered that incorporates the terms of the separation agreement, thus making the separation agreement an order of the court. At that point the court will enter a judgment terminating the marriage.