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Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce in Ohio

Answers from experienced Lebanon family law attorneys

Ernst & Associates in Lebanon delivers effective family law counsel for clients in Warren County and throughout southwestern Ohio. Our experienced attorneys guide spouses who are seeking to protect their rights as they end their marriage. We understand how overwhelming divorce can be, especially when you are not certain of what the process entails. By answering some common questions regarding Ohio divorce law, we hope to help you make smart choices for you and your children as you make the difficult decision to end your marriage.

Contact a knowledgeable Ohio family law attorney for advice on ending a marriage

Ernst & Associates represents southwestern Ohio clients in divorces and other types of family litigation. Please call 513-268-0738 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation at our Lebanon office.


How do I start the divorce process?

In Ohio, there are two ways to terminate a legal marriage. In divorce proceedings, a party files by alleging one of several grounds. These include fault-based allegations such as adultery or extreme cruelty, and no-fault claims, including incompatibility. The other option is dissolution, where the parties have agreed to a resolution and apply to the court to end the marriage legally. In either case, the filing party must have at least six months of residency in the state. Our firm offers a free consultation so that you can decide how best to proceed.

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How much will it cost to end my marriage?

Each case is unique, and without a detailed understanding of your specific situation, it is impossible to anticipate how the divorce will proceed. However, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss key issues such as whether the breakup is amicable and if minor children are involved. After that, we can project potential costs. In every case, we will pursue resolution methods that best suit you needs and reduce your expense.

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What is dissolution under Ohio law? How does it differ from divorce?

When spouses have reached agreement on key issues such as child custody, spousal support and property division, they can jointly file for dissolution of their marriage under Ohio law. This no-fault proceeding usually saves substantial time and money because there are no disputes or discovery. Within 30 to 90 days of filing their petition, spouses attend a brief hearing to confirm that they still wish to end their marriage under the terms listed in their separation agreement.

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What is legal separation?

When spouses seek to live apart without terminating their marriage, legal separation is an option. In a separation order, terms are set concerning the same types of issues that are adjudicated in a divorce, such as child custody and property division. Couples can agree on these matters and submit their agreement for court approval, or the matters can be litigated if consensus is not reached. If they wish to end the marriage later on, they can convert the terms of their separation order into a divorce.

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How does the court decide matters regarding children?

As judges in other states do, Ohio judges make child custody decisions based on what they believe to be in the best interests of the child. Many factors can come into play, including the child’s safety, daily routine and educational opportunities. Courts strive to render decisions that allow both parents to maintain frequent, meaningful contact with their sons and daughters.

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What happens to our property, assets and debts after the marriage ends?

If divorcing partners cannot work out an arrangement on property division and no marital agreement is in place, courts allocate assets and debts according to the principle of equitable distribution. In other words, a court decides what is fair. Though this often means that the value of marital property will be split evenly among spouses, a judge might award one spouse more if their partner committed some sort of financial misconduct.

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Will I pay or receive spousal support?

Sometimes referred to as “alimony,” spousal support may be awarded by Ohio courts while a divorce is pending and after the marriage has been terminated. Post-divorce payments can be ordered as a lump sum or in installments so that that a former spouse can support themselves financially. State law lists many factors that judges may consider when deciding if and how spousal support should be granted. These include the duration of the marriage along with the age, health and earning capacity of each partner.

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