Understanding Your Rights to File for Divorce in Ohio
Three Important “Legal” Points That You Must Understand To Get Your Ohio Divorce Case Off On The Right Foot
In Ohio, the court that handles divorce cases (as well as dissolution and legal separation cases) is the Common Pleas court in your county. This is referred to by law as the court that has “jurisdiction” over your case. Don’t worry about the word “jurisdiction” too much, but you need to know that jurisdiction calls for three important requirements to be met before you can even get started with your case:
- That you must have been a resident of the state of Ohio for at least six months before filing a lawsuit for divorce (or petition the court for dissolution).
- For example, if you have only lived in Ohio for three months, you’re not legally allowed to file for divorce. This might be the best time for a legal separation if you really need to get started immediately, because there is no six-month residency requirement for legal separation.
- That the county in which you want to file the divorce lawsuit is the right one (Ohio law has lots of rules about this). The legal term for this is “venue.” For example, if you live in Delaware County and think that it would be better to file in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland area) because your parents live there, Ohio law generally will not allow that, and you will be required to file your divorce case in Delaware County Ohio. Most often, divorce cases are filed in the county in which the spouses live, but there may be strategic reasons why another county might be better.
- That you have grounds (legal reasons) to bring the divorce case. Ohio law requires one of the following reasons: married before and not divorced when got married the second time; willful absence for a year; adultery, extreme cruelty, gross neglect of duty; habitual drunkenness; imprisonment; living separate and apart for one year; and incompatibility-we just don’t get along. If one spouse wants the divorce, he or she will get it. Grounds must be proven by the person making the allegation. Grounds are not a requirement for dissolution.
Be aware of what you sign
Divorce involves complex issues of law because you and your spouse will have to make permanent and binding decisions pertaining to your assets, property, and support. Once these decisions are made, they’re set and there is no chance un-sign a contract at a later date. Read the contract carefully.
Before signing your name to any piece of paper, you must understand the entire paper. You also need to know what you’re obligated to do after you sign. Don’t let an issue unclear to you go unanswered, ASK QUESTIONS. Make sure you seek your own legal counsel because your spouse’s attorney is only obligated to represent your spouse, not you.
Be extra careful and read every document involved in the case before you sign anything. Have a clear understanding of the written agreement and make sure you know what to do upon signing any contract or agreement. Again, ask all the questions you have because one the agreement is signed, there is no turning back.
Dividing the belongings: accept the fact that you’re not going to get everything
You’re not going to get everything in your divorce settlement, so it is important to have a realistic outlook when you decide what to ask for in your divorce. It is wise to accept the fact that there will be something the other spouse gets that you feel you deserve, because both parties tend to want the valuable items.
Even if your spouse is the one at fault, the court is not going to award everything to you. Most things are pretty easy to divide, since a wife probably won’t want her husband's hunting and fishing equipment and a husband probably won’t want his wife's sewing machine and crafts.
Some items, like real estate property, can become complicated to divide. Some factors will be weighed, such as when a property was purchased (before or after the marriage), and if something was built or significantly changed on the property after the marriage occurred.
Begin by thinking about a fair division of the assets. Go in with a level head and settlements will go much more smoothly.
What should I do if my spouse just ups and leaves?
"My spouse of x amount of years just recently left my kids and me. I have a feeling he or she is with someone else. We have a beautiful home, property,and several businesses. What am I entitled to?"
The best thing to do is to schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney. Your attorney will discuss all of your options and everything you’re entitled to.
What is the easiest way to get a divorce started in Ohio?
It is a good idea to speak with an divorce attorney so you get some idea of the divorce process and expenses involved. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to also work with a mediator during this time.