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Is Ohio a no-fault divorce state?

Most people are unaware that there are actually two ways to end a marriage in Ohio: divorce and dissolution. The two processes reach the same end result, but the processes and grounds that support each are different.

Ultimately, dissolution is comparable to no-fault divorce, while divorce is actually fault-based in Ohio. So, in that sense, Ohio is both a fault-based and no-fault divorce state.

In order to obtain a divorce, one party must accuse the other party of statutory fault, such as adultery, abandonment, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness or gross neglect of duty, as the Ohio Bar explains. The accusing party must have a witness back up his or her allegations.

Ohio law also permits a divorce to take place when "living separate and apart for one year without interruption and without cohabitation" and incompatibility not denied by either party.

The divorce begins when one party files a divorce complain with the court. After the other party has been notified, the divorce cannot be granted for at least six weeks, which gives the parties time to “cool off” and reconsider ending their marriage.

On the other hand, the parties may choose to end their marriage by dissolution if they both agree that they are not compatible.

A dissolution is not filed with the court until an agreement has been reached on all the issues involved, including division of assets and debts, child custody, child support and spousal support. The agreement can be reached with the help of attorneys or a mediator.

Additionally, it is not possible to seek the court’s involvement in the dissolution process prior to the agreement being reached, so temporary orders, discovery motions and hearings are not possible.

As you can see, the court is largely uninvolved with the dissolution process, but is very much involved with the divorce process.

Because these two processes vary so greatly, it’s very important to seek advice from a family law attorney as to which process would be best for your unique situation. 

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