Divorce or Dissolution


A divorce or dissolution is the legal termination of a marriage.  In Ohio, marriages must be terminated through a petition or complaint filed with the courts.  A complaint for divorce is required if both parties cannot agree to the terms ending the marriage and the divorce will become contested.  An uncontested divorce (also called an agreed divorce) or dissolution can be filed if both parties are in agreement to end the marriage and an amicable division of property, child support, child custody and alimony or spousal support can be reached.

Contested Divorce

One party must file a complaint for divorce, if they are unable to agree as to the division of property and debt, allocation of parental rights, child support, and spousal support, or any other single issue which cannot be agreed upon.  A divorce is an adversarial proceeding in court by which one party sues another seeking the termination of the marriage.  A divorce can be on numerous grounds including gross neglect of duty, extreme cruelty, infidelity, habitual drunkenness, etc.  The most common ground for seeking a divorce arises from incompatibility between the two parties.  A contested divorce hearing consists of testimony and presentation of evidence by both parties and their witnesses.  Should parties be in agreement as to certain aspects of the divorce, they can stipulate or agree to these matters.  The court will make its decision regarding the contested matters based upon the evidence presented.

Dissolution of Marriage

divorce_dissolution_packingA divorce differs from dissolution since dissolution of a marriage requires both parties (the petitioners) to reach an agreement as to the terms ending the marriage.  This agreement must occur prior to filing the dissolution paperwork with the courts and before a hearing.  In order to qualify for dissolution of marriage, the parties must have lived separate and apart for at least thirty (30) days prior to the final hearing and one of the parties must be a resident of the State of Ohio for at least six (6) months.

The main document submitted to the court in dissolution of marriage is the separation agreement.  The separation agreement is an enforceable contract which outlines how the marital property and marital debt shall be divided between the petitioners.  This agreement will also address custody, child support, health insurance, and spousal support.  The separation agreement must be reviewed by both parties and will require the notarized signatures of both petitioners.  Dissolution paperwork also requires the filing of a petition for dissolution, a waiver of service, an acknowledgment of legal representation, a decree of dissolution, affidavits regarding assets and liabilities, and a filing fee of $175.00 for all cases filed in Franklin County.

If there are minor children of the marriage, several additional documents are required.  Both parties must review and sign affidavits regarding child custody and health insurance.  A child support computation worksheet must be filed detailing the amount of child support to be paid each month.  If shared parenting is desired, a shared parenting plan, wherein both parties are custodial parents, can be prepared which will describe the parenting arrangement of the parties.  In addition, the petitioners must attend a parenting seminar before the hearing.

A dissolution of a marriage requires both parties’ appearance in a court hearing.  This hearing is set by the court’s schedule and is typically 30-45 days from the date the petition for dissolution is filed with the court.  The parties can elect to use a private judge, who will come to our office.  This is more convenient and more private than a public courtroom.

Uncontested or Agreed Divorce

An uncontested divorce is very similar to the dissolution of marriage.  In an uncontested divorce, one party sues another for a divorce.  In this instance, however, the other non-moving party has reviewed and signed an agreed judgment entry agreeing to the terms of the divorce, including the division of property, allocation of parental rights, child support, and spousal support.  This method for the termination of a marriage is often used when one party does not want to or is unable to appear in court.  An uncontested divorce only requires the moving party’s appearance in court.  The moving party must also have a witness present at hearing that can corroborate the testimony of the party seeking the divorce.  A private judge can again be used for the final hearing of an uncontested divorce.

If you are seeking a divorce lawyer in Columbus or the surrounding areas, call Bergman & Yiangou for a free consultation – 614-279-8276