Ohio couples who are on the verge of calling it quits may hesitate for a number of reasons. Being in an unhappy marriage is bad enough, but if ending it threatens the solvency of a family business or the financial security of one or both spouses, this can pose significant questions about what the future holds.
In addition, concerns about the health and wellbeing of minor children come into focus as the possibility of divorce becomes more real. Residents of Dublin and across central Ohio should know that there are several options available to them, depending on their priorities and what they want to protect moving forward. While an amicable split is not always possible, there are ways of avoiding a contentious and long-drawn-out proceeding.
How is dissolution different from divorce?
Getting out of a marriage doesn’t always have to mean going through a divorce proceeding. In Ohio, there are both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. A fault-based divorce required grounds, which include:
- Absence of one spouse for at least one year
- Fraudulent contract
To begin the divorce, the filing party must have been a resident of the state for six months. As property division is a major part of the divorce proceeding, gathering all information for an accurate inventory of marital assets may require financial consultants to conduct valuations to determine the value of real estate, business assets, investment portfolios and pension plans. Either party may demand information about the other’s financial holdings at his stage.
Ohio courts also recognize no-fault grounds if the couple have been separated for one year, or if they file a dissolution petition. In a dissolution, both parties agree to a settlement that addresses custodial and visitation rights, child support and alimony, and the division of marital property. Without added court costs and legal fees from a lengthy proceeding, this can be an attractive alternative to traditional divorce.
Neither party has subpoena power to evaluate the other’s assets, but they may voluntarily trade information. The court does not become involved until the end, when both sides have agreed to the terms of the agreement and are prepared to sign the dissolution papers.
How about legal separation?
For couples who have special financial concerns, such as insurance coverage of one spouse, financial entanglements that could create liability for one or both sides, or in situations where two people can no longer live together but do not want to end the relationship, legal separation is also possible in Ohio.
In a legal separation, the marriage continues, but a court-mandated separation agreement identifies the terms of property division, custody, visitation and support matters, and it keeps the marriage intact. While this agreement may lay the groundwork for a future divorce, it also offers an option to get back together later.