Divorce, Dissolution & Separation

Divorce Lawyer: Bellevue, Fremont, and more

Ohio law provides three ways for a husband and wife to end or alter their marriage: legal separation, dissolution, or divorce.  To obtain a dissolution or divorce, you must be an Ohio resident for at least six months before filing.  There is no residency requirement for persons seeking a legal separation.

What is a legal separation?

A legal separation is a legal action which does not end a marriage, but allows the court to issue orders about division of property, spousal support, and if there are minor children, child support and parenting time.  The husband and wife remain married, but live separately.  When the court grants a legal separation, the husband and wife must follow the court’s specific orders.

What is a dissolution?

Dissolution is a legal action which is possible when the husband and wife mutually agree to terminate their marriage.  Neither party has to prove grounds to end the marriage.  Dissolution is started only after the husband and wife have reached an agreement on division of property, spousal support and issues regarding minor children, if applicable.  After the Petition for Dissolution, Separation Agreement and accompanying forms are filed with the court, a hearing will be held at least 30 days and no more than 90 days following the filing of the aforementioned documents.  And both husband and wife must be present. At the hearing, the court will review the separation agreement and accompanying paperwork, ask questions about assets and liabilities, and make sure the husband and wife understand and are satisfied with the settlement.  If the court is satisfied that the agreement is fair, the court will grant the dissolution and order the separation agreement into effect.

What is a divorce?

A divorce is a civil lawsuit to end a marriage when the husband and wife cannot resolve their problems and ask the court to make the final decision and issue orders about property division, spousal support and any issues regarding minor children.

A divorce starts when one spouse (the plaintiff) files a complaint with the court.  The plaintiff must have a reason why the divorce is being filed and eventually prove the reason for the divorce.  Discuss with your attorney why you believe your spouse’s behavior justifies filing for divorce.

The court will serve the defendant by certified mail or hand delivery with a copy of the complaint and a summons to appear in court.  If the defendant’s address is not known, a notice will be printed in the newspaper.

After the defendant has been served with the complaint, the defendant must file an answer with the court within 28 days.  The defendant can file a counterclaim requesting a divorce and the plaintiff files a reply to answer the counterclaim.

During the course of the divorce proceedings, many divorces are settled by the husband and wife reaching an agreement.  When this occurs, a separation agreement is prepared, signed by the husband and wife, and filed with the court.  If the husband and wife are unable to resolve one or more of their disputed issues, those issues are presented to the court.  The court will review the evidence presented and make a decision based on Ohio law.

Child Custody 

What is visitation?

When a parent is awarded custody of a child, the other parent is usually entitled to visitation rights. Under Ohio law, the usual legal term for visitation is “parenting time.”

How is visitation established?

Each county in Ohio has a “standard parenting time schedule,” which is used as a starting point by courts in setting parenting time schedules for the cases in those jurisdictions.  Visitation can only be determined by the courts.

The standard parenting time schedules vary somewhat from county to county.

Are there alternatives to “standard parenting time schedule?”

A court may order a parenting time schedule with terms and conditions that vary from the standard schedule.

In cases involving child abuse or domestic violence, the court may restrict the abusive parent’s visitation rights.

For example, the court may order supervised visitation, designating specific pick-up and drop-off points, prohibiting the parent’s consumption of alcohol or legal drugs during visitation periods, requiring the abusive parent to attend parenting classes or counseling, or prohibiting the parent from taking the children out of state.

What if a parent violates their visitation rights?

A custodial parent’s interference with the visitation rights or parenting time of the other parent may trigger a court contempt action against that parent. Such interference is also a “best interest of the child” factor that the court must consider in determining which parent should be awarded custody in any future child custody or custody modification proceedings.

What does emancipation mean?

Emancipation means the act or process of releasing a person from the parental control, care and custody of his or her parent(s).

In general, emancipation occurs automatically when a person reaches age 18, the age of majority for most purposes, or upon graduation from high school if a child turns 18 during his or her last year of high school.

However, a person may be emancipated before he or she attains the age of 18 if the child gets married or joins the military service.

Ohio law does not provide a way for someone under the age of 18 to petition a court to “become emancipated.” Even if a court relieves parents of financial responsibility for a minor child, the child is not emancipated and the parents still may be held responsible for the child’s actions.

What is a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)?

A Guardian Ad Litem is appointed by the court for the specific purpose of protecting the interests of a minor during the course of legal proceedings.

I am a grandparent — what rights do I have to visitation of my grandchild?

You must file a Motion to Establish Visitation through the court.

If you have any further questions about how we can help you with your dissolution, divorce or custody needs, please contact usJeremiah Ray practices in the field of domestic relations and family law.